To keep up with change, GFR Media in Puerto Rico has become an expert at adapting to new trends and formats. During INMA’s recent Latin America News Media Summit, members heard from Selymar Colón, the company’s digital executive director, about how it has been able to adjust to changes in the market.
As the leading publisher in Puerto Rico, GFR Media’s properties include the two leading newspapers and, although it is in the adolescent stage of its digital transformation, it holds the top position in the digital space. To maintain that, Colón said the company is focusing on innovation.
“We have to keep on building a business that allows us to focus on [readers’] needs so that our content … attracts advertisers,” she said. That will allow them to continue drawing the revenue needed for innovation.
GFR was not where it wanted to be in terms of audience engagement, Colón said, so it began looking at how it could own the audience and create a big enough range of products and strategies to grow that audience. That has included looking at how to use social platforms.
“Four years ago, nobody had heard about TikTok and now it is a growing possibility,” she said. “Instagram is another platform that is growing. TikTok and Instagram are the fastest-growing platforms, and this is where we want to be.”
The last two decades have seen rapid and dramatic changes for the entire industry, and Colón said that will continue. That means GFR has needed to adapt to a working style that anticipates and embraces change.
“This is the only constant we know,” she said. “We used to have a print versus digital rhythm in the newsroom, where the teams had this priority publishing on paper and the [digital] team was a lot smaller. The growth was very low in terms of the new audiences.”
That has changed, and now 95% of its focus is on digital. The media company has has placed a bigger emphasis on premium content to attract more subscribers and is experimenting with things like generative AI and a game platform. Its business intelligence team also uses analytics to see which technologies should be implemented.
“Technology has really helped us a great deal, and we all know what the benefits are,” she said. “No matter how big the newsroom is, we have to keep the pace.”
Through analytics, GFR can see what the audience is paying attention to and focus more efforts in those areas.
“We are working on different strategies to find products that can have direct access to the audience,” Colón said. “Other things we have done were identify what editorial products have the potential of monetisation.”
This has included brand studio marketing, marketing content, podcasts, and newsletters. It has also meant exploring new areas, such as leveraging its historical photo archives and creating exhibits. In 2022, it hosted an exhibit to celebrate an event that happened in Puerto Rico in the 1950s.
“This exhibit was very big in Puerto Rico. It was a public exhibit in the city of San Juan,” she said, adding that it has taken on a life of its own and will be seen in Pittsburgh. “This product is evolving now even in our e-commerce platform. So this is how we are growing, this is how we are experimenting within our own products to maximise and make use of our audience.”