How to cure your brand: a clinic case presentation

September 28, 2012 by  

(picture by Brie Logsdon)

In the second session on day 2 of the INMA European conference 2012 in Hague, the case of a (fictional) traditional newspaper company, The News, in dire straits was presented. The speakers had to address to the specific case, and, basing on their experience, to think about a plan of how to turn this newspaper company into a modern and healthy newsmedia company.

Despite being anonymous, the case of the fictional newspaper “The News” was close to the situation of many newspapers nowadays. It had many brothers and sisters (other acquired titles and webservices), working hard to satisfy the shareholders (who love money most). It’s got 10 local editions. It’s a newspaper with 3 million readers, and 120.000 circulation. The circulation dropped by 5% since last year. The income comes from traditional advertising (35%), digital advertising (5%) and the rest from subscriptions.

Carsten Erdmann (picture by Brie Logsdon)

The first one to speak was Carsten Erdmann, Editor in Chief, Berliner Morgenpost. Basing on his experience, he spoke about the matter of content and choosing it wisely for the right platform. It is the real challenge.

Axel Springer is the leading European publishing house in Europe – on good way to have a 50/50 split of income coming from print and digital. Carsten’s ideas for “The News” newspaper were:

  • digital revenues are only 5% means too little attention to digital. All content should be put on all platforms. There are different audiences on different platforms,
  • that’s why it’s important to be everywhere. It’s impossible to forget that smartphone and tablets are becoming mass markets
  • synergy is crucial. Maximum synergy over all editorial offices on all platforms.
  • don’t give the content away for free. Axel Springer believes in paid content

Axel Springer developed a new strategy last year. 5 years ago it was online first. Now it’s taking the next step: online to print. New structure is content orientated. They made it possible thanks to the common system on all platforms.

The strategic focuses are:

  • Digital- online, mobile, tablet. They believe digital can compensate for the losses in print. Welt online is growing well.
  • Weekend in print. Online is booming but print is still important. Newspaper of the future will be a weekend newspaper according to ASP
  • Berlin regional market also in print. They are successful despite paywall. They launched a paywall in 2009. Trust in daily newspapers is quite high, what helps selling
  • the content.

Recommendations as a wrap-up:

  • all content on all platforms.
  • synergising editorial offices
  • don’t throw the content away for free – paid content is the future of quality journalism


Steven Van Belleghem (picture by Brie Logsdon)

Second clinician for “The News” newspaper was Steven Van Belleghem, Insites, Belgium. Steven gave inspiration for building the portfolio around communities. According to the speaker, it’s not really about social media. It won’t bring money that fast, but it can help. What matters more is the power of word-of-mouth marketing. Conversation is the driver of revenue growth. Many publishers agree with it, but not many know how to do that. This potential is unused.

Publishers are facing the challenge to move from co-creation to collaboration. They should use the power of the people – not only from the organisation but also from the outside.

Structural collaboration should be based on:

  • Content
  • customer experience
  • broad open collaboration
  • consumer consulting board

Publishers should attempt to manage the conversation. Listen what people are saying about the brand and join the conversation. They should:

  • Create engaging and shareable digital content
  • Make journalists join the conversation (comments, forums)
  • Crowdsouce regional news
  • Use readers as consultants: small communities, blogs, etc.

Success for publishers lies in the right market behavior. As managers, they should observe. As a brand they should facilitate. As a peer they should join the conversation.

Diving into the community by joining the conversation is essential. Consumers are the most valuable consultants. They can be turned into employees without being put on the payroll. They can become the ambassadors of the brand.


Frederic Filloux (picture by Brie Logsdon)

The third speaker was Frédéric Filloux, Managing Director Digital Operations, L’Echo and Author of The Monday Note, France. This clinician is the evangelist of
reinventing companies from the scratch. His question was why brands such as Flipboard, Zite, News360, Pulse aren’t created by media companies but by startups?

According to Frederic, the culture change is necessary: the shift from user culture to customer culture is required in the press and media. We are facing customers using internet on the daily business. They are becoming extremely demanding. The following shifts are to be considered:

  • shift from quiet dominance to competition (for attention, wallets and market share)
  • shift from entitlement culture to the culture of earnings (we no longer own our readers)
  • shift from static to dynamic – speed and adaptation are the key. Making prototypes, testing things.
  • shift from security to instability. We are facing extremely changing market. Environment change can be brutal. Publishers have to be prepared to adjust.

How to get there:
1. training staff (specific and management skills)
2. empowering people (Direct Responsible Individuals – people have to be accountable and responsible for what has to be done)
3. encouraging experimentation
4. instiling a sense of urgency (and mortality). People inside the companies have to be aware they are mortal
5. identifying agents of change
6. getting inspiration from elsewhere (we need to work on benchmarks, best practices etc.)

When it comes to knowing their customers, media companies lag way behind digital ones.

At Les Echo Frederic is working on readers’ profile. They have two goals: increasing stickiness, and raising ads yield. They are trying to achieve it by:

  • tracking every move of the readers
  • idea is to create clusters and segmentation
  • refining profiles with extreme granularity
  • combining with the CRM data
  • that way: more relevant contents -> more pvs / reader
  • better ad targeting -> higher CPMs


Stefan Wiemann (picture by Brie Logsdon)

Stefan Wiemann, Creative Director, Axel Springer, Germany was the fourth clinician. By giving 10 creative ideas from Axel Springer (7 from print, 3 from digital) activities, he proved that right activities and correct usage of platforms, can bring great success for the publishers.

10 examples of successful Axel Springer special print and digital ideas over the last years (7 print, 3 digital):

  1. BILD am Feiertag – special print edition on a german national day. Started 2008 on October 3rd. The only newspaper in newsstads sold on the holiday day. Circulation is 1,2 mill copies, exclusively sold to Volkswagen.
  2. 3D Bild – completely in 3D, with 5,5 milion glasses distributed with the newspaper. All content and ads were in 3D. The ad prices were set 10% up above the average. They made 2,7 million Euro in advertising, and the advertising space was completetly sold out
  3. Bild XXL – published in 2011 it was the biggest daily newspaper ever, twice as high of normal issue (77,7 cm high). Ad prices were 30% above average what brought 3,7 million Euro in ad revenues. Entry in Guiness Book of Records
  4. Bild for all. For 60th anniversary a free copy for every German household was distributed. 41 million copies, highest circulation ever. Axel Springer had to start to print it 3 months before. The ad prices were 1000% above averages, and brought 37 million Euro ad revenue.
  5. Die Welt artist edition – special edition in 2010 produced by artist. All graphics designed by artists. It became an exclusive edition for collectors . Reached new target groups.
  6. Computer Bild – full cover. Full cover advertisement, with ad price 36% above average.
  7. Auto Bild – special advertising format
  8. Panasonic digital adreportage award 2012. Readers and users sent in digital reportage. 30 finalists chosen. 650.000 Euro ad revenue.
  9. Welt Dialog 2012 – cooperation with e-Post. Interaction of online users with customer experts. 600 questions posted and answered by specialist. All platforms were used
  10. Faces of Israel – cooperation with the Israel Ministry in Tourism. Search couples in Germany as Travel-Ambassadors for Israel. Ad revenue was 2,2 mill Euro. Over 350 couples sent their applications. It was the first 360 degree campaign : not only all platforms but also market research, social media, tv ads, and others.


Marc Vangeel (picture by Brie Logsdon)

The last speaker, Marc Vangeel, CEO Concentra, Belgium proved how important a workplace is to publisher and journalists. “Gazet van Antwerpen” implemented an activity based workplace. It’s a new media house for a new era.
Some of the necessary changes that were implemented:

  • open areas, lots of lights and space
  • improved communication inside and around the building – stimulates informal meetings and so on
  • editorial office has now the central position – major objective
  • 1000 sq. meter open space
  • a view on the world with glass facades as an open house for residents of Antwerp
  • the screens are everywhere to let people follow news all the time – it’s a reminder to everyone of what multimedia world is
  • the newsroom is no longer exclusive territory for journalists. There are no separate offices for editor-in-chief nor anyone else.

Major changes inside the new newsroom:

  • creative cross-fertilisation
  • multidisciplinary teams for improved cooperation
  • noone works for one platform only
  • working in a multimedia way.

Certain amount of privacy is necessary though. There are meeting rooms, rooms for reading documents or phone calls. The company policy requires to have a clean desk and respect. There is no stable working place – anyone can change their working place every day.



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