This is a vision for transformation of our media company and of media companies in general. A vision like this needs lots of detail and I’ll provide plenty of that in related posts. But most important, it needs a simple proposition — how consumers and business customers will see us:
For consumers, we will be their essential connection to community life — news, information, commerce, social life. Like many Internet users turn first to Google, whatever their need, we want Eastern Iowans to turn first to Gazette Communications, whatever their need. For businesses, we will be their essential connection to customers, often making the sale and collecting the money. We will become the Complete Community Connection.
Our company will provide an interactive, well-organized, easily searched, ever-growing, always updated wealth of community news, information and opportunities on multiple platforms. We need to become the connection to everything people and businesses need to know and do to live and do business in Eastern Iowa. We need to change from producing new material for one-day consumption in the print product or half-hour consumption in the broadcast product to producing new content for this growing community network of information and opportunities.
Tim McGuire of Arizona State University, with whom I shared a draft of this blueprint, cautioned me: “Do not underestimate how scary and how big the concept of moving beyond one-day consumption is.” This may be a scary change for our industry, but these are scary times. I can think of nothing more scary for our industry than failure to reach far enough or change thoroughly enough.
News remains essential to our mission and our identity, but cannot limit our vision. We do need to add to our information content storehouse daily with news and other information, some of it perishable but much of it evergreen. We need to be a portal through which you can easily reach any information or activities in the community. We need to provide a conveniently organized, easily searchable treasure chest of information that feeds multiple products that consumers reach in a variety of ways:
- Through community portals that direct them to useful information.
- Through search.
- Through habitual use of individual products using our content.
- Through direct access to raw content before it is packaged for various products.
- Virally as word spreads about the usefulness of our content, our various products or of the community network we develop.
The details of the Complete Community Connection — C3 — will be determined not by my decree but by the needs of the marketplace and by the creativity and abilities of the staff. In this series of blog posts, I detail my vision to help staff, colleagues, community, company leaders and colleagues in the media to see the possibilities, not to dictate the exact course to follow. I welcome ideas that add to and improve this vision. It will work most effectively when it is our vision, not my vision.
We will reach some people who never read The Gazette or watch KCRG by doing important jobs such as connecting them with people of common interests or helping them find the products and services that help them live their lives. We will serve other people in multiple ways, producing and delivering their morning paper and their evening newscast, providing text news alerts during the day and networking them in the community in a variety of ways.
In many of these categories, our work is to design the digital infrastructure, develop the digital meeting place and promote the product, but the content will be provided by users, businesses and individuals. In other cases, content will be material from our archives or from daily news content that we give evergreen use. We will need to generate considerable new content for some of these products. And where we are relying on content from the community, we will need to invest considerably in curating, editing, monitoring and promoting the content.
In all of these cases, we need to look at mobile opportunities and email opportunities as well as print and web. And we should watch for new opportunities as new technology presents new ways to connect. We should explore every possibility for providing people the news and information they want when they want it, whether that means email, text message, RSS feed, Twitter feed, social media, iPod, game device, GPS device or some other way of interaction. And, of course, print and broadcast will remain key platforms for some of this content for the foreseeable future.
Despite our reduction in staff, this is a vision for a growing media company that eventually will generate new revenue streams to support new jobs.
The C3 will help people form personal connections with our staff and each other similar to the personal connections they feel to Beth Malicki, Bruce Aune and other KCRG anchors. They will feel as if they know people they have never met, ranging from the bloggers they follow to moms or sports fans they connect with through our network. The C3 will form a relationship with its users reminiscent of that possessive feeling readers used to have (and, fortunately, as we’ve seen again and again since the flood, many still have) with “my” newspaper. They tell us with pride or anger that we were “my” paper. Sometimes they would tell us that they didn’t want that kind of content in “my” paper. While that’s an uncomfortable conversation, it’s an ideal business relationship.
In the same way, C3 will be “my” web site, “my” email alert, “my” podcast, “my” text buddy, “my” shopping solution, “my” connection to customers, “my” solution for lots of life’s little and big jobs for individuals and businesses alike. (And yes, still, “my” newspaper.)
This overview introduces a collection of blog posts explaining the Complete Community Connection in detail. Continue reading about the background and concepts of C3:
Then read about the five major categories of C3 content and connection:
- Community content
- Personal content and connection
- Business connection services
- Enriched news
Since C3 was published in April 2009, I have published three posts on mobile opportunities that I now consider part of the C3 approach:
- News organizations need mobile-first strategy
- News companies need to help local businesses pursue mobile opportunities
- How news organizations need to change to pursue a mobile-first strategy
To read all three of my mobile-first posts as a pdf with a table of contents:
If you’d rather read a review first to see if this blueprint (it’s long) is worth your time, Mark Potts had lavish praise for the blueprint in his Recovering Journalist blog. Or if you prefer, you can read the blueprint as a pdf:
I discussed C3 in this video for the National Summit on Arts Journalism: