Yesterday, I had the pleasure of speaking at American Business Media’s Annual Conference and during a fast-paced, hour-long luncheon session I promised to deliver ten things that I would start doing today if I was an executive at a publishing company. So, as promised, here’s what I’d start doing today.
Elevate your journalists
For far too long, publishers have focused their time, energy and money in everything from events and virtual events to online webinars and podcasts. Today, it’s time to reinvest in your journalists. Here are four things you should start doing, today!
- Sit down with your most popular journalist and commit to building and investing in their brand value. Do they want to publish a book? You should underwrite it. Do they want to speak at conferences? You should sponsor and send them. Do they want to have a show on television? Start helping them create frequent, relevant video content online. Your brand is only as valuable as their brand. Build it.
- Take some time to meet and understand your hungriest journalist. Ask around, everyone knows who they are. They’re the ones with the craziest ideas, the biggest dreams and the optimistic view of the marketplace. Invite that journalist to cover something new. Let them try it on their own blog. If they don’t have their own blog, build it for them. Invest in their ideas with your resources and time and make sure they understand that you’re interested in building their platform.
- Set up a monthly meeting with your editor-in-chief and charge them with building a farm team of content creators. That’s right, you need to mandate that your editor find niche-experts and content creators that almost no one knows. Your editor needs to reach out, embrace and encourage everyone of these authors. These are tomorrows content creators. Tomorrows journalists and they need your help.
- Make your internal resources – all of them – available to help elevate these journalists. Do they want to do a monthly webinar? Make it happen. Do they want to start a new column or a side-project blog? Do it. You have unbelievable internal resources put them to work for your most powerful people in the marketplace.
Reinvent your sales force
You’ve got to start focusing your sales team on selling something new. Advertising revenue isn’t going to cut it long term. Your sales team is constantly touting all the value-added services or products you’re offering and they’re struggling to increase the size of their slice of the pie. You need to start changing the way your sales team is working today. Here are three things I’d start with immediately:
- Take some time to really understand the opportunities your best sales person sees in the marketplace. Challenge them to look for new opportunities. Most importantly, ask them to generate a list of the top one hundred things they’ve heard should be covered in your publication. They may not know these at first, but as they look for these in the marketplace, they’ll become more and more apparent. Every magazine sales person has sat down with a potential advertiser who’s said, “I’d love to advertise in your magazine, but you’re not talking about __________.” This is a cry for a content relationship. Work with your sales person to figure it out.
- With your list of 100 topics, set up a meeting with your editor and ask him why they are not covered? Listen carefully to her answers and challenge her to figure out how to make it happen.
- Now, take out your worst sales person to lunch. Tell them to stop selling any and all valued services. They’re denigrating your primary products’ ability to generate revenue by selling value-added services that cannibalize other revenue streams while the increase your costs.
Take stock and differentiate your media
Your consumers are your biggest asset. Stop selling their information (in the form of mailing lists) and start assessing how you’re adding value to their experience through the generation of valuable content on a variety of media. Here are three things you should do today:
- Go to your website and look at the last one hundred articles you published. Are they over 650 words each? If the vast majority of your content is over 650 words, fix it. Do you force consumers to read articles over more than one page long so you can increase your advertising opportunities? Stop it. You’re annoying your readers and denigrating the value of your content online. Start changing the way you create and distribute content online.
- Take stock of all the mediums you generate content on. Are you replicating the exact same content on multiple mediums? Start thinking about Media Modality. What kind of content adds value to this or that medium. Stop duplicating your content and strategically generating the right kind of content for the right kinds of platforms.
- Talk to your consumers. Don’t send out a survey. Call them. Meet with them. Ask your customers what kind of topics they wished you covered. Create a list of these topics and ask your editors why they’re not being served. I guarantee there will be overlap between what your customers want to see you coverage, what the sales people hear your advertisers want covered and what your journalists want to see covered. Here’s the opportunity. Embrace it!
Change is hard
This isn’t going to be easy, but you need to start changing the focus of your business to rely heavily on the branded journalists you’re investing in. You need to change what the sales force is selling and you need to provide value to your consumers on every platform you participate on. Start small and encourage new thinking and you’ll be leading the market with new ideas, new revenues and new profits.
P.S. This article is way too long (see Take stock and differentiate your media.) I wish I had a print publication I could publish this in.
For more information about the American Business Media event and links to the presentation, please read: Andrew Davis Speaking at ABM’s Annual Conference.