The E-Media Org Chart
Your readers are online. Your advertisers are spending money online, or will be shortly. Online-only competitors are innovating their way into your market and gaining momentum. To truly capture online revenue opportunities and protect your market position, it’s not enough to hire a Webmaster and a token e-media sales person. You need an e-media cultural overhaul. Regardless of your market or where you are in developing online media, the steps to transforming your organization into an e-media powerhouse remain the same.
It Starts at the Top
The road begins with an attitude of change at the very top of the organization. Go to your favorite search engine and enter key terms for your market. Ask your readers what sites they use. You will discover more online resources, communities, advertisers, and successful media models than you thought possible.
Afraid of cannibalizing your print publication? Your online competitors aren’t. They are busy building online resources and want to undercut your prices, deliver better value for readers and advertisers, and make money doing it. As dollars continue to shift online, don’t lament the change. Go after it, and keep the revenue for yourself. If anyone is going to cannibalize your print revenue, make sure it’s you and not someone else. Remember, it’s not about growing print or e-media revenues specifically. It’s about growing total revenue and profit across your brand.
Embrace New Roles
There is no room for print publishers any more. In today’s media world, you must make the transition to a brand manager representing an editorial position and value to your readers and advertisers across multiple media channels.
Likewise, sellers can no longer survive selling print schedules each fall. Marketers are under pressure to perform and want solutions targeted to their specific marketing needs year-round. They want creativity and quantifiable results. Sellers take note: Bring innovative print and e-media solutions that meet your customers’ marketing objectives on a regular basis or lose out on business and be replaced by others who can.
Circulation managers must become audience development managers. Yes, print circulation and audits are still critical, but now must be augmented by developing e-mail lists, managing Web site registration, generating attendees for Webcasts, and managing lead-generation programs for advertisers. An understanding of online privacy laws, dynamics of e-mail delivery, and how to prevent list burnout is critical. Make the transition from managing a print circulation to managing a database of readers who consume a wide variety of products.
For editors, the mental transition is about no longer being just the authoritative source of information on a periodic cycle. Yes, there is still a role for authoritative information, but it’s now also about facilitating information exchange and interaction among readers, advertisers, associations and even your competitors;all on a continual and immediate basis. It’s about creating interactive databases and tools; aggregating, filtering and organizing content from the entire community; fostering (not controlling) online communities; and developing content for Web seminars and online video. Adapt to these new roles and it can be the most fun you’ve ever had as an editor. Resist and watch your readers go elsewhere for their information.
Give It Focus
Finally, you must give online media the focus it needs to fully develop its potential. The most critical investment is hiring a dedicated person to oversee your online efforts.
This person needs to know online media intimately, but also understand the dynamics of print publishing. He or she needs to create product development and marketing plans and make your editors, sellers, and circulation managers feel ownership without allowing those same people to bog down progress. The manager will train and support the sales staff, talk with customers, and ensure that content and ad production processes are rock solid to deliver results. The position should report directly to the head of the organization (the CEO at the company level or the group director/publisher at the business unit level), have bottom-line responsibility for online, and have the authority to make the decisions required to grow the business.
Most importantly, the manager needs to help you transform your organization into being as comfortable and proficient with online media as it is with print. Your goal, and the goal of the e-media product manager, is to equip your staff to serve your readers and advertisers regardless of the medium they choose to use and grow your business in the process.
Eric Shanfelt is Executive VP of Aspire Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.