INMA kicked off its 90th Annual World Congress of News Media today — for the first time ever, in a virtual setting.
Some 332 media executives from 43 countries converged around their computer screens, tablets, and mobile devices to hear a futurist, a marketer, and a design guru try to make sense of what comes next for media companies after this COVID-19 moment.
Under the Congress theme of “Rethinking News Media in the Age of Coronavirus,” today’s opening module focused on “where news media goes next after COVID-19.” Themes that emerged from the first module from futurist Ross Dawson, eMarketer’s Geoff Ramsey, and design strategist Mario Garcia include:
- The future: Media and other societal institutions are experiencing a rising “trust moment,” how news brands respond today’s crisis will determine future relationships, the crisis will yield new fluidity in where consumers make purchasing decisions, and work will get rebalanced across office, home, and virtual spaces.
- Consumers: As COVID opens the gates for new audiences, it is changing how people interact with media. For example, research shows forced isolation has added one hour to daily media consumption — with news, mobile, audio, and streaming up.
- Advertising: News publishers are seeing a bigger hit on programmatic than publishers in general, while there is a slight shift away from programmatic to direct buying from premium publishers. Only 16% of people look “less favourably” on advertising next to COVID-19 coverage.
- Storytelling: COVID is intensifying the consumer’s relationship with her mobile device, meaning contextual “journalism of everywhere with interruptions” is the “new normal.”
Today marked the first of nine two-hour Virtual World Congress modules scheduled May 5-28, a style of conference that INMA CEO Earl J. Wilkinson said plays to the fact that two hours is usually a person’s maximum attention span in one sitting.
In total, the INMA Virtual World Congress will include 18 hours of programming over those nine modules featuring 50 speakers.
INMA cancelled its Paris World Congress on March 13, and the association’s board of directors announced the Virtual World Congress on April 9.
In only three weeks, INMA:
- Merged Paris programming with COVID-19 programming and tilted the theme in how publishers are creatively responding to the pandemic and its economic effects.
- Built a Web site.
- Marketed the virtual event.
- Made a plan to execute a creative combination of in-person conference and Webinar.
Using Zoom, INMA created home studios, recruited moderators, and brought in dozens of new speakers. The association will spend 24+ hours rehearsing with the 50+ speakers, navigating time zones and the inevitable technical glitches that come with computers, WiFi, studios, and Zoom itself.
Asked his reaction to today’s first module, Wilkinson answered: “Relief at being able to pull this off.”
“This was a team effort from the minute the board decisively approved the Paris World Congress’ cancellation to our staff’s ability to ideate concepts that have little to no peer in the association world,” Wilkinson said. “This extends to the past 36 hours during which one-third of our participants registered. This has posed logistical and creative challenges that our staff has embraced.”
In addition to the livestream World Congress, INMA will provide registrants full access to recordings and presentations. (To register for this month’s World Congress, click here.) Non-attendees can follow along with basic coverage here.
“We have additional creative flourishes to unveil, yet the truth is there is a lot of brainstorming, experimenting, screwing up, and learning,” Wilkinson said. “It’s going to make one hell of a case study once we get through all nine modules. I’m glad INMA members are patient with us.”
There were few glitches in today’s inaugural Virtual World Congress other than audio challenges in one session and an unexpected visitor in the home of another presenter. “I trust there will be more serendipitous moments in the next month. You never know what’s going to happen next at the INMA World Congress,” Wilkinson said.
The INMA Virtual World Congress resumes Thursday with a module titled “Subscription Experiences Amid the Surge: Opportunities in Chaos.” The Zuora-sponsored module will be moderated and keynoted by INMA Researcher-in-Residence Grzegorz (Greg) Piechota and feature a fireside chat with author Robbie Kellman Baxter on subscriptions in the COVID moment. INMA attendees will hear case studies from Dagens Nyheter, Le Monde, Singapore Press Holdings, and Gannett | USA Today Network on how they are approaching subscriptions during the pandemic. A profile on the work of The Subscribed Institute also will be included in the module.