developing new media solutions
+Kristina Ackerman and +Deena Higgs Nenad authored an article in the March 2011 edition of Editor and Publisher that described what 10 newspapers that “got it right” were doing to improve their franchise. These were excellent examples of what newspapers can do to connect with their communities and improve the sustainability of the business.
The Seattle Times partnered with established bloggers and provided consumers with a blog vetting process and a means of building a web based news interaction with the community.
The Detroit and Seattle newspapers and others that have made significant progress are finding ways to create a symbiosis between the established and new medias.
In truth every media in the marketplace, old and new, is working hard to assure its success by providing new products and new approaches. A major challenge is finding a way to focus these efforts to improve the success of each effort and the overall success of the organization.
Providing Focus for Development Efforts
Harvard’s Clayton Christensen has said that understanding what job a product is hired to do can help develop successful marketing strategies1. To better understand how established media can transition to being leaders in the new media environment, a closer look needs to be taken into the jobs the media is being asked to perform.
Consider the jobs that media is being asked to perform and how they relate to a consumers needs:
1. Vet news stories – save time and provide confidence,
2. Prioritize news and information – save time,
3. Categorize news and information – save time,
4. Provide insights into different lifestyles – social acceptance,
5. Provides a means of interaction on various topics, social interaction,
6. Provides a means of connecting with people with similar interests – group acceptance,
7. Provide information on products that will improve lifestyles – self improvement,
8. Provide entertainment and information on types of entertainment – leisure activity needs,
9. Provide information that improves security – safety needs,
10. Provide the ability to improve one’s self esteem – need for status,
11. Provide information on wide areas of interest – self-improvement,
12. Create communities that have similar interests and aspirations – need to be part of a community,
13. Merchandise advertising – physical and status and entertainment needs,
14. Housing information – need for safety and security.
This is a partial list that gives some insight into developing a business strategy that can incorporate functions of the new media with the more fully developed models of the established media.
The more successful solutions will provide an integrated platform that supports new and old media and presents them in a way that will be viewed in a positive way by potential users.
Understanding that one job of the media is to vet information could lead to working with bloggers to post their opinions on certain stories on the media website as the Seattle Times has done.
Another opportunity might be to create community. Using demographic information to find groups large enough to be attractive to advertisers might provide the basis for a social networking site. For example in San Francisco there is a large Chinese community. This could be the basis for a social network that is tied to news and entertainment discussions. Building this community could rely on the Internet, print and broadcast products. The Saint Louis Post –Dispatch did this with Cardinal Baseball fans.
Still another program might be developed to improve the status of audience members by including certain audience members in groups that comment on their areas of expertise or include them in special programming. The Marysville, California Appeal-Democrat is doing this with political forums.
Additionally, there might be a program that helped the audience gather information on various advertised products by creating a panel of experts on various merchandise categories that would be accessible to consumers through a website or email programs.
The point is that there is a shift in the media business and those that capitalize on this shift will be the ones that fully understand the jobs they are being asked to perform. Internet search engines, blogs and social networks do not represent threats to the media but rather, improve media’s ability to perform tasks they are asked to do. Thinking about jobs to be done provides a more disciplined approach to developing products to do the jobs. Efforts without such a construct may yield products that fall into the “fad” category or programs that never get introduced.
1 See Clayton Christensen, Michael Raynor, “The Innovator’s Solution” (HBS Press, 2003) pp. 75-78
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