From the death of George Floyd and ongoing battles between police and protesters to the pandemic, the world is in a state of crisis. Throughout these challenges, media companies have learned some valuable lessons that will be critical to their survival in the coming months and years.
Even as countries begin lifting lockdowns and talking about defunding or dismantling police forces, publishers will never forget what they’ve recently learned. Not when the global crisis has taught companies how to support consumers while dealing with fewer resources, more misinformation and a higher demand for content.
“[This crisis] represents the biggest opportunity – and biggest challenge – for our industry in 75 years,” states James Hewes, FIPP’s CEO.
Media companies must now slowly adapt to a new normal, where fighting racism, driving truth and navigating online connections are all in a day’s work. That said, here’s what publishers will remember from this global crisis as they head into the new normal.
1. Always Diversify Revenue Streams
The saying “don’t put all your eggs in one basket” has never been truer for media companies. More specifically, COVID-19 put a particularly large strain on their ability to earn revenue from print content and third-party advertisers. Those that depended solely on advertising or print-driven revenue models had to quickly adopt a digital reader revenue model to survive.
It became quite clear early on in the pandemic that consumers stand at the heart of every B2C media company and, therefore, control how profitable publishers are. Moving forward, most media companies will understand that reader revenue is a priority.
But that doesn’t mean publishers should ignore other streams of revenue either.
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According to Randall Rothenberg, the CEO of the Interactive Advertising Bureau, “You need to diversify your revenue streams. Period, full stop.”
The more revenue streams you can rely on, the better your business will fare in the future.
2. Give Consumers Outlets for Important Conversations
Amid the Black Lives Matter movement and COVID-19, publishers have discovered that they have a responsibility to spark meaningful conversations that educate and spread awareness around racism and the virus.
Media companies are able to open their platforms to interactive opportunities, where people can share their own experiences and questions regarding both topics. As a result, media companies can become central to positive changes throughout the world.
And let’s not forget how consumers have a growing interest in online interactions as social distancing measures continue. Sports fans in particular are actively seeking out social outlets to fill the void.
At the end of the day, social tools can help consumers become more informed on critical issues, and cause them to forge long-lasting bonds around publisher brands.
3. Social Media Isn’t a Trusted News Source
Misinformation and trolls have always run rampant on social media. Now, news related to the global crisis, such as vaccines and racism, is becoming twisted and manipulated too.
An article on CNET highlights how social media is framing the Black Lives Matter movement in a negative light: “Social media’s inability to contain the explosion of misinformation takes on new urgency as peaceful protesters battle the perception that all of the demonstrations have devolved into looting and violence.”
Publishers are starting to realize that building a trusted brand must be done on their own properties, away from the toxicity of social media.
4. Moderation Is Necessary
With so many trolls, anti-vaxxers and racist individuals embedded into our society right now, media companies have learned that they are key destinations for trusted news.
In fact, 87% of professionals surveyed by Reuters value news media for trusted content in a trusted environment.
But maintaining the public’s trust calls for some protective measures.
Without a proper moderation system in place to prevent racism and overall toxicity, media companies aren’t able to protect their community-building spaces. Allowing toxic conversations to exist around content, no matter how trustworthy and unbiased that content may be, can degrade the consumer’s perception of a publisher’s brand.
5. Create a Single Place for Ongoing Updates
Some media companies have started leveraging live blogs to keep consumers coming back for new information (and prevent them from relying on untrustworthy news sources).
Since live blogs allow journalists to update information as it’s happening from anywhere, people get the most accurate information as fast as possible.
Thus, media companies have come to understand that live blogs are highly useful in distributing information as quickly as possible, in any ongoing situation.
If there’s one thing that humans have come to understand from the global crisis, it’s that the world can change at a moment’s notice. These five lessons will help media companies move onwards and upwards — no matter what the world’s dealing with.