Archive for the ‘opinions’ Category

Why live events still matter for publishers

Monday, June 12th, 2017
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Festival of marketing gallery

When the world is connected and all content is digital, is there any point these days in publishers running live events, whether conferences, exhibitions or festivals?

Media is not the only sector to worry about the live vs digital experience.  Last week I met Shearer West, the newly appointed VC of Nottingham University, and she felt that higher education has also done some soul searching about the value of the lecture-based university experience.  But the HE sector has discovered that students still really value the inspiring, articulate, expert lecturer, and the chance to question and discuss in small groups; those in person experiences that digital learning can’t quite yet replicate.  And the sense of community created by living and studying with other students is just not possible when learning solo and remotely behind a screen.

So a sigh of relief for HE, and also for media businesses, especially in business sectors, who are seeing revenues from live events grow even while digital eats up their traditional print income.

In the last couple of months I have been interviewing senior B2B media execs for a report on events strategy.  You’ll have to wait till the Autumn for the full results, but it has made me reflect on the importance of live, in person occasions for a media brand…

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Posted in b2b, business strategy, events, opinions

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How digital has changed publishing since 2008 and a view of the future

Thursday, October 27th, 2016
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Eight years ago I set up my consulting firm, Penmaen Media, with the intent of helping publishing and media businesses navigate the complex world of digital.

Life hasn’t got any simpler since 2008 – I thought to mark the anniversary I’d sum up the timeline of digital publishing challenges, and look ahead to the future. (more…)

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Posted in agile publisher, b2b, business strategy, consumer, content, marketing, opinions

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The borderless world – and what it means to publishers

Sunday, October 28th, 2012
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Media has always been national.  The limitations of print production and physical distribution, state control of TV and language and cultural boundaries have meant each national media landscape evolved separately.  But with the relentless growth of internet connections and ability to access information instantly, globally, even bypassing state controls, the media world is becoming borderless.  So what does this mean for publishers?

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Posted in b2b, business strategy, consumer, content, news, opinions

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Olympic lessons for specialist publishers

Monday, August 13th, 2012
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London 2012 has been a truly inspiring couple of weeks, with the spotlight shining on many niche sports that usually get little publicity.  Of course the BBC coverage was heavily weighted to the sports where Brits had medal hopes, but there must be plenty of new spectators now more knowledgeable about hockey, rowing, cycling, sailing, dressage and diving, as well as athletics.  A great boost for publishers in these sectors, but what are the Olympic lessons for all niche publishers?  Here’s my take – and apologies in advance for the UK-centric viewpoint: (more…)

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Posted in b2b, business strategy, consumer, opinions, people and culture

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Ten predictions for digital publishing for 2011

Saturday, December 11th, 2010
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It’s been a helter skelter ride this year for publishers working out their digital strategy.  Apps have come from nowhere to a core part of the publishing toolkit in just a year.  Murdoch finally implemented his paywall and had some sort of success with it.  Digital editions are being reborn with the ipad and other tablets.  And social media has made editors think again about how they broadcast their content and manage contributions from their readers.  Joakim Ditlev of Zmags asked me to come up with some predictions for 2011; these are inevitably biased towards specialist publishers as my main constituency.  Be interesting to review them in twelve months time… (more…)

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Posted in b2b, business strategy, consumer, content, marketing, opinions

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Can a virtual trade show replace a live event?

Friday, September 17th, 2010
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As the organiser of the Specialist Media Show I am well aware of the practical headaches of live events – venue costs, choosing a date, stand and feature build and break down, not to mention the carpet!  There’s also the task of persuading visitors to take a day out and travel for hours and convincing exhibitors that the extra costs of staff time and travel are justified.  So the idea of virtual events is highly appealing – no venue cost, no shell scheme, no carpet or catering – and it should be easier to persuade visitors to attend for a few hours from their computer screen, and for smaller exhibitors to try out the environment.

But can a virtual show replace the thrill and spectacle of a live event?  I think it’s unlikely in consumer events, where people want to touch and feel the product, but could be more interesting in b2b shows, where the products are intangible and exhibitors focus on lead generation.  Some UK organisers are testing the water, but the US as usual is more advanced.  Yesterday I attended Publishing Business Virtual Expo to road test the environment.  Here’s my admittedly subjective view based on the main reasons visitors and exhibitors attend trade shows, with a star rating based on the quality of the experience vs live: (more…)

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Posted in b2b, business strategy, events, opinions

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Why specialist titles thrive with independent publishers

Saturday, August 21st, 2010
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Media giant IPC are in the process of disposing of around 28 niche titles – like Guitar and The Railway – and reportedly are selling to several small publishers rather than as a job lot.  This set me thinking about specialist media businesses and whether they actually do better under independent ownership than as part of a large media organisation.  At Emap I disposed of several niche specialist magazines that were deemed to be uneconomic.  They moved to independent publishers, where they were nurtured and started growing again.  Here’s my thoughts on why niche media businesses can actually do better when independently owned: (more…)

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Posted in b2b, business strategy, consumer, news, opinions, people and culture

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5 reasons the Times paywall won’t work

Thursday, April 8th, 2010
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There’s been lots of debate and frantic calculations following the Times’ announcement of a £2 a week paywall.  Listening to the views of members of the Specialist Media Network I’m pretty convinced it isn’t going to attract a large audience, and isn’t going to revolutionise the newspaper business model.  So here’s my five reasons the Times online paywall won’t work: (more…)

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Posted in b2b, business strategy, consumer, content, marketing, news, opinions

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Regional digital media sector comes of age

Monday, August 17th, 2009
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Being based 100 miles North of London – albeit on a very fast train line – and working principally with specialist media businesses and a range of SMEs in the Midlands, I’ve had two main frustrations in creating digital media and marketing strategies for regional clients. Firstly, the digital agency world is overwhelmingly London-centric, and secondly, there is a complete dearth of standard qualifications and accreditations for digital agencies, creating a minefield for regional small or medium businesses seeking reputable providers to implement their digital media and marketing strategy.  So I was cheered to hear two pieces of news, that should help strengthen the regional digital agency sector, and safeguard regional clients. (more…)

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Posted in b2b, consumer, implementation, marketing, opinions

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Trends and tips in specialist information publishing from SIPA congress

Tuesday, July 14th, 2009
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Last week I attended the SIPA (specialist information publishers association) annual UK congress, and picked up lots of interesting insights from speakers and delegates, largely b2b publishers of newsletters, events and online content services, but with a smattering of consumer publishers as well.  Many businesses had started out as traditional print newsletters but are now migrating to online information publishing. Here are some trends and tips to help consumer and b2b print publishers alike as they make their digital transition: (more…)

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Posted in b2b, business strategy, consumer, content, opinions

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Thoughts from the Media Futures Conference 2009

Thursday, July 9th, 2009
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I took part in a panel discussion at the Media Futures Conference last week (#mfc09), organised by the multi-talented and well-connected Nico Macdonald.  A wide range of media gurus from BBC, LBS, C4, ITV, PA, Techcrunch, Enders, Bloomberg and many more contributed their, often radical, ideas on the future of media: covering consumer behaviour, technology and funding models.  There was a focus on broadcast entertainment and news, but the conclusions are applicable I believe to all media businesses and those who supply them or use them to reach key audiences.  Here’s my take on the main themes: watch this blog for more thoughts as it all starts to sink in. (more…)

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Posted in b2b, business strategy, consumer, content, news, opinions

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Future business models for media and content

Thursday, June 25th, 2009
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I’m contributing to the Media Futures conference next Friday as part of a discussion on future business models for media and content.  This post sets out some of the ideas I will be exploring in more detail at the conference.

The “old media” business model

This was based on clear distinctions between platforms – print, TV, radio – each of which required scale to manage the means of production and distribution.  Licensing in broadcast further raised entry barriers.  Media businesses controlled access to consumers and charged advertisers a premium.  Consumers  relied on media brands to edit choice, and paid a premium for the privilege.  Media businesses were mini-monopolies, could dictate cover price and ad rates, and reinvested their profits into quality editorial.  The benefits of scale (print, production, newstrade negotiations…) encouraged acquisition of independents into large media groups – Emap famously did this in magazines and also radio; Newsquest and Johnston Press in regional papers. (more…)

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Posted in b2b, business strategy, consumer, content, opinions

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Reinventing online content for publishers

Sunday, May 10th, 2009
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There’s been much debate in the last week on charging for content.  Newspapers like the Guardian that were previously adamant that all their content should be free, are now thinking about charging for specific information to targeted groups, eg media guardian.  The continued pressure on advertising revenue is forcing newspaper and magazine publishers to make dramatic cuts in editorial.  I’ve been thinking about how publishers can reinvent the way they think about creating content, and restructure their editorial investment accordingly.  See my earlier post on paid-for content for some extra tips. Here’s some radical ideas on inverting the traditional pyramid of editorial investment, with news as the broad base, and a small amount of added value content at the top: (more…)

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Posted in business strategy, consumer, content, opinions

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Can subscriptions save newspapers?

Wednesday, March 11th, 2009
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Everywhere you look, newspaper business models are in free-fall.  The rapid decline in classified ads – especially recruitment, motors and property – has unhinged the old order where readers got reams of quality journalism at a low price, and organisations had a ready outlet for news releases and relevant advertising. (more…)

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Posted in business strategy, content, marketing, opinions

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When can you charge for content

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009
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With the current decline in advertising continuing, many publishers have been re-examining where and how they can charge for online content.  One extreme position is that of the Guardian, whose MD Tim Brooks has categorically said they will never charge for content.(see my recent blog on their web strategy).  Other publishers, notably the FT, have tried to make a subscription  model work.  At the other end of the spectrum, many specialist publishers have long developed print subscriptions as a  big revenue earner.  Here are some ideas on how you can identify the areas where you can potentially charge for content: (more…)

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Posted in business strategy, consumer, content, opinions

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