Although the COVID-19-pandemic has brought on crushing pressures to publishers’ traditional revenue models, it has nevertheless also ushered in an unprecedented increase in demand for quality journalism online. How can news publishers digitally transform their organisations to capitalise on these online revenue opportunities?
Here are ideas for news publications making the shift from a traditional to digital-oriented business model:
Digital change before reaping digital revenue rewards. Holistic, company-wide digital change in culture and operations must be implemented before digital revenue ambitions (both advertising and subscriptions) can be actualised. In other words, breaking down silos between editorial, commercial and technological functions to realise common digital transformation objectives is crucial.
Holistic change must be driven from the top. Senior management must provide a transformation roadmap with clearly communicated “North Star” goals; incentivise good “change ideas” and allow them to bubble up from anywhere in their organisations; and remain steadfast in the face of challenges.
Promote your distinctive value. A publication’s distinctive value must be the cornerstone of any news publisher’s attempt at digital transformation. And publishers must aggressively promote to their audiences how their publication’s unique value satisfies their needs.
Think mobile. As readership and advertising revenues from print newspapers and desktop computers continue to decline and/or stagnate, publishers need to consider ways to reach and grow their readers via mobile devices. This may include producing specific types of content and products or adapting the style and voice of the publication for mobile consumers.
Use data to understand audiences deeply and be customer-centric. Publishers should leverage granular digital audience data to understand and build deep relationships with readers, especially their most valuable ones. Publishers should also communicate directly with their audiences, such as through email newsletters, and develop processes and products with audiences in mind.
Audits to cut resource-wasting habits. Regularly performing digital content audits can help publishers more effectively understand the types of articles that their audiences are most interested in and channel their resources to cover those topics. In essence, this would garner higher returns on their investments and eliminate practices that inhibit growth in digital readership and subscription revenue.
It is importance of learning how to use granular data to, one, build a deeper relationship with the readers and to develop editorial products and services to meet the readers’ demands. The audience data from the analysis is triangulated against other sets of data from the publication’s website and social media and ecommerce platforms.
The benefit of this exercise can discovered what readers are interested vs. the imaginary thought.
Developing digital competencies and demolishing silos
Building up digital competences and breaking down silos within the newsroom were the important lessons, the publication’s editorial, technology and art teams not only had to work closely together, but the art team, which traditionally worked on newspapers, had to learn coding.