Gannett Broadcasting putting some of their local web sales on auto pilot? The media titan announced they’ll join Raycom, LocalTV LLC and other digitally frustrated media properties in outsourcing some web efforts. No surprise, they’re teaming up with DataSphere; the master of call-center web sales and blogs. Was this type form of local media strategy predicted years ago? Yup.
Back in 2003, local media analysts republished a report about the Disruption of Local Media. The study was conducted with Clark Gilbert, a protege of Harvard Prof. Clayton Christensen, author of business best seller; Innovator’s Dilemma. (a must read on how incumbent companies, run by really smart managers, are unable to build new businesses while focusing on core customers) Read Chapter 1 of Innnovator’s Dilemma here. The report tried to answer the question that was a recurring theme in the book:
Can local media tackle the Internet with existing management, content and sales personnel?
The answer was no back then. Seems like that answer still stands today. Historical analogies suggest, that traditional media will try to win on web, but will ultimately fail.
Despite smart management and a high degree of awareness, no company – including newspapers armed with this knowledge – has been able to achieve new net gain by tackling a disruptive technology with an integrated management approach. Traditional managers tend to disbelieve the implications of what is happening to their own industry.
So let me get this straight…..
- If the TV GM and/or news director is responsible for the TV station website, it will fail.
- If the Radio PD, GM or Marketing director is responsible for the Radio website, it will fail.
- If the Newspaper publisher or news editor, is responsible for the Newspaper site, it will fail.
The key take-away from this 7 year old report? As long as a traditional media manager is calling the shots at the local media website, it will most certainly fail. Whoa.
Solution? Separate general management, sales, programming, editorial……separate everything. Build a business that can, and should attack the mother ship. Not following this path of action will allow pure-plays like Patch, ReachLocal and DataSphere, to make serious inroads into the local marketplace, in what once was the wholly owned domain of mainstream media.
Other online-only and hyper-local business models to watch: NewzJunky, BrooklynBugle.com, www.VancouverObserver.com , www.BrigantineNOW.com
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