As we head toward spring of 2022, many small media businesses are still struggling with the fallout of 2020-2021. We are past the early rush to adapt remote workers and new digital tools, and now need to figure out the rapid change in audience response to media products and how organizational strategy can meet reader and user demands. It’s time to move the revenue needle up, which may require continued significant rethinking around your media company. <Buckle up.>
We like this recent article from Fast Company that lays out five actions to avoid as we get past the pandemic. You can read the full article here, and we’ve summarized with media specific advice below. Consider these reactions and take them off your plate so you can move forward!
- Don’t Push Your People to “Get Back to Normal”
There is no “normal” anymore. A major shift is still occurring in how your staff works, and what they expect from you as their employer. Remote work will remain central to staff organization, and new tools will continue to be developed for communication, remote collaboration and production. Competition for employees will continue to be a huge pressure.
Do This: Work with your team to determine workflow challenges and opportunities. Identify investment areas for tools and platforms to simplify and enhance production. Create clear and simple approaches to your company culture, benefits, and feedback loops to help your employees feel empowered and cared for, which will keep (and attract) the best people committed to your company’s growth.
- Don’t Expect Customers to Want The Same As 2020
Two years of uncertainty and for some, tragic changes, have caused a tidal wave of re-evaluation in people’s lives and expectations. Some want the familiar comforts of their favorite hobbyist magazine or city & regional publication. Others found new careers and need connections and education from niche topic B2B media. Print is enjoying a resurgence, but consumption of video and short-form content is higher than ever.
Do This: Talk to your audience! Now is the time for surveys, focus groups, research, and testing. Show them that you are responding to their needs, shake up your formats, and create new processes so your team can respond quickly as new data comes in. You may just need some tweaks in content presentation, or a major overhaul in niche coverage – but getting data and feedback will allow you to respond proactively.
- Don’t Maintain Your Old Playbook
Now is the time to be open to new technologies for all areas of your company, as well as new organizational thinking and approaches. Based on the first two “Don’t” items above, sticking to your old processes may simply not be an option.
Do This: Amp up your business reading and talk to other media owners that are doing things you are curious about or admire. Most non-direct competitors will happily discuss successful vendor partnerships and organizational strategy. Your staff is a great resource as well. If employees are pushing for new tools to improve their jobs, hear them out and make an honest assessment of the benefits to your business, short- and long-term.
- Don’t Ignore the Growth of Digital
Digital growth and transformation is old news, but the last two years brought even faster development and opportunities for media companies. Digital strategy is no longer an add-on to your print magazine plan.
Do This: Assess any current digital production or content, and make decisions for hiring and investment in social media, video, and platforms that streamline processes. Again, talking to other media leaders and your team can give you a lot of leads and ideas here!
- Don’t React to Everything
The pandemic blindsided everyone, but over-reacting to any market shift or trying to anticipate any possible change can put business leaders into tailspins.
Do This: Take the time to rethink and rebuild your media company now so that you are in the best possible position to have business options and diverse revenue streams when crises happen. Instead of reacting to external forces, make your organization flexible and agile to change. Train yourself and your team to see opportunities in upheaval.
Bottom line: there is no “going back” to pre-pandemic business. Take control of your company’s future.
Photo by Isaac Smith on Unsplash