Sunday, May 10, 2009

A soundbite worth mentioning

You know, I keep thinking that I am going to stop writing about newspapers and their fate...and I can't seem to stop myself. Probably, because so much is happening now. Turmoil. Surprise. Hard Times. Questioning the future.

So, the soundbite was from Senator John Kerry last week who had a senate hearing on the newspaper industry. He said that newspapers were an endangered species. You can read more here.

Just a couple of days earlier, Warren Buffett clearly stated that he saw no future in newspapers and would not invest in them. Here's a great write up on this topic from the blog, Everything Warren Buffett. I also read that he said that in spite of being an investor in the Washington Post Company. The paper is losing money and is making up with its TV/cable outfits.
So, now, there is great hue and cry about whether with newspapers being a dying breed, whether journalism is reaching its end too. These are very serious questions that are being asked, including at the Senate Hearing (are we looking at the preview of another industry's bailout? I hope not!). In my opinion, I don't believe that for an instant! My prediction is that journalism will not die as long as democratic and capitalistic societies continue to exist (and thrive again some day, we hope...).

Yes, the business model will need to change. Free newspapers online may not be as ubiquitious and inevitable in the future as they appear to be now. I trust the entrepreneurial, and even corporate world to come up with a new business model that will work for them and the readership....although it may take a few trial and errors before this happens.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The next generation of newspaper readers

Help is on the way! Here is a link to a NY Times article about the next generation of newspaper readers - that would be the Kindle for newspapers. Very interesting!

Newspaper Circulation - a sign of the times

During the past six months, the circulation of newspapers has gone down at a faster pace than ever before. More readers are turning to the web. Why now? Is it the economy? Whatever it is, the trend appears to be very real. The Wall Street Journal appears to be the only exception and shows a slight increase in circulation. Could that be because they are also one of the few that charge for viewing online content?
Where most of these declines were in the 10% range, the New York Post and Atlanta Journal Constitution had the steepest declines of 20%. This is a rough, rough time for newspaper publication. Change is in the winds and many waited to adapt or did not see (or chose not to see) the warning signs. I have seen editorials that predict gloom, doom and despair regarding the end of an important era, and the end of local news as we know it. I am unable to comprehend this. Just because the newspaper fades away, why does it mean that news and news reporting should? Isn't it about a new medium where content still remains king? Whereas the business model is not altogether clear, I feel sure that if there is a demand for local news, then there will be a business model that evolves to support it. Perhaps that also means that online content or rather, high-quality online content won't be free forever. Publishers just need to find that business model that works.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Positioning for the future

Here are some scary numbers from the venerable Boston Globe, beloved newspaper of Bostonites:
  • It is estimated that the newspaper will lose $85 million this year alone
  • Its ad revenue fell 18% last year
  • Since 2004, its ad revenue declined 34%
  • Its weekday readership during the same period fell 28%

A lot of this can be attributed to the economy and probably is. I tend to think this is more of a natural trend that is occuring, and that bad economic times have merely accelerated and dramatized the shift.

Just as this news is important for those in and around the newspaper publishing business, it is also important to those who are in the business of marketing. Things are changing. Rapidly.

We can brace ourselves for the changes yet to come. Or we can embrace the changes. I say, choose the latter. We will not only be positioning ourselves better for the future. We will be ready for the new opportunities that will come our way.

If you thought the above was scary, here is another one for you. Dan Kennedy, Boston media columnist and blogger of Media Nation is also an assistant professor for journalism at Northeastern U and writes for the Guardian. By the way, I got all these Boston related tidbits, ironically enough from an article in the NY Times (online). Mr Kennedy was quoted in the same article regarding a freshman journalism course he taught there. He said - “one of the things that really struck me was these students had basically no experience reading a newspaper of any kind.”

So, if these Boston Globe (and many, many other newspapers) numbers look bad today, can you imagine what they will look like in the future?

Change is inevitable, folks. The question is will it be voluntary, strategic, well-planned and embraced - or will it be forced on you? I am guessing that we all agree on which the preferred alternative is...

Monday, April 13, 2009

Another great book!

I had to write about this book that I devoured over the weekend. It is similar to the last one that I had written about "Predictably Irrational" in that all the premises are backed up by scientific research and results. This one is called Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to be Persuasive. There's lots written about this book. Of course, you can start with Amazon. And, then just google to get the other write-ups. One of the authors is Robert B Cialdini, and there's lots on him online too - as the bestselling author of the book Influence (which I have not read but am quite sure I will).

This is interesting for us in our professional life, as well as our personal life, and talks extensively about small changes in our communication that can yield significantly different (...and positive, if the changes are what they recommend) results.

Since I had just read the book and found it immensely useful, I am writing my thoughts down soon after reading it.

Here's what I liked best about the book:

  • the scientific testing that backs up each of their claims

  • ease of reading the just keep flipping those pages!

  • ease of implementing their persuasion strategies

  • such interesting persuasian strategies! Some seem like common sense and then some seem counter-intuitive.

  • applicability to so many situations (you will understand this when reading the book)

I am sure I will be using this book as a reference often, primarily in how I conduct my business. Right now, I have used one of the strategies discussed in the book and am routing it around to each member of my team. Let's see if it works!


P.S. Here's a real interesting piece of recent information. Time magazine just reported how President Obama used behavioural neuroscience and economics to help him get elected. And, in this article, both Dan Arieli and Robert Cialdini are mentioned and quoted. It's all quite fascinating!

Friday, April 10, 2009

About Marketing and Tapestries

I recently read a wonderful blog post of a local Alabama media marketing and sales person, Lisa Isbell, who has a blog called - How-to Marketing Advice and Tips - A resource for learning how to market your business.

She compares marketing to a tapestry and how it is not about one medium or one message, but when well done, is like a finely woven tapestry. For those interested in marketing, I would highly recommend it - you can read it here.

I have been writing recently on what is happening with the newspaper industry - how its advertising model just is not working anymore. This article takes us into the finer points of what is happening in the overall advertising industry...and touches on all the new ways of marketing, including insights into how social media can be utilized in this new world. I will be writing a lot about this industry transition - or is it transformation? that is occuring.

Lisa's blog post resonates very well in these times, and for me, since my business is all about marketing technology, more specifically targeted marketing technology. As a result, I tend to delve deep into what is going on with digital media and voraciously look for reading material anywhere I can find it. I find a lot of it online and in blog posts.

As marketing budgets get scrutinized, more than ever, in these tough economic times, it is imperative that marketers and business owners figure out how their marketing plans need to evolve. Sure, marketing budgets can be cut, but how is that going to impact your business in an already difficult environment? The idea is to figure out how you still get the kinds of exposure that you need by spending less. It is very possible. And, with all the new media out there that has yet to be fully explored or exploited, I would venture to say you could even work it to get better marketing results with less.

More later.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Print Newspapers - this is getting depressing!

Like an April Fool's joke gone bad, The Chicago Sun Times announced that it filing for bankruptcy on April 1st. This follows the filing of bankruptcy by The Tribune Company (publisher of Chicago Tribune) in December and the Philadelphia company that publishes Inquirer, Daily News and in February. In addition, Ann Arbor News will cease publishing its print newspaper and be available online only in July. And the Detroit News and Detroit Free Press have begun a 3 day a week publishing schedule.

Ad revenue is too low and costs are too high to keep up. Any publishers who are not rethinking their strategies for the future will not be around for too long. As sad as this is - because surely this is the end of an era where people depended on printed newspapers, we need to look ahead at new opportunities in the online world. Or we can hold onto the last bastion of newspapers, much as some writers clung on to their typewriters in a world where computer technology and word processors galloped forward and took over. Once this started, it didn't take long for it to come full circle, and the clinging, undoubtedly, did not last long either.

To see this in a financial perspective, here is a link to an article published in January by the Silicon Alley Insider which states that printing the New York Times costs twice as much as sending each and every NYT subscriber a free kindle! Those are not cheap - today's price on is $359 a pop!

But the economics are just failing to support this industry, and the current economic climate is accelerating the inevitable. We need to look upon this as the passing of a baton from one type of medium to one or more other media. So that we look upon it less like a death and more like a transition.