This month, media expert Toby Beresford, interviews Stephen Walsh, one of the founders of Anders Pink — a hybrid news curation service used internally by one million staff, within employers such as Capgemini and Sodexo.
Why did you create Anders Pink? What problem did you originally aim to solve?
Stephen Walsh: I spent a long time in digital learning, mainly creating courses for clients. Courses and formal learning experiences are vital, but we realised that they’re not the whole answer, and they go out of date fast. New content is published on every topic, every day across the web.
Imagine a course on Crypto or MarTech from a year ago — it’s going to be missing a lot of fresh information. And you can scroll and search every day to stay up to date, but that’s time consuming, and it’s easy to miss high quality, relevant content among all the noise.
So we built Anders Pink to try and solve the problem of staying up to speed on the skills and topics that matter, and finding the right content, easily — what is now called curation. We wanted to make it easier to get a regular, automated, focused feed of content, personalized to your needs to help you stay smart every day.
What problem are you seeking to solve now?
SW: The core challenge remains the same. If anything it’s become more pronounced as the amount of content on the web continues to grow exponentially. Alongside this, the skills in demand keep shifting, with new skill sets emerging – managing virtual teams, for example. We’ve continued to evolve the product to make it easier to surface relevant content, whatever niche you might be working in.
When you think about news curation, putting the right news in front of your audience in the right order, how would you describe the goal of Anders Pink?
SW: News curation is definitely part of what we do – ‘news’ being a subjective word. If I am a sales professional, any activity by my clients and competitors is news, and I want to find out about it immediately. If I am in a technical role, and a niche site publishes a report that’s relevant to my continued learning and skills development — that’s news. We are completely neutral on what content you want, and where you want to get it. As long as it’s on the public web, you can add it to your feed and it’ll update every day.
To ensure the news you provide, meets that goal, do you use AI, human curators or a hybrid model? What’s your approach?
SW: A hybrid. The product is AI driven — we use machine learning to categorise and sort content and context, with our own algorithms. They learn from user preferences and update based on how users engage with the content.
But of course, humans need to specify what they want — it starts with a curator setting some parameters around the topic areas, contexts, and if they want to be very specific, preferred sites and sources. You can then let the automation run, and update every day.
Human curators can add organisational context and insight. AI can do the searching, sorting and fetching. You need both for effective curation.
What would you say are the strengths and weaknesses of your approach versus other approaches?
SW: One of the key strengths for us is that we work inside the ecosystem. We plug our tool and content into a very wide range of learning and collaboration platforms. We know that adding one more interface to the user experience isn’t going to win any friends. So we slot inside the apps that are already in use. We are not trying to be your learning platform, or the app that your organisation logs into.
The other is the automated nature of it. Once you create a content feed, it updates automatically and plugs into your sites, apps and platforms via API. There’s no ongoing manual effort. Our clients save a lot of time this way.
In terms of next steps for the product — our current focus is on automated curation of external web content. We are evolving the tool to be able to curate other forms of content too — your intranet, licensed libraries, legacy content you have made or licensed. Our goal is to help you access the best content to achieve your goals, wherever it might be.
MediaCat Magazine aims to explain the latest thinking at the intersection of marketing and media – how can brands make the best use of Anders Pink media tools to meet their marketing objectives?
SW: I see three main ways readers can use our Marketing Briefings:
- Tapping into trends in marketing: Everyone in marketing needs to stay up to date with new developments. We have many briefings that are focused on very specific areas of marketing. These update every day with fresh content from high quality sites and sources so you can keep sharp on emerging trends.
- Curating content for engagement: Creating blog posts and other forms of marketing content can be powered by curation. If your audience is interested in a topic, you can use Anders Pink to automatically curate content. The marketers as curators can choose a set of particularly relevant ones, add their insights, and create a valuable asset — in far less time than it takes to write a post or create an asset from scratch. You need to do both of course, but our message is curate first, create second. You can also plug a live feed of content from Anders Pink directly into your site, so you become a hub for trending content for your audience.
- Tracking clients and competitors: Watching how the market is changing is vital of course for any brand. You can create a briefing and add your key clients, prospects, competitors. So you don’t miss out on key developments that could be actionable insights for you, e.g. a reason to reach out to a prospect, offer help, start a conversation. This is where curation and social selling intersect.