Five years ago, Marketwatch.com founder Larry Kramer was in his first year working at the CBS TV network. As he sat in on a show screening, he received a breaking RSS news alert on his BlackBerry. In the next 15 minutes, he was able to read about the story in three different places, watch video and share the story with others – all without paying.
Right there, he had an epiphany: something big is happening.
The incident inspired Kramer to write the book C-Scape: Conquer the Forces Changing Business Today. It outlines how business models are changing, and how companies can adapt.
With 40 years of experience in the newspaper business, Kramer has witnessed a world of change in the industry. Monopolies held by news companies, such as classified and display advertisements, died with the rise of search engines, Craigslist and the Internet. Those days are over, he said, and companies should start building new business models now.
“If you wait any longer, you’re screwed,” Kramer said.
He said new business models should be built around the four C’s that are covered in his book: consumer, content, curation and convergence. Consumers lead the discussion, he said, because they make companies relevant. Listening and responding to your customers in real time is essential.
“The consumer is in control of everything now,” Kramer said.
This shift in power was gradual at first, he said, but now is accelerating rapidly. Consumers are in control of when, where, and how they consume the information they seek, and companies must stay current with the trends.
“You can’t just check in on these changes,” Kramer said. “You have to watch them continually.”
Content ranks next in importance, Kramer said. In fact, “content is king,” he said, especially if you expect consumers to pay. The audience should be educated about what a company provides and feel confident that they will get what they pay for.
“If you can convince them that they’ll get more from you than someone else, you’ll become a valuable source for them,” Kramer said. “In the end, everything is content, and you need to focus on being the best.”
Kramer said that in the future, newsrooms will be built around what you’re covering, and it will be necessary to control delivery of content to all possible outlets. This is where curation and convergence come in.
Curation, a new buzzword used around the industry, refers to the process of helping the audience sift through the information overload and decide what is relevant and worth their time. Consumers are getting confused amongst the clutter, and Kramer said it is up to journalists to point out where the value lies.
“It is a new art form we all have to learn and practice,” he said.
The convergence of media across various platforms allows businesses to create unique, quality content that separates them from this clutter. Every story can use words, pictures, audio and interactivity to deliver content all in one place that is easy for today’s on-the-go society.
“We’re in a Gutenberg moment,” Kramer said. “We have the golden opportunity to combine all of our storytelling techniques into one, and we need to know when to use each of those things.”
The implementation of the four C's requires an entrepreneurial spirit, Kramer said. During the Q&A session, one delegate said that companies may not like change, but they like irrelevance less. Kramer replied by encouraging World Congress attendees to take chances and prepare for failures, because that’s the route to success.
“I think the good news is there is a future for news,” he said, “but we have to start moving quickly to do things the way people want it.”