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10 big ideas that will guide news publishers in 2014

13 January 2014 · By Earl J. Wilkinson

Among the trends that emerged from the new INMA News Media Outlook report: Digital won’t replace print; a new digital business model is needed; it’s time to fish out of bigger revenue ponds; the innovation gap continues to widen; and culture change fatigue lurks.

Picture of a man with several arms holding a news paper, tablet, magazine laptop and cell phone.

The growth path for news publishers in 2014 boils down to diversifying revenue streams beyond “print + digital,” developing a transformation storyline, nurturing the “new” news brand, and building foundations that will pay off in outlying years.

Drawing these conclusions for INMA’s “News Media Outlook 2014: Navigating the Minefield” report released last month, I relaxed comfortably over the holidays knowing media companies have become accustomed to the “new normal” of getting out the next edition and constantly reinventing their business models.

Now that the holidays are over and I prepare for a global Webinar on the report for INMA members, I am looking back at the Outlook report with fresh eyes.

Here are 10 thoughts on the report that stand out for me:

  1. Digital replacing print: Digital revenue will not replace print revenue. Filling the print advertising hole will be about “print + digital + other things.”

  2. New digital business models: People keep writing the obituary of the print business model. Yet here we are, entering 2014, and the digital business model for publishers is dead or dying, and we are reinventing that on the fly.

  3. Fish out of bigger ponds: Publishers stay up at night fretting about how to get more fish out of dry ponds. Instead, fish out of bigger ponds: local digital advertising, promotions, mobile, online video, content marketing, events.

  4. Innovation gap: There is a widening innovation gap between the global publishing brands and their regional counterparts. Part of it is scale. Part of it is willingness to commit large swaths of their budget to experimentation. This can be seen in paid content ventures and Big Data, especially. Because of scale, yesterday’s leaders are becoming today’s fast-followers.

  5. Culture change fatigue: News publishers must change their corporate cultures to operate in the new multi-media world. Yet in some cases, the speed of change and the lack of formal structures for that change have been too much, too fast. There is an emerging culture change fatigue that should give managements pause to consider structure and pace moving forward.

  6. Hybrid news brand opportunity for reinvention: The new hybrid news brand gives publishers so many opportunities for reinvention. News brands must be likeable, authoritative, and perceived as unique or different.

  7. Paid content works: Jeff Jarvis and other critics were dead wrong about consumer paid content. The reasons were that they saw only blind mass markets, and they used the United States as a proxy for the whole world. Paid content works with the right market segmentation, the right product segmentation, a user-friendly sign-up experience, and a clear value proposition.

  8. Online local advertising: By 2018, online will generate more local advertising sales in the United States than newspapers, radio, TV, direct mail, directories, cable, cinema, outdoor and telemarketing combined.

  9. Curated editions: There is a “back to the future” trend emerging with curated “editions” of publications on digital platforms, notably the tablet.

  10. Best NIE programme a smartphone strategy: It is clear from the data that the best Newspaper In Education (NIE) programme is a healthy investment in smartphones.

For the 6,100+ members of INMA worldwide, these points are part of the “INMA conversation” that goes on every day via blogs, social media, conferences, and strategic reports.

Let’s keep the conversation alive in 2014!

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About Earl

Earl J. Wilkinson is executive director and CEO of INMA. In his interactions with INMA members worldwide, Earl has one of the broadest views of newspapers of anyone serving our industry today. He is a trendspotter and a leading advocate for cultural change, transformation, and innovation. This blog represents his unique view of the emerging global news media industry.

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