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Out of the Box

World Congress speakers offer playbook on bringing sexy back

06 May 2013 · By Kylie Davis

Throughout INMA World Congress 2013 in New York, various speakers suggested actions news media companies can take to make their products more attractive.

P.J. Pereira told news executives at the INMA World Congress last week they had to “bring sexy back to newspapers.”

But how does an industry — one that traditionally has had a reputation for dancing like an elderly uncle with too many drinks under his belt at a family wedding — start busting a move like Timberlake or Beyoncé?

Below is a summary of the tweets and grabs that came out of the conference. Individually they made great headlines; but re-organised, they give us a great playbook for how we should be getting it on.

First of all, we need to recognise: “The future is here. It just isn’t evenly distributed.” (Rob Grimshaw, Financial Times)

And that’s because “You can’t run a $30 newsroom in a $2 world.” (Lewis D’Vorkin, Forbes Media)

Arianna Huffington (Huffington Post) touched on the fundamental shift saying we need to “Stop behaving like Mount Olympus” because it’s “all about participation, not presentation.”

If Mohummad won’t go to the mountain, the mountain will need to go to Mohummad. For centuries, newspapers have had a “build it and they will come” mentality about the mountain, but now mobile media ensures “there is no physical boundary to your product” (James McQuivey, Forrester).

This means a fundamental deconstruction of existing media businesses. What does that look like?

Well, “don’t be a publishing platform, be a curated network,” said D’Vorkin.

“Change your culture, change the rules, change your share and don’t stop” (Grimshaw).

Slash your variable costs and recognise your future is probably majority digital and minority print, said Greg Hywood (Fairfax Media).

But don’t freak out. Remember: “Quality journalism is a great business to be in” (Jill Abramson, The New York Times).

Incentivise your journalists to build their own brands (Grzegorz Piechota, Gazeta Wyborcza).

Don’t worry about control. Let them self-publish. Their personal brand as a journalist is worth more when it’s associated with your masthead (Abramson).

Encourage your reporters to add value to the community you serve — both your community of readers and your community of advertisers. And do that by solving problems for them (Huffington).

Realise “people are searching for meaning and wisdom, not just information” (Huffington). So, be a relentless product machine — launch something every week (D’Vorkin).

Feel a sense of comfort that “we are relevant and trusted to the mobile generation who are comfortable with paying for information from trusted sources” (Michael Lamb, McKinsey & Co.).

And don’t get too hung up. “Don’t build the future, build the next thing people need” (McQuivey). Instead “innovate the adjacent.”

Remember, “you don’t get there in one go, it’s a journey” (Hywood), because “structural change does not come in easy manageable steps.”

And if all of this sounds exhausting and impossible and beyond the power of your creative juices, switch off the devices and “get a good night’s sleep” (Huffington).

Because, as any parents of young children will tell you, when you’re tired, sexy is never coming back and no one gets any action. You know what I’m talking about.

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About this blog

Kylie Davis is the head of real estate solutions, Australia and New Zealand, at CoreLogic, the world’s largest provider of property data. She was previously the network editor of real estate at News Corp Australia, managing editor of business development at Fairfax, and founder of The Village Voice group of newspapers. Follow her @kyliecdavis.


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