Hiring and keeping product team members requires vision in today’s media companies

By Jodie Hopperton

INMA

Los Angeles, California, United States

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Hi there. We’ve been busy continuing the conversation around product and editorial with two virtual events. 

John Kundert (JK), chief product officer at Financial Times in the UK, Karl Oskar Teien, director of product for Norway’s Aftenposten, and I talked about how deeply editorial and product should be aligned. Karl shared three building blocks Aftenposten has used to establish a shared world view. JK talked about how the FT has established boards for its main pillars and how product establishes value in it’s own right. You can get the recording here, the INMA write up here, and the presentations here

Also Ben Haywood, director of product at Nine Australia, shared his five principles for an effective partnership between product and editorial (summarised here) at INMA Asia/Pacific News Media Summit last week. You can see my intro to product and Ben’s presentation here

I hope you get to see these excellent presentations and learn as much as I did. Tell me your takeaways by e-mailing me at jodie.hopperton@INMA.org.

How much editorial know-how do product people need in news?

This is a question that comes up time and time again in the Product Initiative, alongside “how much technical experience do product people need?” Product teams are growing, so it’s natural that we should question the skill sets and experience levels we should be looking for. Here are a few observations that may help you hire the right people for the roles you have. 

Let’s begin by looking at the make-up of product teams at the moment. If we go back to the survey we ran with INMA members at more than 60 companies from 25 countries last December, we asked: “Have you previously worked in another department within a news organisation? Please select all that apply.” Almost 50% come from the newsroom, 30% from marketing, and 26% from technology or revenue/advertising. It’s clear that many different experiences are represented. 

Now let’s consider the needs of a product team as a whole. The above makes sense as a product team needs to work across all departments. Being able to tap into varying experiences and look at all angles of a problem within your team is ... CONTINUE READING

Defying the churn of product people

As competition for product people heats up, from both inside and outside the industry, salaries are increasing and good product people can afford to be picky. In this competitive marketplace, how can you find and keep good product managers?

In the United States, we are seeing that workers across the board are leaving jobs in droves, which has been put down to people evaluating life choices after the uncertainty of COVID amidst demand for labour picking up in a strong economy. Within product, I consistently hear ... CONTINUE READING

Date for the diary: INMA Product and Data Summit, October 5-19, 2021

Get a sneak peak at the Product and Data Summit in October. INMA Data Initiative Lead Greg Piechota and I are really excited about discussing how to unlock the potential of product and data to put customers at the center of your business to maximise innovation and growth. And we have some excellent speakers in the works, including a workshop with Gibson Biddle, vice president of product at Netflix, who took the company from start-up to 200+ million members. 

You can find out more and register here

Tweet of the week 

One thing that keeps coming through in my conversations with product leaders is the need for new product ideas that align with goals over the need to “follow” other news organisations. 

For example, take a look at this tweet and reply (and the full article, which is detailed below and can be found here). Simple yet ... CONTINUE READING

Recommended reading

I want to preface this much of this section by acknowledging that this week’s articles are grumpy. This isn’t meant to put you in a terrible mood for the week or even to criticise what others have done. These are being highlighted because sometimes we learn more from what we do wrong instead of thinking everything is fantastic.  

Sorry publishers, but your digital products suck, by Frederic Filloux: A frank piece, with some recommended — and often common sense — product improvements for publishers, written by the renowned media Frenchman and friend of INMA, Frederic Filloux.  

I have come to bury Knewz, not to praise it, by Joshua Benton: This is a harsh review but there are some good points and comparisons in there, so it is absolutely worth reading.

And on a positive note, I love some of the ideas in this article: Potential new features in Twitter, by Tony Matthew. There are some ideas in here that could well be adapted to news organisations.  

About this newsletter 

Today’s newsletter is written by Jodie Hopperton, based in Los Angeles and lead for the INMA Product Initiative. Jodie will share research, case studies, and thought leadership on the topic of global news media product.

This newsletter is a public face of the Product Initiative by INMA, outlined here. E-mail Jodie at jodie.hopperton@inma.org with thoughts, suggestions, and questions. Sign up to our Slack channel.

About Jodie Hopperton

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