Now this is a title I don’t come across every day: head of organisational and talent development.

Dr. Melina Lohmann took that role at Germany’s family-run NWZ Mediengruppe (Nordwest-Zeitung) less than a month ago. She has been with the company since 2013 and became a member of INMA’s European Division Board in November.

We caught up with her last week to talk about what she’s thinking, most excited about, and worried about for the year ahead. She highlighted four key areas: enthusiasm, regionalisation, motion, and speed.

INMA:  What is Nordwest-Zeitung’s biggest idea/initiative for the coming year? 

Lohmann: Enthusiasm. It’s not exactly one special product or idea that will save us over the coming year. It is much more the (young) people — especially in the digital sector — who want to develop strong products and have their eyes and ears on the market (while being producer and consumer at the same time). 

In 2019, we will position the company in such a way that employees can develop the best possible products according to their abilities and passions. 

Empowerment and a new understanding of leadership will be two of the key factors. Our new products, such as our subscriber app or our digital campaigns, are being driven significantly by these changes. 

INMA: What do you see as the big opportunities in 2019 and how are you taking advantage of them?

Lohmann: Regionalisation. As the trend towards an increasing return to the regional is set to continue, we as a regional media house will also benefit — especially when we talk about digitalisation. We are not the first row experts but we are a trusted brand. 

In particular, smaller companies in our region are often simply overwhelmed by the complex changes that digitalisation brings with it. With us as a partner, they have the opportunity to follow the path of digitalisation in a comprehensible, sustainable, and trustworthy manner. This is where we suddenly come back from the bench in the middle of the game — through trust and regional expertise. The same applies to regional newspaper content. 

New products at Nordwest-Zeitung, such as a subscriber app and digital campaigns, are being driven by empowerment and a new look at leadership.
New products at Nordwest-Zeitung, such as a subscriber app and digital campaigns, are being driven by empowerment and a new look at leadership.

INMA: What success within your company are you most proud of at this moment?

Lohmann: Motion. Employees recognise the need for change and this is gradually becoming noticeable in our products: A better performance of our digital products, a stronger regional focus of our newspaper, a new benefit club for our subscribers, strong social media formats, a new CRM system for better up- and cross-selling. All this and much more is happening right now. 

Is it enough? Certainly not. ut we have made an important start and now we have to continue along this path. 

INMA: What keeps you up at night?

Lohmann: Speed. The accelerated movement of the market on the one hand and the internal acceleration in direction of change processes on the other hand. Can we really keep up the pace?