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Erica Futterman – Managing Editor, BuzzFeed

Today’s world is fast-paced and globalized. Things change quickly, and don’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. In the modern business world, it’s important to stand out to avoid falling behind. Innovation is the best way to do just that.

BuzzFeed arrived on the scene in 2006, steadily climbing the ranks of viral news sites. Since inception, it has raised millions of dollars in capital, and poached top editors from around the Web. What started more as a goofy, cat picture laden aggregation forum, BuzzFeed has started creating more original content while maintaining its enviable position as a source of sly, instant entertainment.

Erica Futterman joined BuzzFeed this month as the new managing editor and discussed what has been the key to striking success, where she thinks the industry is headed, and why BuzzFeed represents a new way for people to consume media.

“I think we are speaking to what is actually happening right now, noticing that there is this increase in mobile presence that is going on,” Futterman said. “People are engaging with news in an incredibly social way – Facebook, Twitter and beyond.”

To stay current, staffers follow a simple concept – take things that people want to talk about and make them want to talk about them even more. This idea drives BuzzFeed’s social influence, and gives the site the ability to maintain the interest of new and old readers alike.

This has also separated BuzzFeed from other Web-only properties, pushing it into the ring with the big, firmly established news media magnates. “Being in an industry that’s going through this period of change, seeing a company experimenting with new things and succeeding with them, it’s pretty fantastic,” she said.

Futterman’s duties include coordinating editors from Hawaii to London and many places in between, while working to “preserve the BuzzFeed aesthetic.”

“My job as managing editor is to work within this very fluid newsroom and create a process that makes sense. There’s no right way and there’s no wrong way. Its making a framework that will help make our coverage more robust and increase our productivity.”

With a startup culture, BuzzFeed has a modern newsroom space where employees are encouraged to talk about how they can push themselves, collaborate and innovate.

In addition to entertainment, the site covers a wide range of topics – including breaking news and politics – which has helped it in gaining a respectable following.

“The breaking news element, it ties together a bunch of different elements,” Futterman noted. “You have the core of the BuzzFeed brand, which is the viral sharing element of these lists. These features we create that are sort of taking things that people will be talking about and making you want to talk about them even more. We’ve been able to do that with things like breaking news, and in the last year with our political reporting. We’re taking more traditional beats and putting these social things on top of them.”

As BuzzFeed continues to create more original content and more ways for people to engage with the site, it becomes apparent that larger news media outlets will push to mimic its quick success.

“Preserving what’s made your brand a legacy brand, but also adapting to what people are doing right now, is [what’s] going to be the biggest struggle. Your readers are now actually contributors. Be aware of that, engage them.”

Pitching Tips

BuzzFeed only creates original material, and are therefore not interested in information that has appeared elsewhere.

“We won’t post a press release,” Futterman said.

She asked that PR professionals consider the type of content that BuzzFeed typically runs before submitting anything.

Futterman prefers being pitched via email and is available on Twitter at @futt.

About Laura Botham

Laura Botham writes features covering the movers and shakers in the media industry, daily updates, and Top 10 lists. She is a media researcher at Cision, specializing in Internet media. She is a freelance artist, enjoys traveling, the mountains, and can always make time for a cute animal video.

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