Northwestern University’s Media Management Center commissioned a study from innovation expert, Annette Moser-Wellman, to assist news organizations with adapting to the rapid fire changes taking place in their industry.
Six Competencies of the Next Generation News Organization (pdf file) looks at emerging technologies like androids, sensors, interactive TV, WiMax, the Semantic Web and more. Then Moser-Wellman frames her argument by defining six competencies for modern day news organizations to embrace.
She calls one of the six areas of competency “The Marketer.”
To be players in this open environment, news organizations need to think like marketers – that is, they need to define their brands and work to develop deep consumer engagement with them. The essential first step in the process for marketers is to identify what differentiates them in the marketplace: What unique value and role do they provide? What sets them apart from other players? Once organizations identify this unique value, they can dig deep to define the intrinsic benefits they offer to readers and viewers that serve to create a meaningful experience. News organizations that create strong audience engagement will survive.
One can easily build on that by saying “brands that create strong audience engagement will survive.” And survival is good. Thus, it is to engagement we turn.
In order for people to truly engage there must be a steady stream of content sufficient to hold their attention. I believe news organizations can deliver this content without too much struggle. I’m not saying they routinely do so, I’m saying engagement around high quality content is not a foreign subject to journalists, as it is to many marketers who have simply never gone there.
The next step in the engagement process is perfecting the means. Content providers must open their once precious media entities to readers/customers, and then staff their digital arms 24-7 with brand voices, ready to guide or monitor discussions, as needed. Instead of laying off journalists, media companies could be making community managers out of these skilled professionals.
I also think brands would do well to employ community managers. In the brand world, these managers could play a central role in offering front line customer service, one-to-one PR, WOM, brand advocacy, etc. It all adds up to a better brand experience and bottom line, that’s what every brand has to consistently deliver.