For much of the past decade, newspapers have talked about a multi-media future with a mix of optimistic clarity and entrepreneurial experimentation. As an industry, we're good at talking about destinations. We're equally bad at talking about the transitions to those destinations.
In the next year, INMA will focus closely on the practicalities of shifting from a print to multi-media culture. Transitions are not as fun as destinations, but for an industry whose foundation is operational excellence — not leadership or imagination — it's likely more relevant.
There are at least seven points to this transition:
- Leadership: Decide whether we organise ourselves based on today's revenue mix or tomorrow's revenue mix, push organisational change that gets us to that destination, and clearly define what success looks like.
- Marketing: Grow expenditures on brand marketing as we extend ourselves across platforms, then create goals and sales and marketing tactics for each platform.
- People: Decide, once and for all, whether the current workforce can be re-trained for multi-media or whether wholesale personnel changes are needed.
- Editorial: Content management and relevance maximisation are key skill sets that should be introduced in newsrooms re-organised on the mobile-first, online-second, print-last news ecology.
- Platform management: Integrate at the content and sales levels, disaggregate for platform specialists so they can add unique value.
- Advertising: Integrated advertising sales is the clear destination, though this can only be implemented if the local advertising community is ready for such a conversation.
- Research/analytics: The complexities of capturing real-time data and creating a relevant audience from it for advertisers and our CEO storytellers is a barrier that must be crossed. Culturally, this is mostly about showing the courage to invest.
Our industry is populated with legacy management teams that are good at operations and poor at imagination. To be realistic, we need to be thinking about the transition to multi-media in templated terms if they stand a chance of being implemented.