How to be a modern media business

modern media business

What does it take to become a modern media business? At Making Publishing Pay we heard the inside story of seven innovative media businesses and how they have developed their range of products and services for their core audience.

These articles summarise the highlights of the speaker sessions:

How to build a subs led B2B intelligence business (AgriBriefing)

Innovation from The Drum, TTG Media and What Car

Innovation from Chemical Watch, The Lawyer and MarTech Alliance

What can we learn from the journeys of all these innovative media businesses?  There are some common themes that should be kept in mind as you set your own strategy.

1.    Understand your customer

Many have made a big investment in a variety of research approaches – from customer panels and formal research to gathering insights from live events and editorial interviews.  Building up a picture of customers’ pain points and needs is essential to work out how to develop your business.

2.    Be open minded about how to meet their needs

Several media owners have moved into new services, well beyond their content starting point.

·       What Car’s move into car sales – and maybe even data predictions for the auto industry.

·       AgriBriefing moving into global animal feed pricing, having started with Farmers Guardian.  And that first step with Farmers Guardian developing a broader range of services around the print publication.

·       Martech Alliance book club – a smart way to engage the community and gain access to influencers

·       The Drum Network and Recommended agency register, improving the process of selecting an agency

3.    Develop an overarching purpose

This connects all your activities, and also helps recruit and motivate staff.

Examples include The Drum: “marketing can change the world”, and TTG: “for smarter, better, fairer travel”

4.    Cater for different segments

Building on your research, identify segments with different needs

·       TTG has developed products for luxury, cruises, LGBT

·       The Drum offers networking for different disciplines within agencies

·       Martech Alliance events for different job roles

·       Chemical Watch allows members to personalise content to suit their interests

·       The Litigation Tracker appeals to barristers as well as solicitors

5.    Connect and repackage content

Everything you do has the potential to create valuable evergreen content

·       The Drum uses its awards to collate best practice

·       Martech Alliance repackages content for webinars, events, infographics, learning

·       The Lawyer’s journalism feeds into its data and vice versa

6.    Make bold investments (but research them thoroughly)

What Car was the biggest investment Haymarket had ever made

AgriBriefing buying FeedInfo was similarly bold

The Drum setting up in NYC also a ballsy move

The Litigation Tracker (from The Lawyer) was two years in research before launch

But the headline belies the detailed research beneath the surface

7.    Bring in new skills

Be aware of what you don’t know and how you might bridge the gap

·       Tech skills – product, development, martech, ecommerce – obvious gap

·       Data journalism, enterprise subs sales, customer success – less obvious but still important

·       New hires, freelance, agency partnerships – and look outside media sector

8.    Gather ideas widely – and experiment

That’s what events like Making Publishing Pay are about – listen to others, see what you can apply, and then test it out in your own business.


Did you attend Making Publishing Pay and are thinking about how to apply some of the ideas that were mentioned to become a modern media business?  Do get in touch if you want to have an open-minded chat over the phone or over a coffee.

About the author

Carolyn Morgan has bought, sold, launched and grown specialist media businesses across print, digital and live events.  A founder of the Specialist Media Show (sold in 2014) she now advises media businesses large and small on their digital strategy through her consultancy Speciall Media.

Read more about Carolyn

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