Extending the Reach of a Flagship
Baseline is a Los Angeles based company providing film and television information to every major studio, broadcast network, representation firm and media outlet in North America. The Studio System is Baseline’s flagship product and generates the highest quality data available by adhering to strict editorial guidelines in place since 1981.
Baseline sought to develop “Studio System News”, a web application that would provide entertainment trade news aggregation, analysis and insider viewpoints. Among its technological goals:
- Easy to use content management system (“CMS”)
- Design that optimized for tablet and mobile browsing
- Compatibility with newsletter distribution based on subscribers’ interests
Achieving those goals would require significant web development since Baseline Research had several nonintegrated databases and systems in place. Its database where writers submitted articles was separate from its database housing images (e.g., an article about a new George Clooney movie put into the one database wasn’t meaningfully connected to the database containing images of him). Only a manual linking of article and image were possible.
SalesForce was Baseline’s customer relationship management system, while MailChimp handled newsletter creation and distribution. SalesForce would capture information on the “interests” of Studio System News users (e.g., studio capacity, union affiliation, motion picture enthusiast, etc.), while MailChimp had information for the newsletter opt-in list and how they wanted to consume information (e.g., “Daily Digest”or “Weekly Roundup”, etc.). On top of that, the systems weren’t integrated to allow for a simple method of sending subscribers newsletters curated to their interests.
Customization & Integration
WordPress was the “go to” CMS solution for a number of reasons. Not only is WordPress easy-to-use and open sourced (meaning no licensing fees involved), but its multitude of available plugins made it customizable for Baseline’s needs. Probably the most important customization was an integration of its databases. Application Programming Interfaces were developed to populate the CMS with both articles and images. Images would automatically be linked to an article and thereby avoid manually having to go into WordPress to choose an image for an article (e.g., George Clooney image automatically attached to article about him).
A preexisting responsive theme was customized and configured to ensure the best user experience with Studio System News regardless of the device used. Theme design and customization was implemented for maximum advertising impact as well. As a result, a vast community of industry insiders and entertainment news enthusiasts would view information and ads on a device-agnostic, responsive web application.
To achieve Baseline’s email newsletter goals, the MailChimp specific WordPress plugin “WordChimp” was used. It was customized to handle distribution of newsletters to subscribers based on interests, union association and other affiliations. Custom templates for newsletter distribution were implemented as well.
Smooth Sailing Ahead
The Studio System News site resulting from the collaboration of Baseline and EnderTech benefits from custom integrations that make content management a cinch. It also has a mobile friendly design to fit with the content consumption habits of the entertainment industry. Additionally, integrating newsletter distribution with the site provides the industry, as well as those interested in it, with news curated and tailored to their individual needs.