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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 ...


Where you go wrong with interactivity — and 4 ways of getting back on track

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: 


5 reasons you suck at innovation

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.


In hunt for revenues, don’t lose sight of journalistic integrity

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.

The Internet of Things is already here and soon will merge with the Quantified Self evolution into the future Smart World, where transparency becomes the default and facts will be revealed.

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.


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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