Monday, July 4, 2011

The three key roles in a digital media operation

The biggest mistake that journalists make when they start an online news operation is that they don’t include marketing and technical people from the beginning.

Journalists are pretty good at figuring out how to tell stories online but they haven’t a clue about how to generate enough income to survive. They don’t know how to sell and even consider the notion somewhat repulsive. 

They also fail to bring in enough technical expertise to take advantage of the Web’s interactivity and multimedia capabilities. 

It is not necessary that there be three different people filling the roles of journalist, marketer and technician. But someone on your team must excel at each of those skill sets. 

Too many shooting guards

At the Digital Journalism Center in Guadalajara, Mexico, participants in the Entrepreneurial Journalism course had to develop marketing and business plans for their proposed media projects. Rarely did they have someone on their team with a background in sales and marketing. Of course they struggled to keep people on board without paying them.

A digital news operation is like a basketball team. You can’t win by putting five shooters on the floor. Someone has to rebound and play defense. Or if sports analogies don’t work for you, you can’t have a symphony orchestra with nothing but violins. You need some brass and percussion.

So if your operation is struggling financially, you need to bring somebody on board who knows how to sell. Or you need to develop one of the people you have to specialize in that area. 

Creative webmasters

I have been lucky to work with several webmasters who brought more than technical skill to our online training operation. Part of the reason, I believe, is that we included them in every aspect of planning and strategy. 

A good webmaster can help with product design and marketing. He or she will be current on developments in digital media that would never come onto the radar of the average digital journalist. 

Make sure your team has three legs. That is the most stable base to build on. 

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Robert Niles: How to Make Money Publishing Community News Online
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Google takes magic out of advertising sales process
How I ran my newspaper monopoly
Language barrier helps publisher paywalls
How to tailor news for 4 different platforms? 'Responsive design' 

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