“(Putting the customer first) sounds simple, but sometimes in practice, it’s hard to do.”
“We are believers in paid content. We are a paid content model.”
“You have to allow for duplication and chaos.”
“The new world is engineers and editors.”
“You got to go with people who are fast.”
“Anytime you create a product that’s big and beautiful and prominent, you have to get people to see it.”
“Do you want a big audience or a paid audience?”
“If you wait for people to come to you, you all know this, it’s not going to work.”
“That’s the future — much more flexible, much more digitally oriented. That’s where we’re going.”
“You need from the top leadership, then everyone else gets in line.”
“When people make mistakes when it matters, people say, ‘well, it does matter.’”
“We’re trying to engage with every single platform.”
“How do we get out into the social stream and find out where people are going?”
“Millennials live like Millennials.”
“Clearly, you need a different design for a watch than you do for a giant screen.”
“The things we’re most excited about are the things we know the least about.”
“Print is very valuable. It’s very important. It’s the lifeblood.”
“Try lots of small experiments to see what works, then fire the big shots.”
“I think it’s the process that leads to successful innovation.”
Steve Hills has nearly 30 years of experience in media, holding wide-ranging roles from reporter to sales representative to executive. He was named president and general manager of The Washington Post in September 2002, and in February 2008 became president and general manager of Washington Post Media, a world-class, multi-platform news brand that has the highest combined market penetration in print and online of any Top 10 metropolitan newspaper.
Steve Hills, president and general manager of The Washington Post, kicked off the Tuesday session of the INMA World Congress by exploring the new avenues and plans spearheaded by new Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos.
Hills shared the principles The Washington Post follows, including putting the customer first and showing excellence in engineering.
“It means to think like a digital product company,” he said.
Hills identified key trends: experimenting, measuring and analysing, mobile advertising, and video — which, he says, has large, untapped potential: “Huge opportunity. Ad spend is yet to catch up, but it will.”
The use of Big Data aids The Washington Post in design, as the media company works to produce a product that will be displayed across a plethora of different platforms, including large and small displays.
“Clearly you need a different design for a watch than you do for a giant screen,” Hills said.
The Washington Post uses two types of measurement: lag and lead. Lag measurement tells you if you have achieved your goal, while lead measurement tells you if you are likely to achieve your goal.
Within lead measurement are the marks of content quality, technology quality and performance, and customer complaints. These are used to help The Washington Post gauge its product and how it is being received even as the product is engaging consumers on a digital platform — something The Washington Post is working on to create the best experience possible.
“Digital devices tended to be not so great for browsing,” Hills said.
The Washington Post has 271 newspaper partners throughout the United States and the world. This includes a national version of its weekly product, along with partnerships that involve paid subscriptions to other brands, giving those subscribers access to The Washington Post.
Through these partnerships, the news media company continues to step forward and generate a new audience: “If you wait for people to come to you, you all know this, it’s not going to work,” Hills said.
By exploring new avenues and working to generate an audience through partnerships, The Washington Post has seen increases in viewership, including a 34.3% rise in desktop unique viewers and unique views up 66% year-on-year.
“We really feel good about how we did in the marketplace,” Hills said.
Hills quoted Bezos as he summed up how vital innovation and moving forward are to the next moves The Washington Post, which continues its focus on providing the best product and reaching as many people as possible: “Bezos has another phrase, ‘It’s always day one,’” Hills said.