I have in front of me three strategic priority lists from:

  • One of North America's leading media companies.

  • One of Europe's leading media companies.

  • The INMA Board of Directors for 2010.

Everybody seems to be circling around a few key themes, so let me bring them together in one location.

The “how” of newsmedia: First, INMA changed its name two years ago from “newspaper” to “newsmedia” and explained to the world why this was necessary for us and the companies we serve. We spent 2009 explaining what a multi-platform newsmedia company might look like. In 2010, we will spend a lot of energy showing how to make the transition – very practical stuff from the commercial side to the editorial side.

Real CRM: Second, I wrote a book 11 years ago titled Newspapers and CRM. Don't worry: it's old and should be thrown away. Because the key lesson from that book was that newspapers can buy the CRM toys and plug them into the wall. Yet they under-invested in the people to creatively make them work. Fast-forward to 2010: the major media companies realise that without core customer knowledge (advertisers and readers), they have little differentiation with the one-person blogs that are eating away at them at the edges.

Content value: Third, all of our member companies are sitting on assets hidden inside a print bundle. To fully know the value of these assets, they must be disaggregated and a price tag put on them. What will consumers pay for, and what won't they pay for? This is the Great Experiment of our industry.

Changes in marketing: Fourth, not only is marketing changing rapidly but what we are marketing is an open question in our industry. If we truly embrace the different functionalities of different platforms, then are we marketing a brand, some kind of multi-media membership, or the tangible uses of each medium?

Audience engagement beyond journalism: Fifth, how do we engage audiences beyond narrative journalism? It's not going to be enough to do good journalism as we've done it in the past. It's going to be about making community databases accessible on a one-click basis. It's going to be about facilitating conversation among the most connected in your community. Either we create passionate audiences that pay us, or we create passionate audiences for which advertisers are willing to pay a premium.

For a few lucky countries (Brazil, Australia), the light at the end of this recessionary tunnel has already shown itself. For the United States, it will probably be another 6-9 months. For Europe, it will be another 12 months. If I've learned anything from our industry, it is that our myriad of narcissistic cultures are unwilling to change once good times return.

By focusing on the “how” of newsmedia, real CRM implementation, the value of content, the marketing focus, and value propositions beyond journalism, we have a better opportunity to reposition our industry for growth when good times return in 2011.