By 2020, digital subscriptions will be the “shining star that saves the industry,” which is why Calkins Media has put a lot of emphasis on them in recent years, according to Guy Tasaka, chief digital officer at Calkins. 

“We believe that it is the future of local media,” Tasaka said at the INMA Business Strategies 2020 Conference in Chicago. “We’re transitioning from a print circulation model into a digital subscription company that also includes print.”

Because of search and social media, digital advertising will continue to be difficult, Tasaka said. As it focuses on digital subscriptions, Calkins is investing in infrastructure and people.

Step one: Stop calling it circulation. Call it digital subscriptions.

“We really need to make digital subscriptions what used to be circulation ... being the cool, sexy area that people want to come into. You want to attract the best and the brightest into that area.

OTT (over-the-top content) is also key. Subscribers at Calkins have access to video-on-demand. At some point, they may have access to free classified ads.

“Theres a lot of things we want to put into the digital subscription bundle. The other thing we really have to do is not tie ourselves to a print subscription system that also does digital. We need to build from a digital subcription system that also does print.