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Reporters as Brand Managers
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Reporters as Brand Managers



News reporters as brand managers and information curators from NKY.com's Dennis Hetzel http://twitter.com/dennishetzel at the Enquirer Media News 2.0 Forum with Cincinnati Social Media and Cincinnati ...

News reporters as brand managers and information curators from NKY.com's Dennis Hetzel http://twitter.com/dennishetzel at the Enquirer Media News 2.0 Forum with Cincinnati Social Media and Cincinnati Society of Professional Journalists.



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  • To some extent the best reporters have always been brand managers in the sense. They are guardians of their topics, trusted and respected experts about what they cover. But I’m suggesting that there is still a huge leap to be made in how we approach beat coverage in the digital age, and it might, just might, unleash significant opportunities to build audience and revenue if we can become known as the “First Stop” on those topics that we identify as most important. That means we must “impress indelibly” on our audience that when they want information about a certain topic – regardless of its source – they come to us first.
  • But it was fun, too. And the great newspapers “back in the day” had reporters who were legendary in their communities for the way they covered their beats and made a difference.
  • Then these guys – or the guys playing these guys – showed up in the early 1970s. Imagine the audience Woodward and Bernstein would have had as bloggers. And imagine the forces that would have been ratcheted up against them. Imagine how Watergate coverage would have unfolded today. The Watergate era also created a lot of journalistic excesses and disconnections from readers that wasn’t really their fault. That’s a subject for another day. The point here is that they probably represent the penultimate beat reporters at the apex of the power of print journalism.
  • But we can’t live in the past. A lot of things are different today. But one thing isn’t. Readers still need navigators they can trust to get through the maze. If anything, that matters even more.
  • The emergence of the importance of blogs is no secret to this audience. Here is an example of our NKY Politics blog at The Enquirer. Thankfully, some improvements are coming. Pat already does a good job of getting interaction and linking to outside content – 2 keys to where I think beats need to go.
  • The “Cruise Log” at USA Today comes a lot closer. Look at all the resources for people interested in cruising. This is a potential “first stop” on this topic .. If I’m interested in cruising, I quite possible will go here first. He’s a brand manager for his topic.
  • Cincy Chic has been a great addition to our blogs recently. We have bloggers with particular topic expertise joining us on a freelance basis now – another new development.
  • So, how do we build on this or how does organization become a “first stop” in the digital space? We’re in the midst of doing some of this. Here are some examples of topics we have on our plates for consideration at The Enquirer.
  • Talk here about photos/video as well as text. The typical pattern – but not always – start with a tweet – go to your blog – repurpose the blog into the “main” part of the site through a story or redirect promotion – repurpose into print What grade would I give our efforts at Enq Media? While we have moved faster than some of our traditional competitors, we still have a great distance to travel. I think we particularly have a long way to go in leveraging and promoting interaction. Very spotty. And I don’t mean to imply that these reporters get no support .. There have to be both automation and human support strategies to help them flag and deploy content rapidly and well. How do you implement? What kind of process is needed to pull this off? All this represents classic TQM thinking for those of you who have studied quality management – especially the concept of doing things right the first time. There is scant infrastructure left. These reporters must be very nimble and very, very adept at doing things right the first time. There will be times when they are working without a net.
  • And this is why it’s so important to embrace interaction. Look at what the audience is doing – whether we want them to or not.
  • Well, here’s an important question. We also need to think about how this fits into our future business – how do we monetize first-stop topics? I think this approach will lead to opportunities we can’t even predict yet. But there are a few we can suggest already, and here are a few suggestions. … …. Point 4 – white label topics for partners even.
  • So, here’s my point in the form of a metaphor. Note how the musicians must pay attention to the conductor to be successful, too.
  • And it’s an orchestra that involves the audience – some of whom may or may not want to pay attention to the leader, or even riff to the basic theme. It’s my hope that this way of looking at beat coverage is a good thought-provoker and discussion-starter, because I know there are people in this room who can riff off this idea in directions I haven’t even imagined.

Reporters as Brand Managers Reporters as Brand Managers Presentation Transcript

  • Brand: to impress indelibly: The plane crash was branded on her mind. Dictionary.com Dennis Hetzel / Enquirer Media
  • Imagine a blog and Tweets from “WoodStein” This is called a typewriter, by the way.
  • Illustration by Likecool.com Twitter 2.0 clue: In a world of unlimited info , sorting & filtering are increasingly valuable pieces of the value chain. from Social Media Insider (via Twitter)
    • Identify key topics where you must be the first stop. High strategic imperative.
    • Identify key topics where you want to be the first stop. High strategic advantage.
    • Reporter/topic managers move content from small bursts to wider information bursts.
    • They are ‘content-agnostic’ … whatever it takes to be ‘first stop.’
    • They are ‘format-agnostic’ … using tools that best convey the information.
    • They are adept at managing interaction – and taking maximum advantage of it.
    So, what are these reporters doing?
  • The reporter’s content is being supplemented, linked, enriched and transformed by audience interaction throughout the process. And it’s happening on multiple platforms. And what is the audience doing?
    • Tie data to key topics.
    • Use topical expertise to build overall audience
    • Sell specific topics of high interest to advertisers and sponsors.
    • Tie topics to strategic partnerships.
    So, the publisher just might ask, where’s the money?
  • We used to be like classical conductors. We had rights to the music. Everyone followed our baton.
  • Now, it’s more like sketching out the themes of an improv jazz composition…. … and the audience is part of the performance.