7 Steps to Save Your Local Newspaper: #4 – Make a Personal Assessment

December 6, 2010

If you have been following the series; 7 Steps to Save Your Local Newspaper, then you know I’ve been discussing what might be unchartered waters to you.  In step #1, I talked about the necessity to shift your mindset to accept that technological innovations have changed the way news is delivered forever.  In step #2, I discussed becoming comfortable with new media in general and more specifically, Web 2.0 that has revolutionized how information is going to be exchanged in the future.  In step #3, I further discussed the transition from print to digital by integration of multiple media into news delivery.  I purposely selected this next step to address the anxiety that might be starting to set in about now.  Before you go any further, it is important that you stop and take a personal assessment of yourself and maybe even your staff to examine your core competencies and the ability to convert these steps to a successful action plan.  The great thing about technology is that it is constantly changing allowing for you to get up to speed fairly quickly.  Unfortunately, some people might find technology intimidating.  Please don’t worry.    I’m in my 50s and I have been where you are and believe me when I say, if I can learn it, so can you.  This step is about providing you with tools and resources to assist you on your journey and better prepare you for the inevitable transition.

One of the first things I am going to recommend is to reserve some time everyday to research these topics.  For example, set aside about an hour daily and use whatever search engine you’re comfortable with, (i.e. Google, Ask.com, Yahoo, Bing, etc.) and do a search on social media and newspapers in social media.  As with any topic you research on the internet, there will literally be thousands of results.  Select one and dive in.  Read and learn.  Consume the information until you completely understand the concepts and their practical applications.

The next thing I recommend is to start following some experts in this field.  The following people are not affiliated with the newspaper industry, but they are considered experts in the social media and marketing fields.  These people have successfully monetized social media.  By taking the time to understand and get to know what social media is all about, you are making the commitment necessary to take the next step in the marriage of the newspaper industry and social media.  Take the time to visit their websites, subscribe to their blogs, listen to their podcasts, and read their books.

  • Chris Brogan – I personally know and have the highest respect for Chris.  I consider him the “Godfather” of social media, Social Media 101, http://www.chrisbrogan.com.
  • Mitch Joel  – Six Pixels of Separation,  http://www.twistimage.com/blog/ and podcast
  • John Wall and Christopher Penn, Again personal friends –  http://www.marketingovercoffee.com blog and podcasts
  • Seth Godin – http://www.sethgodin.typepad.com

**WARNING**           **WARNING**            **WARNING**

BUYERS BEWARE!  PLEASE DO NOT GET TAKEN!

Because you may be new to some of the technologies and concepts I have been discussing over the course of this series, I want to make sure you understand that much of what I have recommended is FREE or at a very low cost.  There is no need to spend a lot of money to integrate these technologies.  Leave that to the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal.   Let’s look at our website, Civicedition.com as an example.  It was a free wordpress blog that someone helped me to install.  I purchased a template for $150.00 and had some very low cost graphic design work done.  I have ghostwriters help me take my ideas and convert them to something you like to read because I don’t write particularly well.  Other than that, that’s it.  My costs are minimal.  You as a business will have some more costs to consider, but all in all there is absolutely no need to spend thousands of dollars up front.  I suggest taking it one step at a time.  Once you’re comfortable, move on to the next step.

In summary, take the time to learn it before you try to implement it.  Read the books that I recommended and learn as much as possible by visiting the blogs I referenced.  Once you get comfortable, I recommend you interact by posting comments on blogs you find interesting.  Learning this process will not only give you the opportunity to engage, but it will also provide you with the same experience you will ultimately be providing for your subscribers.  It’s important that you understand how the process works so you are prepared to offer your subscribers a digital outlet that integrates audio, visual, text and pictures while incorporating a medium of information exchange.  Next post in Step 5, I’ll be discussing further the role of technology in your business.  Until next time…..

Think outside the newsstand,

Joe

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