Reports

How Product Is Leading Media's New Growth Path

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Product is the youngest department at news media companies but also one of the fastest growing. This report looks at what product is, how it has changed organisational structures, and what role it will play in the success of the news media industry of the future.

The report features insights and observations from INMA Product Initiate Lead Jodie Hopperton along with case studies from The New York Times, Ringier Axel Springer, Singapore Press Holdings, Asana, The Financial Times, and Yahoo News.

Who should read the report

Product managers, strategists, marketeers, data analysts, revenue specialists, editors, CEOs

Author

Jodie Hopperton has worked with technology startups in a variety of roles over the past 15 years. As head of the INMA Product Initiative, she investigates the evolving discipline of product and how news media companies can use it to delight customers and grow their business.

Detailed overview

This report focuses on how product is rapidly changing news media companies. Since launching its Product Initiative in January, INMA has examined the ways product is disrupting and restructuring organisations while trying to answer one fundamental question: What do news organisations need to do to create, deliver, and innovate the best possible products for their audience?

“Product will continue to play a vital role in the success of the news media industry of the future,” INMA Product Initiative Lead Jodie Hopperton says. “Product directly touches many parts of an organisation but mainly works across editorial, technology, design and user experience, data, marketing, and revenue.”

Using case studies, Hopperton illustrates how product is transforming traditional structures and operations of news media companies. She talked to product leads at The New York Times, Ringier Axel Springer, Singapore Press Holdings, The Financial Times, and Yahoo News, as well as gaining insight from Asana, the team project management platform, on what they are doing to find success as well as how to create organisational strategies for product.

Among the report’s takeaways:

  • Product people have diverse job titles and product teams may sit in a variety of departments within a news organisation; they may be in technology, digital, editorial, marketing, or report directly to the CEO or publisher.
  • Regardless of the organisational structure, all departments contribute to product and much of the product team’s success hinges on culture and communication.
  • News media leaders believe that product is important, but fewer than half of them feel that they have a good understanding about the role of product.
  • A data-driven approach is essential to validate decisions made about product.
  • Introducing product thinking is not a simple tweak or restructuring; it is an organisational change that requires buy-in across the board.
  • It is critical for product to have a voice in the c-suite, and CEOs must provide clear organisation goals to ensure that all departments are pulling in the same direction.

As a multi-disciplinary endeavour, product requires clear communication and specific goal-setting. Companies must have a shared understanding of goals and desired outcomes; most news businesses will have overall objectives represented as a single North Star metric or defined as OKRs (objectives and key results).

“Product is the connective tissue between engineering, editorial, business development, finance, sales, and marketing,” says Lippe Oosterhof, head of product, Yahoo News Lifestyle and Entertainment. “So it is essential to understand how the various stakeholders think and operate.”

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