What does innovation in consumer media look like? What can we learn from case studies of other publishers?
Over recent months I have been researching specialist consumer media innovators from across Europe. I have compiled twenty case studies for a report for MX3. This article is a sneak preview of the best practice I have uncovered – the report itself will be published later in November.
Our innovators are a mix of heritage brands and start-ups, some with over 500 staff, but many with fewer than 20. After learning more about their business models I identified twelve guiding principles that could be applied to other consumer media businesses. How many are you following in your organisation?
1. Building editorial authority, trust and authenticity
The foundation of your brand – whether you invest in research, surveys, campaign on behalf of your community or personalise your content.
2. Creating multi-format editorial content
Offer your readers a choice of content formats – audio articles, radio, podcasts, video, data, statistics, broadcast live streams – tailored to their preferences.
3. Reinventing digital subscription packages
Add value to your subscribers by providing access to sister publications, your archive, exclusive communities, event tickets, online tools and databases, or discounts on related products and services.
4. Defining new audiences and launching new brands
Stay close to your audiences and spot emerging interest groups or tribes. Consumers are open to trying out new brands that exactly match their interests.
5. Building a close member community
Encourage your audience to ask questions, participate in online forums or live events, post their own blogs or meet editors. They can even become advocates bringing in new members or subscribers.
6. Driving growth through social media content
Build tailored, well-crafted, engaging content for your audience on appropriate social channels to reach an international audience and drive traffic to your other content brands.
7. Creating branded content for corporate partners
Use that content creation skill to partner with advertisers and clients to help them communicate more effectively with your audience.
8. Extending into non-media services
Understand the other problems and challenges your audience have, and develop solutions – from jobs listings to licensing, e-commerce to property search, competitions to courses. This is where that foundation of editorial trust gives you permission to offer related services.
9. Establishing a culture and organisation to attract talent and build productivity
To deliver multi-format content and new services you will need to bring in new skills, create a culture of innovation and encourage cross-disciplinary teams to work closely together.
10. Experimenting with AI
Test out new AI technology to generate audio, video, summaries or scripts. And to analyse data on content consumption patterns.
11. Expanding internationally
Even smaller media businesses can translate content to new territories. And social media is an effective channel to test the appetite of global audiences. Younger cohorts are particularly open to sampling new content.
12. Targeted acquisitions (and fundraising)
Many publishers have had success with crowdfunding, or even found major investors from within their audience. This can speed up growth, and power related acquisitions.
To discover more about the twenty case studies, and how their innovations and evolving business models provide inspiration and ideas that you could apply to your business, download the MX3 specialist media report here.
Read our previous report, with twenty different case studies from Europe, and more of a focus on B2B media, here.
Many of the companies featured in both reports will be speaking at MX3 Barcelona in March 2023.
For a discussion about how the ideas in this report can apply to your media business please contact us to arrange a chat over a real or virtual coffee.
To share your successes (and cautionary tales) with your peers, request to join the Speciall Media Group, a community of over 250 publishers run by Carolyn Morgan on Guild. It’s free (for now) but invite only.
About the author
Carolyn Morgan has acquired, launched, built, and sold specialist media businesses in print, digital and events. She now advises niche consumer and B2B publishers on developing new products and digital revenue streams as a consultant and NED.