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Stop talking like legacy media, start doing like media start-ups

18 February 2015 · by Anette Novak

“The media industry should … ”

“What we have to do is … 

“Your strategy needs to aim at … ”

We are all getting pretty sick and tired of hearing an array of advice from talking heads on conference stages and media strategy profiles on blogs and in the Twittersphere.

It is, however, a more worrying phenomenon than us merely getting frustrated over the “besserwisser” attitude from these non-executives. Lately, I have been unable to free myself from this uneasiness: What if there are more people talking about the work to be done, than those actually working?

I occasionally use a metaphor when I give lectures to business managers. It goes something like this: You are driving along a countryside road and suddenly you lose control over your vehicle. Lucky enough, there is only one, majestic old ...


2 necessary journalism jobs for news media’s digital future

21 January 2015 · by Anette Novak

The last decade has seen a massive downsizing of newsrooms across the western hemisphere. Thousands of reporters, photographers, and editors have been given severance packages, or, in the harsher cases, handed layoff messages.

One of the last major reported cuts happened at The New York Times in October last year. “The job losses are necessary to control our costs…”

When audiences turn away, urgent cuts in cost have been necessary to balance the loss of revenue. But the “old” competence also had to be exchanged for new: print-specialised layout artists for Java programmers, proof readers for SEO experts, writers for video editors.

The result: A historical record of experienced journalists on the dole. Trend spotters paint the dark picture even darker by predicting a gloomy future for anyone daring to venture into journalism today. Career Cast 2014 places newspaper reporter at #199 on their 2014 jobs rated report, slightly ahead of lumberjack at #200.

But it doesn’t have to be this way, and you ...


Closing the gap between “digital first” and “digital all”

16 December 2014 · by Anette Novak

Have you ever been surrounded by “digital” people, speaking a lingo you only approximately grasp, dropping names and abbreviations you definitely don’t understand, using tools and platforms you’ve never heard of?

Well this is how a great part of your audience feels, too!

So how about changing your vision from “digital first” to “digital all,” making it your mission to close the knowledge gap, getting everyone on board.

The movement toward the connected society is picking up in speed. The number of new digital initiatives, hardware, platforms, and services are constantly increasing. Even the most avid early adopter has tremendous difficulties keeping up.

Know your RFP, CDN, CPAs and CTRs.* No clue what those mean? Well, guess what – neither do ...


Real-time news equals relevance, and relevance equals quality

09 November 2014 · by Anette Novak

So you have your digital subscription model ready for launch, or already up and running? Then it is safe to say that you have spent many expensive work hours at top management level to sort out your pricing strategy.

Freemium or not. Whatever you opted for, and whatever is or is not working for you, your biggest risk is not price. It is not even the business model.

No, all your efforts will fail if you are not able to deliver top quality.

The Gucci family slogan could not be more on the spot: “Quality is remembered, long after the price is forgotten.”

So how are you doing on the quality side? To me there are two major focus areas here:

  • Content.

  • Service.

Today, we will explore the first one: content. Let’s kill the myth once and for all that traditional media is the equivalent of quality content.

Many of you are still confident that your journalists, editors, and photo desk have what it takes. But do they really?

And, if so, has the downsizing of ...


Traditional media companies should act as society builders

14 October 2014 · by Anette Novak

You all vow to build stronger ties with your audience. Well, creating relationships is not a bad strategy. Agreed.

But to create true, lasting bonds you need to cure yourself from the BuzzFeed fix – doping traffic and believing this will capture dollars.

Instead you need to start the long-term wholesome cure of grabbing hearts.

Instead of traffic all-time-high records, you need to slowly assemble your most valuable asset: your social capital.

At this time of history, the world is in dire need of a vision of what a successful future society ...


Can the media industry Spotify content?

09 September 2014 · by Anette Novak

Top business minds often claim that the key to success in times of restructuring is asking the right questions. But what if we are asking the wrong questions? What if the question isn’t how will we make people pay for quality journalism?

Some of the best case studies on successful business development contain the very same ingredient: The creation of new revenue streams by selling something completely different than the traditional core product.

That is the case with lowfare airlines, which give away the actual flight, moving the target from passengers to destinations, moving the unique selling proposition (USP) from “transporting people” to ...


Sure, your media company claims “digital first” — but does it hire like it?

18 August 2014 · by Anette Novak

It’s been five years now since you’ve solemnly vowed “digital first.”

It might have felt like a bold step at the time, but by now you should have adapted. Your customers, current and future, have all gone digital. They are “digital first.”

But are you?

Have you taken all the necessary steps to deliver on this sacred promise?

  • Do you have the supporting business models?

  • Do you invest more in digital R&D than in print, property, or any other venture you might have launched to diversify revenue?

  • Are you recruiting the talent that will be able to lift your operation into this bright, interactive future?

Because it is definitely bright — for those who ticked the above points. If you haven’t, that makes me ...


Engagement — not content — is key to building stronger media industry, world

08 July 2014 · by Anette Novak

Legacy media is not fading alone.

With it falls part of the old establishment – and society as we know it.

Digital transformation could propel us into a stronger, more close-knit and enlightened community than ever before. But it could also develop into another, much darker scenario.

This current pivotal act carries a risk, but also a major opportunity for media companies – to carve out a central position in building the new, connected, sustainable society. With people. By people.

Once upon a time in a country far away, there was a little village. To this village, the Storyteller would regularly arrive, and everyone would gather around the fire to listen to the enchanting stories.

There was expectation before she came. There was focus when she spoke. And there was joy in remembering the shared experience after she left.

Today, the Storyteller still comes to the village, but when she does, no one has any time for her. They are all busy telling their own stories to their own crowds – or listening to other storytellers, far away.

Our Storyteller feels lost. Sad. And on the verge of giving up.

The Storyteller is, of course, an analogy of a traditional media brand which, with the digital transition, has lost ...


7 steps to improve your media brand’s transparency, bolster consumer trust

11 June 2014 · by Anette Novak

Any media company relies on open access to information principles to be successful in compiling interesting stories. Reporters and editors demand openness from people in power.

But do you realise your audiences demand the equivalent from you?

Let me put it to you: No, you don’t. Your transparency work is failing. And it’s failing hard.

This is particularly troublesome since it carries the solution to weakening audience trust, offers an easy way to lower your costs – and could actually be the factor that differentiates you from Google.

During a recent lecture tour to Finland, working for business university Hanken and their clients (a multi-national retail chain), I stumbled upon ...


Analytics are news media’s best friend — trust them

14 May 2014 · by Anette Novak

One of the most crucial parts of news media operations is also one of the most ignored from a management point of view:

The content mix.

Instead of digital automation to control it better than ever before, many still rely on the editors’ gut feelings.

Your blend is your brand. And to defend your investment you need structure. Now.

Every journalist and editor knows how essential the content curation is for the overall reader experience.

Presenting too many long and complicated pieces, covering intricate political and financial matters, risks boring your audience into leaving. Too many quirkies might result in great short-term reader stats – but endanger your image in the long term.

These truths have existed as long as news media, even though strategies were ...


About this blog

I am Anette Novak, CEO of Interactive Institute Swedish ICT, which conducts world-class applied research and innovation, creating groundbreaking user experiences. Also, I am an international media consultant, World Editors Forum board member, gourmet, long distance runner and Francophile – mainly because the Parisians walk and talk as fast as I do. I am former editor-in-chief of the Swedish regional media house Norran. I believe in digital opportunities for publishers, open innovation. The future belongs to media companies that are able to maintain the trust of the audience, who define themselves as active community players, and who are able to create amazing experiences.


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