The content and business strategy behind DC Thomson's digital-first strategy
The Audiencers outline how to use newsletters as part of a local journalism outlet growth plan
If there is a theme in today's newsletter is how data and content strategy combine to deliver great media products. One thing that I'm doing more in my work as the consulting services director at Pugpig is helping clients use data to achieve their goals, in terms of audience and revenue growth. And this work includes how data can inform a content strategy that achieves those goals, and that kind of thinking is in this first piece about how DC Thomson has established a digital-first stance. And while a decade ago, digital first might have been applied to the publishing strategy, it now means reconfiguring the entire business including content and revenue strategies.
The focus of encouraging audiences to pay for news shifted from solely being tied to digital replicas of printed products toward true digital-first subscription products that focused on delivering our communities more value from the content the newsrooms produce.
If there is one thing that I have come to understand is that a digital subscription strategy is much more aligned with quality journalism not only at the national but also at the local level. A digital subscription or membership strategy is better aligned with delivering better journalism and higher quality journalism products, and the stable revenue also allows publishers to invest in talent as DC Thomson is doing.
And one tool in the kitbag for publishers to engage audiences has been newsletters. They can be standalone subscription products as Axios is doing in the US, or they can be part of a subscriber acquisition and retention strategy, this piece from the Audiencers at Poool has a good 6-step plan that again starts with a content strategy and then moves deeper into the thinking about how to use newsletters as part of a local news strategy.
And The Guardian has a solid piece on why it is so important to maintain a healthy local press. In the US, communities are feeling that if they lose a local news source that it is one step closer to their extinction, and with the pressures on communities, especially smaller rural communities, they are now fighting to retain some kind of local news outlet.
And as pressure increases on local publishers, they are exploring creative ways to retain their local presence. In Lancashire, a local newspaper is partnering with a local university, the University of Central Lancashire, which has long been a powerhouse in training digital leaders. It not only gives the newspaper great facilities, but it also gives them an excellent pipeline to the next generation of talent and leadership.
Today in AI
John Naughton of The Observer has a wonderful corrective to all of the hype and hand-wringing around AI. He makes a point that my wife, Suw, recently made in her newsletter that ChatGPT are better understood as large language models rather than AI. John also wants us to pay attention to the corporate winners and also the environmental impact of running all of these data centres that are needed to provide computing power to these AI services.
Having looked at how Google is constantly working to increase the efficiency and decrease the environmental impact of its data centres in my master's degree, I think he overlooks the power of data to improve environmental outcomes with data centres. It is after all not only an ESG goal for Google but also a business goal to use less resources in what it does. Check out their most recent environmental report (PDF).
That being said, Peter Bale at INMA has a point that publishers need to take into account. Their work is being used to train LLMs, and whether or not they are being properly compensated and their work properly attributed will be the next area of conflict between tech companies and publishers.
And I always keep an eye out for how creators are using new tools and formats creatively, and Mashable has a good profile of Lynae Vanee on how she uses the medium of TikTok.