What are the expectations of those you serve? What drives your customers? Share your answers with us.

Brian SteffensIn my last post from NAA's 2013 MediaXchange I shared four takeaways and some thoughts and insights for one of them. I'll tackle a second one here:

From yesterday's post: It's not enough to simply deliver news and advertising (was it ever?). Success is building and growing a thriving community. Not boosterism, but providing the information and leadership (often by example) to propel a community to solve problems, meet challenges and take advantage of opportunities. It's also about helping services and businesses grow and thrive — if our industry helps them succeed, not just get them to buy an ad, the industry has the opportunity to grow once again.

This should prompt the question: What is our purpose?

Some of us might say:

  • to grow audience
  • to grow revenue
  • to deliver a return to shareholders
  • to keep government honest
  • to shine a light in dark places

Roy SpencePerhaps Roy Spence, co-founder and chairman of GSD&M; and co-founder and CEO of The Purpose Institute, aims higher. "Our job is to serve the greater good," he says.

And he makes a compelling case that if you do that, you'll create an environment in which you can and will grow audience and revenue, deliver value to shareholders, and make your community a better place to live. He also believes you can't be passive or neutral about it, that you must be passionate about it and lead toward that goal or purpose.


"Give the customer what they want, not what you want them to want."

"You get nothing done on common ground, you have to move to higher ground."

"We need to be in the growth and thrive business ... the growth and health of our communities."

"You are the trusted advocate for community, you are the trusted voice for community" The implication seems clear: advocate for community (not just for your own interests or those of your advertisers); be the voice of your community (not just of the experts and officials and the affluent customers of your advertisers).

Not unlike other motivational speakers who espouse that positive thinking begets positive results and negative thinking leads to negative results, Spence believes that "you become what you look for."

If you look for success, if you look for what's going right in your community, if you look for achievement and accomplishment, you'll likely find it. And when you share that, you'll encourage others to look for and aspire to further success, achievement and accomplishment. And that will lift the community, drive it to grow and thrive.

Check out the Grasshopper video.

Dave TomsenRelated to parts of the previous post — about personalizing large retailers and their broad inventory to individual customers or segments of customer — Dave Thomsen, executive vice president of product and design, Wanderful Media, relates customer expectations:(this would also be relevant as concerns readers or viewers of news media)

  • Personalization is an expectation.
  • Participation is an expectation, not just consumption.
  • Provide utility (enable/encourage action).... the customer wants/needs something that does the work for them, solves a problem, answers a question.
  • They expect it to be pretty, to be entertained (engaging).
  • Shopping (for a car) is work (make it easy, fun).
  • Shopping is being redefined (when, where and how we access news is being redefined).
  • Amazon is about discovery shopping (knowing the customer, what they've been looking for, what they've purchased, provides valuable predictive analytics that allows Amazon to push content and recommendations that become more contextually relevant over time, and more likely to result in improved engagement and-or a purchase. How long before the news industry can effectively deliver contextually relevant content and advertising alongside what the reader is looking at on the web, tablet or smartphone? Companies are working on it, but there's a long way to go before we approach Amazon's capabilities.

When faced with the fast pace of change in technology and reader-customer behavior, it's not been unheard of to run out and hire a programmer or technologist and say: build a website, tablet or smartphone app.

Wanderful decided one of its first hires, before product developer, would be a user experience specialist ... they hired from IDEO, a leading design and innovation consulting firm. "We wanted/needed to address the user experience before we built the product," said Thomsen.

In doing so, Wanderful identified the following drivers for shoppers:

  1. They love to save dollars
  2. The feel they miss out on sales
  3. They are inspired by others' tastes
  4. They want to show off shopping expertise
  5. They are collectors by nature

Discovering those drivers, they can then hire developers, programmers and marketers to develop products and services that tap into those drivers, those motivations.

Engaging with and being relevant to consumers is not just about shopping. Many of the same principles apply to readers.

Alan RusbridgerAlan Rusbridger, editor in chief of The Guardian in Manchester, UK offered his 10 tenants of Open Journalism:

  1. Open Journalism encourages participation, invites a response
  2. It is not inert, us to them
  3. Open Journalism Involves others in pre-publication process
  4. It forms communities of interest
  5. It is open to the web. it links to, and collaborates with
  6. It aggregates and curates
  7. It recognizes journalists are not the only voices of authority
  8. Open Journalism aspires to achieve, and reflect, diversity
  9. Publishing is just the start, not the end
  10. It is open to challenge, correction and clarification

"What depresses me most are people scrambling to return to the previous business model," says Rusbridger. "Everyone in the room has the potential to be a publisher, to commit an act of journalism. We seek to enlist them (not exclue them)."

Live blogs attracts the greatest traffic (at The Guardian). Online the paper has created networks of interest: commentary, music, education, environment, film. Perhaps not so dissimilar to themed sections in other papers, but the content is not limited to The Guardian's content. The networks pull in sources from around the web, reader input and more.

Not everyone in the room was comfortable with all the openness, but it is hard to argue with the results. Impressive traffic and growth, without a noticeable loss in integrity or honesty. They still do journalism with a big J, but their approach enables them to do more of it, provide multiple sources and perspectives, and often a richer depth to the reporting.

Check out the Guardian's new reader contribution effort.

Brian Steffens  
Director of Communications


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