Home' Local Media Today : November 2006 Contents 018'/$'4
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I served on the Newspaper Next task force and participated in the
wickedlocal portion of the study (sponsored by the SNA Foundation).
This was an eye opening experience. Our staff is now entrenched in the
N2 terminology – “invest a little; learn a lot” for example, is one of our
favorites. “Good enough” is another. We find ourselves applying these
principles in every day work. It is liberating and productive.
The N2 project makes four recommendations for newspapers:
Maximize the Core – Since we need money from the core to fund new
projects we must strengthen it using the N2 “jobs to be done” thinking.
This will include creating niche “jobs-
Build Audiences by Fulfilling “Jobs”
Beyond News – look beyond news to
find and satisfy important unmet jobs in
people’s lives. This includes getting
comfortable with “losing control” over
published content, getting out of the
proprietary mindset and changing from
content creator to platform provider and
Use New Models to Fulfill “Jobs” of
Current & New Advertisers – make it easier for “me” (the advertiser)
to attract customers – solutions include self serve channels, paid search
and lead generation.
Create Innovation Structures & Enablers – develop a common lan-
guage (“jobs to be done”, etc.); be patient for growth and impatient for
profits; have senior management show the way.
A great suggestion was to assign innovation champions and give them
“just enough” resources. Both Gannett and Scripps are adapting this
model and early reports are exciting. A few other key phrases stood out:
“Beware the sucking sound of the core” and “Transform the newsroom
into an information center”.
I encourage SNA members to learn as much as possible about the N2
project. We will devote an entire day to the disruptive innovation
methodology at the Spring Conference (March 28-30, 2007 – Tampa,
Florida) and the SNA Foundation will also be following up on the
wickedlocal project. Stay tuned!
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The SNA road show has begun! We are in the process of meeting with
retail and advertising agency executives across the country to showcase
the results of the SNA/Belden suburban market study. In the next twelve
months, we expect to present to over 200 media buyers. After just a few
weeks, we are seeing amazing results.
I had the privilege of presenting the Belden data to teams representing
Michaels, Sears/K-Mart and the senior executives at NSA Headquarters.
Other SNA staff members have presented to JCPenney, TJX Companies
and Comp USA. The feedback has been terrific. Three of the retailers
are actively looking for ways to incorporate more suburban and commu-
nity newspapers into their buy. One of them is looking to add mid-week
ROP. SNA’s advertising agency developed some creative ideas and the
retailer is considering it for the 2007 budget. This is really exciting
stuff. We are noticing a major shift in thinking when we visit media
buyers. Now is a great time to send your staff out to meet with retailers.
Be sure to do your homework before you go and understand their needs
and how your newspaper can help them reach their customers. Only
take research and information that is relevant to their category of busi-
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According to Scott Anthony, Managing
Director at Innosight, “After spending a year
studying transformation in the newspaper
industry, it couldn’t be clearer that the indus-
try faces tremendous threats. Yet, newspaper
companies that learn to look at their markets
in the right way and take the right actions can
spot and seize seemingly invisible opportuni-
ties. Managers today face a crucial choice:
Innovate and grow, or wither in the face of
seemingly endless threats.”
Innosight was the brains behind the
Newspaper Next project sponsored by
API.The one day workshop at the SNA
Spring Publishers’ Conference will focus on
the methodology - not the results of
Newspaper Next. It will give attendees the
guidance and roadmap to plan specific inno-
vative strategies for their home markets. It is
the only such session planned at any industry
conference scheduled to date. This is a
tremendous opportunity and is truly a must
attend for suburban and community newspa-
The conference runs March 28-30, 2007 at
Saddlebrook Resort in Tampa, FL.Scott’s ses-
sion will occur on Wednesday, March 28th.
The registration fee for the whole conference
is $575 and includes the Innosight workshop.
SNA has developed a special one day rate of
$259 for publishers to bring other senior level
managers to Scott’s session. There is going to
be break out time in the session for publishers
to work with their teams on strategies using
the disruptive innovation methodology. Each
paying publisher may also bring one editor
for free to the entire conference. The pro-
gramming on Thursday and Friday will con-
sist of sessions geared towards publisher/edi-
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Publishers can bring team
members at low additional
cost; each paying publisher
may also bring one editor free
to the entire conference.
The SNA Foundation sponsored GateHouse
Media’s hyperlocal website WickedLocal.com
as a Newspaper Next demonstration project.
WickedLocal.com was one of seven projects
nationwide to participate in Newspaper Next
(N2). Below, Kirk Davis, President of
GateHouse Media New England, discusses with
Susan Karol, Executive Director of the SNA
Foundation, the experience of learning about
and applying disruptive innovation concepts to
the company’s emerging web strategy. More to
come from this dialogue in the December issue.
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KD: At the time we joined the N2 project, we
thought we had what a hyper-local website
should look like. We’d spent almost a year
developing the site and it had launched to
What the N2 process forced us to do was to go
back and spell out some of our basic assump-
tions about our product, our customers, and
our purpose. And, to dedicate ourselves to
going back to those assumptions every step of
the way to make sure they are still valid, and
alter what we are doing when they are not.
N2 taught us that the innovation process is not
like the traditional strategic planning process
where you develop a good plan and then exe-
cute that plan. Innovation is much more fluid.
You develop a plan, do a little of the imple-
mentation, refine the plan from what you have
learned, implement some more, and so forth.
We now have three Wicked Locals and six
months more experience. We know a lot more
and have a lot better idea of where we should
go. But, perhaps most importantly, we realize
that we will never know enough to be able to
stop learning and say: “This is the plan, graven
in stone, no more changes!” Innovation does-
n’t work like that.
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KD: For both readers and advertisers, we’ve
focused on “ease of use.”
One potential pitfall for any kind of technolog-
ical innovation is that the people who are
doing the development are much more tech-
savvy than end users. Looking at tech develop-
ment through the customer’s eyes, we’re
focusing on allowing the customer to do things
in the way that he or she naturally wants to do
For example, we were right on the mark in
thinking that local search is a terrific way to
“get jobs done” for both consumers (“I want to
know where to buy a bicycle in Plymouth”)
and advertisers (“I want to reach people in the
area who are in the market for a bicycle”).
However, in the first generation of Wicked
Local Search, if users didn’t enter search terms
in a very specific way, they didn’t get the
information they expected. A first reaction to
this problem might have been to provide more
specific directions about how to search – train-
ing the customer. Instead, we’re working to
continuously refine the search process to make
it more intuitive – doing things the customer’s
We’re not yet where we want to be, but N2
ensured that we have the right thought process
to get there.
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