THE DEVELOPMENT AND MANAGEMENT OF
Scrip Daily News Alert
Connaught FactsLine has, through several distinct but related phases of development, enabled Informa Healthcare’s Scrip Daily News Alert to enhance its delivery portfolio.
In response to customer demands for faster delivery of news, Connaught was originally engaged to develop a daily fax bulletin service, Scrip Daily News Alert, to be sold alongside the print Scrip subscription. Since then, the ongoing production and delivery of the Alert in electronic format has been handled by Connaught as a fully managed service. The bulletin contains an abstract of the day’s news and, for an additional fee per story, subscribers to the service can receive the full text of the story, instantly by email or fax. Emails are tracked with a reporting interface that shows whether the information has been forwarded and, if so, where to. This business intelligence enables the publisher to identify potential copyright abuse, and respond accordingly.
Since 1972 Scrip has delivered essential news and analysis of developments in the global pharmaceutical and biotechnology markets through products like the twice-weekly Scrip newsletter. Previously part of PJB Publications, Scrip is now part of the Informa Healthcare division of Informa plc.
Scrip Daily News Alert
In response to customer demand for more frequently provided information, in 1995 it was decided to introduce Scrip Daily News Alert to complement the existing newsletter. Connaught developed and managed the fax delivery system that met this requirement. It was agreed that a daily Alert consisting of 20-30 news headlines each with a supporting paragraph of text would be produced and faxed to subscribers to this new service. Each story would have a reference number and be supplemented by a full text article that could be purchased at modest extra cost by subscribers, who would then be invoiced monthly in arrears for any full text articles purchased.
FAX PRODUCTION AND DELIVERY
Connaught’s production and delivery solution simply required Scrip to send the daily Alert as well as the 20-30 full text stories in Word format for Connaught to convert into Tagged Image File Format (TIFF) files. Scrip also provided Connaught with an updated subscriber list whenever this changed. Connaught’s automated data management process ensured that the Alert was broadcast within minutes of the data being received. Subscribers could then order the full text articles using fax on demand, a mechanism that enables callers to dial into an automated answering system, enter their user ID and PIN, and then order the full text articles. These articles were then faxed to their registered number within seconds. (Subscribers were also given the option of having the articles delivered to another fax number).
Connaught provided daily and monthly reports on these purchases and Scrip simply invoiced their subscribers according to the information in these reports.
From a standing start, the subscriber base for Scrip Daily NewsAlert quickly grew. In addition to meeting customer demand for daily information, the new service generated new subscriptions to complement the revenues from the existing Scrip print newsletter.
EMAIL PRODUCTION AND DELIVERY
As email emerged as a popular and effective delivery medium, so email delivery and email-on-demand were introduced by Connaught into the service. The only additional work requirement for Scrip was to produce the Alert itself in PDF format with all other procedures remaining the same for Scrip staff. The subscriber database reflected individual delivery preferences and, to provide for these, Connaught produced text, TIFF and PDF formats for the full-text articles.
The email on demand service worked on a similar principle to the fax on demand – subscribers simply replied to the email alert by inserting an X in the box next to the news headlines of particular interest. Options to have the full article text delivered as PDF, Word, or text were also included. Access control security ensured that only current subscribers were able to order the articles and have them delivered to registered email addresses.
ONLINE ORDERING AND ADVERTISING
As HTML email gained market acceptance, Connaught introduced an HTML alert which facilitated online ordering. This also enabled the introduction of banner advertising, controlled by Scrip in real time so that any advertising changes could be automatically reflected in the outgoing alerts.
In 2001 an Archive service was also introduced by Connaught to provide controlled access to the many years of Scrip Daily News Alert data that had been previously created and distributed. This enabled subscribers to undertake free text searches on 35,000 articles going back a rolling 5 years. Summaries of the search are shown, and subscribers can then order the full text to be delivered by email to their registered address. From an information management perspective, the archive data is simply an extension of the daily articles, so Scrip did not have to undertake any additional work to ensure this was regularly updated.
The monthly article purchase invoicing cycle was taking close to a fortnight for ScripDaily News Alert to complete as the collation of data and processing of rules was largely manual. It also involved entering data into accounting systems and then matching up invoices with reports - some of which could run across several months if a subscriber’s usage was intermittent. To resolve this, Connaught proposed a streamlined version which would enable data to be produced 'accounts package ready’. This was implemented and the billing cycle was reduced to minutes with complete integration achieved and no further requirement for any paper based records to be maintained. Scrip staff can now invoice service users at any time by accessing a secure web based module.
STREAMLINED ALERT PRODUCTION
The latest addition to the system has been the streamlining of Alerts production. Until very recently, the articles were collated by Scrip staff, who also edited and formatted them to produce the appropriate layout, allocated the individual article reference numbers, and decided on the order of the articles. It was estimated that this process took on average three hours every day, and when key staff were away it was a very difficult process for other colleagues to reproduce. At the same time, the final versions of the articles were being produced in an in-house content management system which had all the controls in place and delivered a plain text output daily at around 3pm.
It was decided to use this daily plain text output as the basis for the Alerts. The data is now automatically transferred to Connaught in plain text at 3pm every day, and Connaught then processes the data according to a number of pre-defined rules. Scrip staff are automatically advised that the Alert is ready for reviewing online within minutes of the data arriving and can then do a quick final check and edit stories, change the order or delete items – all online. A simple preview facility shows what the outgoing Alert will look like in both in HTML and plain text versions, and when the Scrip reviewer is happy the Alert is as it should be, they can release the alert through the online mechanism. This is then automatically distributed by Connaught as required and the full text articles are produced in Word, PDF and HTML formats as well as the plain text. The archive is automatically updated and subscribers can order any articles they may be interested in immediately.
SUMMARY OF KEY BENEFITS
Connaught ’s development and data management expertise has enabled Scrip to provide timely industry news Alerts to subscribers that is supported by controlled access to a comprehensive archive and on demand, flexible format, full text delivery. The Scrip business and its customers both benefit from the streamlined content production, effective external communications, integrated invoicing and insightful usage reporting that this managed service now offers.
Connaught FactsLine Ltd: Web: www.connaught.co.uk; Email: email@example.com; Tel: + 44 (0)20 8755 6979