Speed of Change is Everything for Newspapers

Don’t wait for proof, or it might be too late. In this fast evolving digital technology world that disrupts many media business models, the speed of change is the secret to its short-term and long-term success! While today’s media companies still excel at journalism, they don’t have the time or the infrastructure at their disposal to slowly build out an online presence as they have mastered with print and broadcast. Waiting for a proven success often results in lagging progress, but more importantly, yesterday’s success doesn’t necessarily map to tomorrow’s rules. There’s an imperative need to take actions and collaborate with forward-thinking media partners and technology partners to get a broader view of the evolution necessary to make changes. It’s the continuous change, big or small steps, that delivers different outcomes. These outcomes are lessons and experiments to construct a more visible path to an evolved business model.

As Jack Welch has said, “If the rate of change on the outside exceeds the rate of change on the inside, the end is near.” The needs of contemporary consumers have changed, presenting huge challenges to local media organizations. New technologies themselves are not the problem. The underlying issue is how evolving technologies modify consumer behaviors. In just a few years, consumers have changed how they communicate, shop, complete business transactions, and make other important decisions. Local media companies have been hard-pressed to keep pace with the continuous introduction of new technologies. In this situation, the focus should be to partner with innovative technology companies while keeping focus on the core assets and build creative and flexible programs around content, advertisements and audience. Audience follows great content, and money follows audience!

Newspapers and broadcast stations are pressuring marketing department to reinvent their brand as a media company. The urgency is driven by the shrinking of the audience. Media company brands will quickly become irrelevant to the modern consumers if their content doesn’t reach their audience and their brand doesn’t offer enough value for the new consumers. Marketers will waste precious time and possibly miss the window of the digital transition to enjoy an optimal level of community engagement. Companies must get on the fast track and experiment different ways of driving traffic to their local web presence across platforms. Explore all social media networks to build and keep the audience local to their brand. Keep in mind that engagement with the local audience and keeping the conversations relevant to local are the most important attributes to a sustainable business model. This kind of relationship serves as a protection shield from the fast-changing pace of technology at all time.

In this uphill battle, know that there is no silver bullet, and there are only moving parts. Technology partners and local media ecosystems are best to address the fundamentals of monetizing the local media web presence and the opportunities with unprecedented online marketing programs across all platforms. Let the news and ad teams collaborate with a clear understanding that new programs may fail but make it fast and recover even faster from failures. This is about a cultural shift that must take place to compete in today’s market, which is heavily driven by impatient and demanding consumers. These consumers defines the new audience.

Match the internal speed of change to the consumers, even if that means squelching the advice of your internal staff. Every local media organization must evolve and produce mobile and web content relevant to local consumers, or the company will no longer be relevant itself. It’s time that newspapers collaborate as an industry and take steps to partner with advertiser networks and technology partners to generate new revenue beyond selling their own ad space. Speed of execution is the key to achieving a sustainable strong local brand, a local powerful social network and a fully-monetized online strategy across all platforms.  As newspapers reinvent themselves, there’s no proof of success but only incremental steps to successful results.