When I watch the various industry leaders and thought processes that continue to unfold throughout the news media industry, I have grave concerns for our future as a whole.
After more than a decade, I still see two dominate schools of thought that permeate through the industry, both of which I believe to be severely flawed.
On one hand, we have the traditionalist approach that believes we must milk the print side of the slate as long as possible, allowing as much time as possible to get our digital sea legs established.
On the other hand, we have those going full speed ahead into the digital frontier with little real regard for their print brethren. Now, to be fair to them, they don’t say this publicly, but it is apparent in their pricing, print strategies, and digital aggressiveness that they fall into this school of thought.
As in most situations such as these, there is some truth in both approaches. So while I fully accept various components of both of those strategies, I also believe that both in and of themselves are mere exercises in futility. Some will accuse me of being simple-minded, but at times it is the simplicity that can actually help us embark on the road less traveled.
You see, clinging to print as your strategy will only lead to slow and certain death.
That isn’t my opinion. One needs only to view solid financial and audience trends that have been firmly entrenched in nearly every sized market. Those declining trend lines simply are yelling at us that you are on the wrong path.
Diving headfirst into the deep end of the digital pool is going to hurt, as the digital water level is proving to be quite shallow. You see, except for a very few national brands with massive and broad brand appeal, the revenue math on the digital side of the equation in our local markets simply doesn’t add up. That is very plain and quite simple.
So while the traditional approach coupled with the digital approach needs to be nurtured in some ways, if you are placing your future revenue eggs in either or even both of those two baskets, the end is drawing nigh.
To continue to support the content model that allows for the maximum news coverage and delivery on as many of the various content platforms that make sense in your market, the time of reckoning and veering away from the herd mentality has come for most markets.
It is time to embark on the road less traveled.
What is the road less traveled? Your own road less traveled in your market may be one major fork in the road or many forks in the road. I tend to lean toward the many forks in the road.
It could be tackling the data angle. Our industry is so well positioned to take advantage of this road. In fact, Facebook and Google are two of the most successful companies, and it is because of their persistence and perfection of compiling and then utilising data.
Events offer another fork in the road that can be very lucrative. There are few other businesses sitting in the driver’s seat of events. We have the capability to excel in marketing, promoting, and utilising our brands to bring it all together, and few are able to do so as effectively as we should be able to.
Another less traveled road is that of e-commerce. While Amazon and many others have captured the national market, I believe there is still a local shop angle available to news media companies.
Additionally, there are loyalty and membership abilities. Of all the traditional business enterprises, the news media industry has this revenue stream at their fingertips above all others.
Other companies outside the news media industry are successfully tackling these revenue streams along with many others I haven’t even mentioned. And while we may fall a few times along the way, as long as we continually pick ourselves up, we can and will succeed.
It is time for our industry to join the fun and get off the road most traveled by most news media companies, and embark on our own journey on the road less traveled by our fellow news media friends.