It was a Thursday in late August and the
Internet was whipping itself into a frenzy. The cable channel FXX was
about to kick off its Every Simpsons Ever marathon, showing all 522 Simpsons episodes back-to-back-to-back.
And in its daily meeting that morning, Time’s audience engagement
team was figuring out how to best take advantage of the moment and
convert interest in the Simpsons into visits to Time’s website.
Time, together with sister site Money, published at least five different pieces on the Simpsons marathon on that day alone.
Time’s editors meet every morning at 9:45 to discuss stories for the
upcoming day. After that meeting, Schweitzer, Ross, and Borchers gather
to discuss the 15 or so stories they plan on promoting heavily and how
they’ll use what Time calls its “external levers of distribution” —
which range from its daily email newsletter and cross-promotions on
other Time Inc. websites to working with the Time Inc. PR department
and, of course, social media — to ensure that their stories are widely
read and shared.
Of the three, Schweitzer is the longest tenured Time employee, having joined the company all
the way back in August 2013, and their roles are emblematic of Time’s
revamped digital strategy. Time had about 50 million unique visitors in
both August and September, more than doubling the roughly 20 million it
attracted the year before.
Their efforts go beyond social as well. The Ebola story
discussed that morning, covering how some people are surviving the
virus, was the top story in Time’s daily email the next morning. Called
The Brief after the central feature of Time’s homepage, the email lists
12 things readers need to know each day, and it has an average open rate
of around 40 percent.