Are we listening?

By Maria Terrell

M.Terrell Consulting

Dallas, Texas, USA


INMA is hosting a two-day initiative called INMA Connect: Educate, Engage, Experience — or E3 for short. This is a new initiative for INMA North America, combining first-class lectures with unconference discussions and one-on-one office hours to provide a deep experience not usually seen at industry conferences.

The first E3 will focus on subscriptions and video, which are the highest priority subjects for INMA members in North America.

As chair, I’m highly involved in the programming for these two dedicated days, and it has inevitably sparked this blog posts. Looking at the two topics, this blog post has two veins:

  1. Are we listening?
  2. Seriously, ARE we listening???

Are we listening?

The perfect subscription model seems to be elusive to so many publishers. The models range from content only available behind a meter, those trying freemium, others with micro-payments, and some that aren’t really clear about what they’re doing. In all of these models, it appears we haven’t answered the question.

Subscribers and potential subscribers are all providing feedback about what they want, what content is the most important, and how they’d like to receive and consume content.

Would consumers like free content? Of course. However, if you look at the feedback from readers who are frustrated by your required subscription logins (the paywall), it’s the potential subscribers who you haven’t educated on the value of your subscription.

All publishers have Web sites, e-editions, apps, curated newsletters, and news alerts of some sort. Are we communicating the value of having every type of delivery and consumption vehicle for our content to our subscribers? How many of us are still leading our sales pitch with discounted (read: de-valued) prices for subscriptions? 

The New York Times is enticing subscribers with discounts.
The New York Times is enticing subscribers with discounts.

The Washington Post promotes its strongest selling point: content.
The Washington Post promotes its strongest selling point: content.

The Los Angeles Times wants to grab readers with discounts as well.
The Los Angeles Times wants to grab readers with discounts as well.

The editorial and audience/circulation/subscription departments are still at odds about how to work together in many of our organisations. Editorial wants the content read and wants the engagement. Audience departments want subscribers — paying subscribers. How many of us are listening to subscribers, potential subscribers, and each other and developing strategies promoting our amazing content and value of subscriptions together — not just price?

Are we building campaigns showcasing the quality content and how we’re providing it in every possible vehicle and format for our readers? A one-two punch of quality content and value of being the source of vital community news accessible how, when, and where you want it. This educates the market, reinforces your value proposition, and grows your subscriptions. Remember, as Warren Buffet said, “Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.”

Are we educating our audiences on what they get? The benefits? Or are we leading with just price? Correction: Are we leading with our discounted prices or free trials? How is this instilling value?

Hopefully through our Subscription Models Summit of E3, we’ll get to the bottom of models that are working, and start communicating the value of subscription over just the discounted price.

Seriously, ARE we listening?

The second day of E3 is about video revenue. How do we monetise video? Let’s face it, this is steadily replacing text as the dominant form for news consumers. It’s not something we can ignore. “Video” is to the news media industry in 2017 what “mobile” was five years ago. We all knew we had to be “mobile,” but we were struggling to understand what that meant.

Here are some staggering stats from WordStream that should further enforce point two. Video is vital.

Publishers are drooling over the engagement of video on their sites and Facebook pages. They’re also challenged with staffing, budget, and bandwidth issues while being asked for more video content creations from their newsrooms.

For many of us in the U.S., we’re avoiding investing in video in a “wait-and-see” mentality. Others are happy to welcome all the video their teams are willing to create, as long as it isn’t hitting the bottom line.

Seriously, are we listening? All trends point to video driving engagement with your content, while also creating new revenue opportunities in advertising, and bringing new storytelling opportunities to journalism.

Just as “mobile” was the next transition for us after the Internet, “video” is now upon us. The discussion around the revenue opportunities and models for success needs to be shared extensively and will make up the dynamic closing day of INMA Connect: Educate, Engage, Experience” or E3 if you’re listening. We hope to see you there.

Register now and reference this blog to receive our early bird discounted registration rate.

About Maria Terrell

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