Launch something new every 30 days

NASA Shuttle Launch Photos

The need for culture change in newsrooms is well documented, including most recently from Doug Fisher citing Earl Wilkinson.

I won’t recite past specifics on why or how it can be achieved. Ultimately, it’s a personal decision where each individual must decide to change.

Here’s an idea I floated a couple of weeks ago to a team at work. I want to launch something new every 30 days. I’ve never done that before. The items in bold listed below seem like good places to focus.

Culture change in the news industry involves a collection of practices that break from the past, some obvious and some not-so-obvious — yet all not generally practiced in our industry even today:

  • Listen to the market.
  • Prioritise expenditures to your USPs.
  • Outsource, link or cut what isn’t your USP.
  • More sales feet on the street.
  • Invest in research.
  • Digital first.
  • Focus relentlessly on your differentiators.
  • Sell market solutions, not space.
  • Dialogue, not monologue.
  • Embrace the crowd.
  • Be willing to fail, but fail fast.
  • Go on the offense for readers and advertisers.
  • Speed over perfection.
  • You can’t be all things to all people.
  • Respect the platform for its unique value.
  • Go where the growth is.
  • Be relevant.
  • Place many small bets.
  • Low-cost innovation.

The last thing I was apart of that went out to the market launched June 13. I guess I better get going.

Why INMA will keep talking about culture change at newspapers

A mobile content strategy in action

Mobile is all about living in the moment, what’s hot and relevant right now in regards to time, place and information. Ever increasingly it is also about context such as personalized search and social engagement.

I’m doing some research today while working on a project request for a new mobile app (mentioned in this post) I’m pitching and came across this example of a mobile content strategy implemented by a hotel:

One major difference is telling multiple stories (web) vs. telling a single, focused story at a given moment (mobile). To make this happen, along with the functionality, the editorial structure had to change significantly. For example, for the mobile site, content that encouraged booking was prioritized, and the language became less marketing, more instructional. – Three things about mobile content

Do you have an example of a mobile content strategy that you’ve implemented?

Every business and brand is a publisher and vice versa

I find the new media discussion on personal branding and whether its ruining journalism to be one big waste of time. But it has been entertaining.

That shift actually occurred about three to four years ago when, in my view, skills like community management, content strategy and content marketing became more well known and part of normal business practices. It’s time to move on.

The one glaring problem that maybe the example between Steve Buttry and Gene Weingarten proves is this: Traditionally, media companies and journalists haven’t viewed content as a business asset, while other industries outside of publishing have embraced it.

Journalism has an ethic of “objectivity” that pushes us to pretend we are objects, not people. And you can’t develop a personal brand without being a person and being seen as one. – Buttry

The truth is every business, person, brand or journalist with a blog, Twitter account or Facebook fan page is a brand and a publisher. So is the guy sitting in his mother’s basement uploading videos on YouTube.

Of course, the problem with the whole argument here is that Weingarten is a brand, and he kind of knows it. He even says as much in his own way.

When I was a hungry young reporter in the 1970s, I thought of myself as a superman, an invincible crusader for truth and justice — even though, looking back at old pictures, I now see that I resembled an emaciated weasel in unattractive clothing. My goals, however, were unambiguous, and heroic: 1) Get great stories that improve the world. 2) Get famous. 3) Get doe-eyed young women to lean in close and whisper, “Take me.” – Weingarten

Two must-read content strategy links

Came across two posts Sunday night that really define and provide clear tasks for any content strategist out there.

Corey Vilhauer provides a detailed methodology to content strategy that is the most comprehensive list of tasks and approaches I’ve seen to date.

We all want a methodology – a guide to doing what we are going to do. We want it for us. We want it for our clients. We want to take the amorphous blob that is content strategy and define WHAT THAT MEANS on a task-related level. – Building a Content Strategy Methodology in Several Thousand Easy Steps

The second comes from Ahava Leibtag who lays out how following the money is one step a content strategist cannot ignore.

Our job, more than any other, is to understand our clients’ business model, so we can apply what we know about how the numbers at the bottom grow fat and green to the planning and publishing of content. – The 3 Unbreakable Rules of Content Strategy

Redefining the rules of business

It seems most business see this as a risk, but the rewards are often well worth it for those that take this right approach. One example is Netflix. Who else does business like this? Like the link references, make sure to check out slides 40 and 41.

“When you design the business around the experience, (instead of the experience around the business) you create a more powerful and relatable offer.” – Colin Raney

Business Model: Create a Platform for an Experience

Some of the projects I’m currently engaged with

A quick rundown of some of the projects I am involved with inside and outside of regular work. If any of these spark your interest, check them out and give me some feedback. Would love to hear your thoughts.

IowaCaucus.com

I work at a media company in Iowa and politics is one of the things outside of work that I follow most closely. We’ve launched a niche site, IowaCaucus.com, without many resources to keep people engaged. It’s a start. We have one internal content resource and two people contributing regularly to compliment curation efforts and wire content.Our SEO efforts need to improve, and we have plans for a couple of features that would help engage with the audience.

Hoopla Music

I’ve been involved with the Hoopla Music project from the start. I enjoy the live music scene in Eastern Iowa, and it’s better than you might think. This site is easy to navigate as include the most comprehensive list of live music shows in the area. From the start, we committed a live person to contact bands and local venues to create the data. It launched about two weeks ago and so far the traffic is low but the audience has had nothing but good things to say.

BarcampICR

I’m no stranger to the barcamp experience and when I heard a group of local people in the Cedar Rapids and Iowa City area were starting the process to organize one I wanted to help in some way. I am currently working on the content of the site. It’s live and we formally hope to launch late next week. The goal of the barcamp is to get the creative and innovate minds together in the area and start a dialogue and  do some things that help better the community.

Other ideas I’m working on:

The essential mobile app for Univ. of Iowa college students – The name sounds pretty lofty but all the mobile apps out there seem to cater to the classroom experience. We are working on focus groups to learn exactly what could make the experience of living in the Iowa City area better. So far, the hypothesis centers around these topics: study, drink, recreation, style. We should learn much from the focus groups.

Proactive approach to community contributors - Our company has done well in recruiting and receiving photos, videos and news tips from people who are willing to help us cover the news. But we have no internal mechanism to easily contact them when breaking news or weather events occur. These contributors could also be good sources for community news and events we don’t know about. I’m working with a small group to define the requirements of building a service to group contributors into affinity groups with a trigger to email, text or phone them when it is most relevant.

Mobile strategy – As the web continues to shrink and the need for local media to be more liquid, how a media company plays in the mobile space will be essential to our survival. Not to mention how we make money on mobile platforms.

Product differentiation via storytelling – We have newspaper and broadcast television packages that look and feel very similar on web and mobile platforms. No on is really training or educating well on storytelling on digital platforms. I’m working with a few others to define the training and tools necessary to transition our teams to work that into the everyday workflow.

What projects are you currently working on?