Señor: Rebirth and a bright future for newspapers

Newspapers "are emphatically not dead but are enjoying a rebirth and a bright future".

So says president of media adviser Innovation Juan Señor - a regular keynote speaker at WAN-Ifra events - who spoke of "widespread innovations in business models which will sustain and protect print for the future" at the Ifra World Publishing Expo/Berlin Publishing Days this month.

Señor speaks of essential business strategies for growing your publishing business over several years, and produces an annual report on innovations which "increase reach, relevancy and revenue".

In earlier presentations, there have been fewer than ten essential business strategies for his audiences to consider; now there are 14.

Listeners were entreated to set in place "at least five or six of these" and hopefully several more, in the drive to manage change and develop journalism-first newsrooms because of the need to have content worth charging for.

Señor says publishers need to charge for content, and move their business model from advertising revenue-based to reader revenue-based. "Advertising revenue is never enough to pay for the crucial good journalism.

"However, you can work for both revenue streams together, as a datawall is as important as a paywall.

"Now you must ask for data or dollars, or it is game over for your business," he promises, saying that "you must re-anchor your business according to these principles and remember that money is made where the article is first viewed - the rest is promises from false prophets".

He talks of readers and their "click cocaine" - being addicted to FaceBook and Google - but says it is time to fight back, playing offence not defence, by treating their site as a destination and only serving news appetisers on the big two.

"We have lost trust and confidence that we can charge for our content, but it is essential that you offer journalism worth paying for, and content that triggers subs," he says, urging listeners to consider flexible paywalls.

Among his 14 business strategies - some being included for the first time - are:

Maximise emotional advertising, using behavioural targeting and premium pricing;

Be your own agency as "content branding is the only way to go";

Look at time marketing, selling time on your site rather than clicks;

Build a community and club feeling , with loyalty benefits for readers;

Consider the publisher as a databroker; as a brand licensor; as an investor in start-ups; as a philanthropist - making and receiving donations; as an event organiser -organising festivals over several days rather than just single events; as an educator; and as a library, selling photo archives and nostalgia to readers;

See your journalists as recommenders; and

Be an IT provider, following the shining example of the Arc CMS, developed by Jeff Bezos' Washington Post and now sold worldwide.

However, it is impossible to sell subscriptions and journalism unless you transform your newsroom first, he says. "In your transmedia newsroom, print becomes an output desk. Publish stories all day, then assemble your print edition from your best stories."

Señor says there are no "instant digital miracles or salvation.

"Only journalism worth paying for will save journalism."

Maggie Coleman

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