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The Readership Key: Are You Ready To Innovate ?. NAA Readership Conference, April 19, 2004 John Lavine, Readership Institute Progress and Threat. 25+ year olds. 18-24 year olds. Source: Readership Institute national RBS studies. Need Insights Beyond Impact.

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The Readership Key:Are You Ready To Innovate?

NAA Readership Conference, April 19, 2004

John Lavine, Readership Institute

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Progress and Threat

25+ year olds

18-24 year olds

Source: Readership Institute national RBS studies

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Need Insights Beyond Impact

  • Success came with changes to:

    • News content

    • In-paper content promotion

    • Service

  • Scratched surface on:

    • Ad content

    • “Brand”

    • Culture

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Wednesday and Beyond

  • Wednesday

    • Discuss RI’s findings from New Readers study (52 markets)

  • After Wednesday

    • Develop new research on how to enhance ads’ impact

    • Explore web readership based on user types and their use of newspapers’ content

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Grow New Readers

  • Develop strategy to grow New Readers

    • African Americans, Hispanics, Asians, and 18 - 24 year olds are your future

      • Hispanics are one in five children today

      • Advertisers go to medium that delivers them

  • Wednesday focus on them

    • Figured out how to quantify readers’ feelings

    • Strength of research results surprised us

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Employee-Reader Connection

  • Organization

  • Engaged, reader-focused employees


Engaged new readers, higher RBS

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Key Recommendation

  • Your newspaper must build an organization that is

    • Strategically focused on readership

    • Expects continuous readership innovation

    • Rewards new readership growth

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How We Reached That Recommendation

  • What your employees told us

    • Reflects your expectations

  • Papers know where they should go

    • Clear what constitutes readiness to innovate

  • In our research

    • Few are there

    • Disconnect with leaders and staff

  • Bottom Line

    • Your job is to get them there

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New Readers: Organizational Studies

  • We analyzed input from 6,600 employees

    • All levels and every department

    • By race/ethnicity, gender, age

    • By position in newspaper

  • Then, looked at organization’s relationship to growing New Readers

  • Listen to your employees

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What Your Employees Are Saying

  • “It’s not my responsibility”

  • “We’re not encouraged to take risks”

  • “We just carry out decisions somebody else makes

  • “There’s lot of talk about input, but in end our ideas are not really valued”

  • Hallmarks of newspaper that resists change

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As leaders, they reflect your expectations

You can change their focus and actions

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What Your Employees Should Say

  • “I’m expected to know the business and take on challenging tasks”

  • “I’m expected to think differently and to innovate to win”

  • “I’m expected to take risks”

  • “I’m rewarded, even if I fail”

  • These are hallmarks of newspaper that embraces readership change

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This kind of organization is positioned to win

We need more newspapers like that

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Ideal vs. Reality

  • Newspapers know where they need to go

    • Your “ideal” organization is strongly constructive

  • In all departments

    • Newspaper is almost twice as defensive and half as constructive as you want it to be

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  • Not as constructive as you know you need to be (newspaper Ideal)

  • It’s an issue for all departments

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  • Defensive behaviors much too strong in every department

  • (Here, less is better - your ideal)

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Ideal vs. Reality for Leaders

  • Leaders across newspaper must lead / get a grip

  • They have rosier view of their organization than everyone else

  • That is dangerous for them and their newspaper

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“Ready to Innovate” Index

  • RI research has new index that measures:

    • How well managers create and communicate reader-oriented mission

    • How focused whole newspaper is on readers’ needs

    • How newspaper responds to changing market

  • Higher “readiness” scores linked with higher RBS

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“Ready To Innovate” Newspapers

  • Are more constructive, less defensive

  • Readership is higher in general and among target groups

  • Leaders share readership strategy with employees at every level

    • Involve employees in decisions that set strategy and affect them

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“Ready” Newspapers, cont.

  • Do more training and development

  • Employees are more engaged

    • Often perform above requirements

    • Help newspaper innovate to reach goals

  • Have more women and minorities

    • More women and minorities in positions of authority

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NPs best positioned to innovate

NPs least positioned to innovate

Internal Diversity Matters

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Just having “right” people won’t bring success

Must have readership strategy that informs everything your newspaper does

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Changing the Culture

  • Readership Institute research identifies 20-plus practices that are sub-par

  • Begin your efforts with top three:

    • Employee involvement

    • Hiring

    • Coaching

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Employee Involvement

  • Bring your staff into creating solutions

    • Not just execute solutions that management devises

  • Involve staff in real lives of New Readers

  • Dispel big, self-deluding myth:

    • Most newspaper employees still believe young adults will read more as they age

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Hiring and Promotion

  • Look for people with diverse backgrounds and experiences

    • They can help you connect with under-served readers

  • Do not hire or promote to decision-making positions people not committed to making readership strategy happen

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  • Require staff to learn, first-hand, about young and diverse readers’ lives and experiences

  • Make it safe for people to take risks to grow readership and to fail

    • Recognize and reward risk-taking

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Lavine’s formula

  • Adopt multi-year strategy that says”

    • “We’re going to significantly grow young adults and diverse readers”

  • Make your employees – and yourself – accountable for achieving that strategy

    • Set stretch benchmarks to get there

  • Don’t be afraid to lead

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My Thanks to You and to…

  • Mary Nesbitt

    • RI Managing Director

  • RI Team Members Present

    • Todd McCauley

    • Limor Peer

    • Regina Glaspie

  • Mike Smith

    • Media Management Center Managing Director

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Thank You

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