Gilbert offers six tips to growing like the Deseret News


If you want to argue against the law of gravity, Deseret News Publishing Company President and CEO Clark Gilbert made it clear Monday he won’t stop you from walking off a cliff.

But don’t expect him or his newspaper — one of the fasting growing in the United States — to follow you.

The same goes if publishers want to flout some of the new laws of today’s media space, he told the INMA World Congress in Los Angeles. Ignore them at your own peril. Just don’t say Gilbert didn’t warn you.

So, in his same direct style, here are the six ideas he says are changing the media industry:

Two big content ideas:

  • Differentiate your content: Invest where you can be “the best in the world.”

  • Be digital only, not just digital first.

Two big sales ideas:

  • Digital buyers require digital sellers.

  • Long-tail requires a completely new sales channel.

Two big e-commerce ideas:

  • Optimise your revenue mix.

  • Hire digital DNA.

In the area of content, the Deseret News has identified a set of issues — such as strengthening family, faith in the community, financial responsibility, and care for the poor — that the newspaper goes all in to cover. 

“Our goal is not to be the best in our market, but the best in the world at these topics,” Gilbert said. Stories such how one-third of children now grow up without a father, a major demographic shift, are “big issues barely being talked about,” he explained. 

As for the digital emphasis, that’s just putting things in proper order of magnitude and audience, he said. There is also the fact that many of the approaches the newspaper is taking simply can’t be done anywhere but the Web — things such as remote contributors (Deseret Connect), user-generated recommendations and content (, Web aggregation (Linkoffs), as well as photo galleries, lists, and interactive database content.

“The top 100 newspaper sites are more Web-only and have a higher marketing share,” he noted.  

As for sales, digital buyers want to buy from digital sellers: “They don’t want to buy from people who don’t get their business.” And selling across platforms to maximise the revenue stream requires sellers who not only are digitally minded but who also don’t work or think in individual channels.

While there is still solid income in print products, Gilbert acknowledged, looking at the charts and trends should have publishers already in motion, shifting their revenue mix to be in the right position as the balance continues to shift. Part of that involves staffing your company with people who are not digital converts but digital natives, with digital in their bones. Hence the reference to DNA.

“If you look at all digital revenue in the market, digital media companies are really small,” he said. “People are so important to executing this right.” 

Because of these approaches, Gilbert said, the Deseret News’ national Sunday edition is found throughout much of the United States, especially in the eastern United States. Gilbert credited the newspaper’s popularity to readers who are mainly part of faith- and family-oriented audiences looking for media that fit their views.

“They’re begging for traditional media and just aren’t finding it,” Gilbert said.

Except, perhaps, in the Deseret News.

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