News Leadership 3.0

June 17, 2009

A new revenue agenda for news organizations

Paul Gillin urges news organizations to re-invent their business model by becoming more service-oriented, seeking more small, local advertising accounts, and changing the game on Craigslist

Paul Gillin provided a hopeful - and challenging - revenue agenda for money-starved news organizations during his KDMC/NewsU Webinar “New Revenue for News Organizations.”

It is hopeful because Gillin believes local news organizations can use their local ties and expertise to serve residents and businesses and get paid for services.

It is challenging because news organizations must first give up the notion that advertising will come back in a big way or that they can charge for non-specialized content that’s available for free.

People who ask how to monetize their Web sites need to change their approach, he said. “Your opportunity really is monetizing your audience, monetizing your brand.”

Here’s a pdf of Paul’s presentation slides. A replay of his presentation, including audio, will be posted at NewsU by the end of the week and I will add the link to this post. UPDATE: Webinar replay ($24.95 at NewsU).

Focus advertising efforts on small, local accounts

The advertising market has become more efficient with the Internet and institutions that relied on inefficient mass advertising are hurting because of that.

“The advertising world will never be the same again,” Gillin said. “The question is not ‘How do we get it back?’ It’s not coming back. The question is how do we change the model?”

News organizations can better serve a $25 billion local advertising market that relies heavily on primitive means such as Yellow Pages advertising, signage and fliers. “Whole classes of business are not now effectively reaching their customers and need help in advertising more efficiently,” Gillin said.

“You’ve got to change your sales model away from large national contracts towards much smaller but more numerous local contracts. I’m not saying this is easy but this is where the opportunity appears to be right now.”

Do more than Craigslist with classifieds

Gillin cited the work of Reinventing Classifieds, saying news organizations cannot beat Craigslist at its game, but it can reinvent classifieds to provide more services than Craigslist.

For example, Craigslist does not enable users to compare offerings side by side or to rate products. It also doesn’t offer customers advice on effective advertising and marketing.

“Craigslist is not the be all and end all of classified advertising. I think there’s a lot Craigslist doesn’t do very well. So you can tap into classified with an eye to Craigslist’s weaknesses.”

Diversify the revenue stream by taking a service approach

Gillin says opportunity also lies in developing relationships with local consumers and businesses and figuring out how to save them time and money.

That might mean helping businesses organize and market events to sell their products, facilitating transactions (such as ticket sales) in exchange for a cut of the transaction, developing databases that save users time and money when they make consumer decisions such as buying a house in the local market.

News organizations also might offer memberships that entitle members special access to events and services.

If consumers are unlikely to pay for comment, they will pay for value-added information, Gillin said. That’s why the Wall Street Journal, Consumer Reports and Cooks Illustrated can charge - they save people significant time, energy and cost to research issues that are important to them.
Consumers will only pay for content with a “high level of perceived value.  You can’t sell subscriptions to a commodity” that is widely available and often free.

June 15, 2009

Social media essentials: Leverage community, tap into conversations, launch pilots

JD Lasica encourages news organizations to look outside themselves to engage and share in new communities, technologies and experimentation

What are three critical ingredients of successful social media projects for traditional news organizations? I’ve asked faculty of Knight Digital Media’s “Using Social Media to Build Audience” class to offer their lists. Here’s JD Lasica‘s list:

1. Leverage the community. “You don’t’ have to reinvent the wheel. There are a lot of resources out there, a lot of community organizations and projects that are built to enhance the conversation,” Lasica says. He encourages news organizations to look at Creative Commons licensing for sharing content, at sharing services including Flickr and at open-source technology that is widely available.

2. Tap into conversations.
“We are in the conversation economy now. Don’t think you have to own all the conversations or drive the conversations….It’s not really about control any more. It’s about engagement.” Lasica says news organizations need to broaden their mission and their range. “Go on other platforms, other forums as a participant. See what they’re talking about. See if there’s something you are doing with your organization that can tap into those conversations and add value to them.”

3. Launch pilots.
“Don’t spend months and months on a project.” Instead, put together mock ups and bring people in to look at them. “This is all about the idea of using your community as a sounding board.”

Hear more of JD’s remarks in this podcast he recorded for the social media class Knight Digital Media Center is offering with News University. And you can read more “social media essentials” from Paul Gillin and Amy Gahran.

June 11, 2009

Social media essentials: Join the networks, be mobile, be human

Amy Gahran offers advice to traditional news organizations as they adopt social media

What are three critical ingredients of successful social media projects for traditional news organizations? I’ve asked faculty of Knight Digital Media’s “Using Social Media to Build Audience” class to offer their lists.

Here’s Amy Gahran:

- Get onto the networks. “Figure out which parts of your community use social media and where they hang out. And go where they are and listen to them,” Gahran says. “You need to become a presence in their community on their terms first.” Follow their lead.

- Make yourself mobile friendly. “Mobile and social media are very deeply intertwined because a lot of lot of people use social media via their cell phones and far more people have cell phones than are at computers.” And don’t forget to enable text messaging and make it easy for people to respond to you by sms. 

- Be human. The authoritative mindset “definitely doesn’t fly in social media,” Gahran says. Instead, it’s important to be transparent, receptive and grateful. “And especially to laugh at yourself. Humor and humility really work in social media.” She cites recommends checking out @coloneltribune on Twitter for an example of humor at work for the Chicago Tribune.

Here’s a full podcast of Amy Gahran’s remarks with more discussion of mobile opportunities. I posted Paul Gillin’s list of essentials here. I’ll have an additional installment from JD Lasica next week.

What’s on your list of critical ingredients for creating communities online? Please share your ideas in the comments.

June 09, 2009

Social media essentials: Inclusion, aggregation, engagement

Paul Gillin sees big opportunities for traditional news organizations to play a critical role in the new media ecosystem

What are three critical ingredients of successful social media projects for traditional news organizations? I’ve asked faculty of Knight Digital Media’s “Using Social Media to Build Audience” class to offer their lists.

Here’s social media marketing expert Paul Gillin:

- Inclusion. News organizations must realize “You’re not the oracle any more. You are part of a community and a critical, central part of a community of information providers that include people form all walks of life,” Gillin says.  “A lot of people have news to publish these days. And your role, increasingly the vital role of news organizations is to assimilate the information they are contributing ...  Nad to realize to… so you need to include a lot of different voices in what you’re doing and reposition your role as being the one who makes sense of it all.”

- Aggregation.“We an’t afford to be too tied to our own original content any more as the be all and end all. There’s lot of good content out here and the value that we can provide to our audience is to point them to the best content. .. We’ve gone from an information desert to an information deluge and the role of media organizations, a very critical one, will be to aggregate lots of options, lots of observations, first hand accounts, analyses, the stories told by people who are players in the news and to form a holistic picture of what happened based upon this very rich and these multiple sources of information.

- Engagement. The key to engagement, Gillin says, is “playing to people’s particular interests. So the special interests that they have in what’s going on in their town, on their block, in their school system, in their local businesses, at the chamber of commerce, in the park system, in their local museums, that’s what gets people really excited, that which touches them at a very personal level.” And today, online groups and other digital tools offer the capacity to gather people of like interests like never before.

What’s on your list of critical ingredients for creating communities online? Please share your ideas in the comments.

Here’s a full podcast of Gillin’s remarks. I’ll have additional installments from JD Lasica and Amy Gahran coming up.

Gillin also will be presenting the third and final installment of the KDMC/NewsU Webinar series on social media and building audience next week. “New Revenue for News Organizations” will air Tuesday, June 16 at 2 p.m. Eastern. Gillin will discuss ways that publisherrs can diversify their revenue sources, including highly localized advertising, information services, demographic editions and alternative delivery mechanisms such as audio, video and mobile devices. You can register here.

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Exploring innovation, transformation and leadership in a new ecosystem of news, by journalist and change advocate Michele McLellan.

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