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 ......[more]
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 ......[more]
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 ......[more]
07 April 2014 · by Anette Novak
It is soon 21 years since the first Web page was created.
Sure, a lot of things have happened since this early how-to-do-the-Internet-manual, but more on design side than on the user experience. Why are we still offering mass communicating, static tools to our interactive hungry audiences?
If you want to impact, change things, create – or simply interact with others – browsing around international news sites is one of the most disappointing experiences you can find:
- You are allowed to comment – but you cannot alter the content (even when you pertinently know that it is wrong).
- You are allowed to choose between free or premium material. Under the same brand. But rarely blend your own cocktail. Nor create your own design.
- You are allowed to – at best –add a smiley (but you cannot say if you opt for the angry one because you dislike a certain opinion, the writer, or someone quoted in the article/clip).
Ladies and gentlemen of the news media, why is interactivity so bleeding difficult?
You can call it “digital first” or “online first” as much as you want. You are still losing the battle against the disruptives if you do not open up your operations towards the crowd (and unleash the power within it).
Now, enough with the bickering. Voilà! Here’s the constructive, pepping coach talk on what you already should be doing:...[more]
11 March 2014 · by Anette Novak
We have been on about it for more than five years: We have to start innovating. Experimenting. Testing.
But, sincerely, how many inventions have you actually developed, tested, and launched during this period of time?
The truth, of course: too few.
As I said in frustration to the WAN-IFRA World Newspaper Congress in Bangkok last year: “If you were innovating enough, we would have heard about it!”
Last week, during a panel I moderated at the #Meg14 conference – one of Sweden’ s most important conferences for trademark media (digital, broadcast, and print) – I realised we need to dissect this limp industry body and find out what’s wrong.
So, the question is: Why do you suck at innovation? Here are five possible answers....[more]
12 February 2014 · by Anette Novak
Still believe you are delivering “objective” journalism? That your reporters tell neutral stories, balancing different opinions and staying impartial?
Welcome to reality: They try, but they fail. And sometimes they don’t even try.
For those media companies who haven’t shaped up by then, digital doomsday is here.
While this industry is struggling to monetise quality journalism, there is an obvious risk that strategy discussions will become finance-focused, that we’ll forget the deeper values that are the true success factors when it comes to attracting future customers.
If your organisation’s long-term purpose is not clearly defined, you risk not only stagnation (in a time when rapid ability to adapt to change is business critical), but also you might end up with individual staff members creating their own purposes. And few of them will put the interest of the audience – or your company – first.
Some of this behaviour derives from personal agendas....[more]
12 January 2014 · by Anette Novak
If you are a news media executive, chances are you have been, are in the process of, or soon will be laying off newsroom staff. Or maybe all of the above.
With all eyes on the downward spiraling print curves, you feel obliged, muffling your guilty conscience with the “requirements of the owners” speech.
And, yes, staff costs. Yet, the costs are no longer your problem. And this respresents the one New Year’s resolution you need to make in order to make 2014 the turn-around year.
The downsizing of newsrooms has been a contagious disease all across the Western Hemisphere for the last two decades. In the early ’90s, it was a way of keeping profit margins high. Today, it’s the last resort to keep afloat....[more]
09 December 2013 · by Anette Novak
What if I said you were missing half of your target group? Would you listen?
What if I could show you they are the most positive, the most active, and the most influential? Would you believe me?
What if I said you can start attending to the needs of this crowd with some simple measures? Would you act?
While news media business fights for survival, there are other industries thriving on our quest for answers, making money on the thirst for a sustainable business model for quality journalism. I have not been able to find a global number representing the turnover on media conferences. But my gut feeling – and the fact that ad sales companies and management consultants are turning into conference organisers as we speak – is that this segment of the meeting industry is exploding.
- “We bring together leaders of global media groups.”
- “Hear the latest research.”
- “Connect, network, explore…”
Amid this constantly increasing flood of invitations, I received one the other day that managed to catch my eye. It was from “Digital Media Strategies 2014,” sent from what seemed to be a private e-mail account.
The list of keynotes was impressive:
The way the organisers managed to simply exclude half of humanity’s input provoked me so much that I invested my time in writing them an answer: “Dear Tim, Thank you for the invitation. I hope that I must not deduce from the speakers list that this is an all-male conference.”
18 November 2013 · by Anette Novak
At the Noi Bai international airport in Hanoi, trying to buy a small packet of peanuts recently proved extremely revealing.
At the first counter, there were three attendants: One was on her smartphone, while the second was braiding the third’s hair. None even looked up at the client, ready to make a purchase.
Second try: two men discussing with each other. Neither seemed interested if there were clients or not, let alone if they scored any sales.
My first guess is these non-devoted employees in the state-run airport shops earn monthly salaries for “looking after the store,” and no incentives such as sales commissions and no feedback such as client satisfaction surveys.
My second, not so wild guess: The turnover is far from dazzling.
This experience, made last week in Vietnam, where I was facilitating a workshop on the future challenges of journalism training, pulled my attention to a similar pattern in our own industry: The clients storm into our “stores,” but we don’t greet them, we don’t smile at them – and, most importantly, we don’t sell them much.
Even though they, in many cases, are eagerly looking for a product or a service.
One pretty remarkable assumption we base many of our managerial decisions on is that media consumers cannot be guided or steered. They are irrational, disloyal, and all we can do is follow what they do and try our best to adapt....[more]
15 October 2013 · by Anette Novak
To grasp a confusing present and a complex future, taking a thorough look in the rearview mirror can prove helpful. So let’s do just that. Let’s do some print-historical archaeology work.
In the good old days, the news media offer was not simply the delivery of news updates (as many tend to remember). If we dig through the top layers, we will unearth a rather complex offer, attending to a multitude of customer needs.
Sure — local, national, and international news represented one dimension. But there were more. So many more.
Here is an attempt to create a list – and to investigate the hidden opportunities up for grabs for anyone who manages to translate them to a connected, interactive, and collaborative present.
- Op-eds: It was never just news with views. It was value-based leadership, giving a sense of purpose and direction to the community. In the digital era – paradoxically enough — analogue events are more important than ever before.
Instead of writing about what must change, you can act it out, co-creating a better future for everyone. The editorial maxim that “racism is not acceptable” translates into integration projects in real life, bringing people closer together, growing minds — and relationships.
- Statistical data: Property prices, company transfers, vehicles, salaries, or crime rates — public data is a goldmine for anyone who wishes to offer live, geo-located utility.
Pinpoint the needs of different audiences, within different contexts. Offer simple and easy-to-use personalisation options, add interactive and collaborative layers, and — voilà — you have moved the boring, mostly non-relevant listings of the print version into day-to-day mobile necessities.
- Weather reports: We never get tired of discussing the amount of rain or sunshine, winds, and waves — what’s normal and what’s not. But where are the interactive maps, the crowd collaboration, the sensors collecting community-specific local data like snow depths or water levels?