Let me don my consulting hat today –
My bet is that most of you “consume” news and information via literally dozens of channels.
These and possibly even more?
- You (or a significant other) click on a network broadcast while dressing in the morning or as “background” during dinner preparation each evening.
- If you commute to work you might listen to podcasts or flip through “your” local newspaper while on the train.
- Maybe you read the news from your hometown (or somewhere you are traveling to) on your ipad before going to bed at night?
- For niche content, you’ve opted-in to several email/text alerts. These might be sports, weather, financial, politics or travel related.
- Perhaps you say to Alexa, “…to hell with news,” and ask for music! Or, watch a movie?
- I mustn’t forget social media – you accept the word of a friend on FB as gospel or follow President Trump’s Twitter feed and that’s your “news of the day”?
- Finally, to a great degree, you rely upon friends and colleagues to share news and information and I bet you believe most of what you hear.
Everyone will be different, but I know you’ll agree that we have more than enough news and information options. The word “fragmentation” comes to mind, right?
Something else I’ll wager – that you RARELY (approaching never) go to every channel for the same story.
I get the best coverage of my Dallas Cowboys from the Dallas Morning News, not the New York Times. However, if I’m trying to understand Brexit or the implications of the U.S. pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement, it will be the New York Times I’ll count on.
There is no one-size-fits-all model that’s working anywhere I can think of, can you? That’s ok!
What’s decidedly NOT OK is for local media to think they must still play that game. Regrettably, most continue to do so!
Please consider this heartfelt counsel leveraging my 10 years at Belden Associates and 35 years of devotion to news”paper”media. Take these actions - you will not be sorry!
#1. You publish LOCAL media. Be local. Focus on the things, events, politicians, destinations, referendums, Life Tributes, personalities and everything else that is truly LOCAL!!
That’s all you have – it’s your only unique asset - if you do not double down on local, we are well and truly hosed.
If you must carry international, national or even most statewide news and information explain what those events or issues mean to users. How does it impact my hometown? What does it mean LOCALLY? Why should someone here care?
For example, there’s been a great deal of coverage about the pissing match between President Trump and the State of California regarding auto emissions. Certainly an important story. IF my hometown San Luis Obispo Tribune is going to publish anything, what I really want to know is what that battle means to me? Could it impact MY taxes, MY schools, LOCAL elections, how much a vehicle costs or my auto insurance, whatever?
#2. Related and Rarely (if ever) done – since no publication I’m familiar with is heeding recommendation #1 (BTW, I am NOT the only one carrying this torch!), then the very least you should do is label truly local content as truly local! “Made Here” or “Only Available from the Tribune” or whatever phrase works for you.
Maybe it’s a separate page (I’ve seen this option and it can work) or even an atypical color newsprint like the light pink entertainment section of the San Francisco Chronicle, but for Pete’s Sake let’s do more than simply including an email address/by-line to prove to the world what we do and what we publish CANNOT be duplicated. It is and must be unique! And, we must highlight that fact!
I’ve cited one of my all-time favorite Tom Peters’ quotes before, yet it warrants repeating: DISTINCT OR DIE!
In an industry eliminating publication days, raising prices and reducing reporting resources, we absolutely, positively MUST focus on, publish and promote our unique value proposition relentlessly. Often. Frequently. Inexorably. Repeat. Passionately.
Can I get an Amen? Thank you.