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After three days with industry leaders, and sharp outside perspectives, I am more encouraged about our direction, and our ability to make progress quickly.

I started writing this blog two years ago after my first presentation at an NAA MediaXChange.

At that time, I was very concerned about our industry’s approach to the fundamental changes in the creation and distribution of local information.

Rishad Tobaccowala kicked the meetings of with a quietly delivered exhortation to fully embrace the new mindset and business models, while continuing to deliver on the old — kind of a planned schizophrenia.  A couple of quotes from his great presentation:

I believe the very idea of what is “news” needs to be rethought. Last night when following his talk on twitter I thought it was news. No journalists. No editors. No “content” company. It was news to me because it was what I believed was news in my context (today’s speech) and it was delivered to me just when I needed it and the form I wanted.

This is still an industry that is huge with over 40 billion of revenue. But it is one that is half the size of what it was three years ago. Yes, this year it will decline 4% versus last years 27%!But being less pathetic than last year is not exactly something to feel good about.

We are living in a time of STD and there is no contraceptive but only a vaccine. A time of Seminal, Transformative and Disruptive change. We must infect our own organizations and minds with seminal, transformative and disruptive thinking to thrive.

…forces us to rethink our own business and in doing so we have some collateral thoughts for yours.

Facilitation: First I would ask in an age where people are marketing to themselves and learning by themselves or other people they connect with how do we facilitate this behavior?

Voices and Users: Second, in a world where not just users of a product and service but also voices (advocates and detractors) are instrumental to decisions how do we combine, curate and make convenient all this information?

Re-aggregation: Third, as marketers, advertisers, retailers struggle with fragmentation how do we re-aggregate groups large enough to affordably market to or scaled enough to impact business? Google is an amazing re-aggregation engine in that via search and to a lesser extent Adsense it combines people who share intent one at a time into large groups.

I believe with the right mindset and right technology and right people your business can do very well in the future because of something that we see and what Eric Schmidt said.


All things analog are becoming digital (such as television)
All things digital are becoming mobile (i-phone, i-pad…)
Most things mobile are becoming deeply linked to analog (local and retail space).

I would redefine the future of your business not as “news” or “newspaper” or “content” but rather as a leader and key partner in facilitating and re-aggregating community information, history and voices for civic, retail and commercial purposes

Local is where it is at. Community will matter. Your legacy industry has some very strong assets such as sales folks, writers, and relationships with retailers as well as other voices in the community. You also have a trusted brand name that allows you to either be a leader or significant partner in what will be a huge future business.

People need a well-curated, combined and convenient resource as they meander their communities. Retailers need help in promoting and spreading the word about themselves. Marketers need to find folks in large numbers as “intent” based marketing is supplemented by “location” based marketing.

He then closes with 10 steps for improvement, so his entire notes are well worth the read.

Ian Schafer, CEO of Deep focus, built on Rishad’s opening keynote, by noting that our role is as conversation starter, and that we should be using the local networks of information, mostly social networks, to:

  1. Get real time intelligence – discover what your communities care about now
  2. Promote real time conversations – make it easy to share and comment on information
  3. Focus on Location using mobile applications – this is going to explode as Facebook adds location based services
  4. Redefine “ad” to “add value” – people pay much more attention to information referred by their friends

Ian’s blog is worth a view, and he has made his presentation available on Slideshare.

I tried to build on Rishad’s and Ian’s comments, by presenting what we are doing to change our company to play in this world, in a panel with Greg Veis of the New Repubic and Lincoln Millstein of Hearst. Greg got us off to a good start by showing what his company his doing to show related content and share content.  Lincoln then quietly showed a concept video of where Hearst is going with their content strategy.  The Hearst video so engaged the audience that I had to almost forceably bring them back to pay some attention to my presentation!  Words cannot do justice to the Hearst video, but I can say that Hearst is clearly trying to “start conversations” in their communities and make it easy for everyone to engage. I am hoping that both of them share their presentations.

I then presented the following slides, which summarize much of what I have written here about our direction and our key tasks, with a focus on the content repository, as the session was on managing content:

On the plane to the next meeting, I drew out the flow of information as I envision it for us to achieve our C3 mission to be the Complete Community Connection:

What do you think?

One thought on “NAAMXC10”

  1. This was the first NAA I attended and I will admit to not having high expectations based on what I’d heard and read in my first 11 months on the job about the past couple of NAA meetings.

    I came away not only encouraged, but energized about the fact the industry appears to have stopped feeling sorry for itself and is now focused on how to move forward. This sentiment was shared by other attendees, and more importantly in my world – the national advertisers who also were there.

    Chuck recaps some of the highlights of the presentations (which for the most part were excellent) but the most interesting conversations happened away from microphones. I had two different national advertisers say point blank – “You have to monetize your newsroom.” They indicated that the days of “random-ness” of ad placement were at the end and they expected to see RESULTS and not just circ numbers to validate what we do for them. They believe this can be done without touching the integrity of the content, and so do I.

    The other interesting bit of information was shared via panel discussion with other media entities. TV, outdoor, radio and emerging technology were represented. They essentially shared that they either acknowledged that their business was about to be changed as dramatically as print (TV) or had already had their moment of terror (outdoor/billboard) and had adapted and were now thriving because of it.

    It all points to the fact that:

    a) Our company is on the right path, even if we are not yet close to the destination.

    b) There is no destination. Things will continue to change so quickly that we are going to be forever in a state of re-invention and constant adjustment.

    Sounds good to me.

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