Follow-ups on Revenue 2.0 (#rev2oh)

Where have the last few weeks gone? Where? If you’re interested in the Rev 2.0 project, here are some of the post-event links I’ve been collecting. Reaction and feedback within USAT have been good as well.

–Visual Editors’ Charles Apple talks to six of us (including Big Shiny’s Kristen and Furlough Houseswap Yuri) about our event takeaways, the industry’s hurdles and tweeting love. One of Steve Dorsey’s lines is my favorite: “One of the coolest things that happened Saturday was there were no ranks or titles, no time for egos — just ideas and prototyping. Concepts survived based on their relevancy and function alone.”

Nieman Journalism Lab blog: “Will all of these suggestions work? Likely not. But if they get some newspapers thinking about practical changes they can make, instead of grieving over the good old days, then they will have achieved something worthwhile.” (Link via Matt.)

LAT: “A continued contraction of our business seems inevitable, but I’d guess enough advertising will be found to propel a good dose of general interest news gathering into a new era. We need some clever and energetic advertising executives to help figure it out, I’ll admit. Though it sure was a lot more fun in those monopoly days, when we could afford to believe that only ‘goons’ worried about making a buck.”

–Homepage team’s Chrys Wu puts it well, “Less chat, more splat.”

–Greg Linch of CoPress looks at how the lessons can apply at college publications and nails it in his lede: “College news organizations needs to move beyond advertising. Now.” If you’ve never heard of CoPress, its mission is good. “CoPress is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing college news outlets with the technical resources they need to achieve sustainability online,” the About page begins. You can learn more details and reasoning here, and the disinterested near-monopoly CoPress is fighting deserves it. I don’t want to get deep into College Publisher’s destructive effects on college papers’ digital initiatives, but when you have two hours, let me know. Or read this CoPress post.

–If you haven’t seen them, Rev 2.0 strategies and demos are here.

Day after Revenue 2.0 #rev2oh

condemned-apartments

It’s amazing what a bowl of chicken noodle soup and nine hours of sleep can do for a body. This morning is the first time in a week I feel like I’ve taken my foot off the gas at home or at work, and the orange juice is tasting good. Also good? Yesterday’s work at Rev 2.0.

The organizers, Matt Mansfield and Alan Jacobson, are gathering the produced materials for posting on the project’s site tomorrow, but you can get a pretty accurate idea of the work from the #rev2oh feed. I think people are going to like the day’s results: on the classified front, finding Craigslist simplicity but then upselling around design; with advertising, bringing out the narrative of the deal and the potential of local reputation services; with homepages, leaning more minimal to push people inside and simultaneously make the advertising more noticeable and respectable; and with mobile, charging for technology more than content. For the newspaper industry, whether it’s looking at the strategies or smaller pieces here, all the work heads to relatively unexplored directions but retains a what-can-we-do-now mentality. 

As much as I think the industry should consider these concepts, I hope it grabs onto the project’s approaches even more. My three favorites:

1. How to make money to save papers is not someone else’s problem. Yesterday’s group was not especially well-known, high-ranking or biz-savvy. I was in the group because I’ve drank beer with a bunch of the people, can hang with the different angles of the conversation and repeatedly thrown crazy ideas at them. If you’re an editor above me (and there are lots of you) and wondering “what the hell,” you need to drink more beer, have more conversations and produce more crazy. But more importantly, you’re missing the point. Yesterday’s event was just one stab, with so-and-so people from such-and-such perspective. Nothing’s stopping you from bringing together good people, tossing ambitious goals on the table and sharing what happens. 

2. We have to treat advertising as content, and misinterpreting what that means is a ridiculous waste of time. Ethics are ethics, and money shouldn’t affect editorial content. If you can’t assume that, you win the hand-wringing contest and lose in everything else.  The industry has to move storytelling techniques, interface design, content tools, and Web fundamentals across its divisions if we’re going to chase business as aggressively and creatively as we chase readership. As one participant pointed out yesterday, even with the economy the way it is, there’s plenty of potential money out there that we’re not getting. We have to be more compelling — journalistically compelling — in seeking business. If we had started anywhere else yesterday, like a position of worry, we wouldn’t have gotten nearly as far as we did. Labeling an ad as an ad is easy. Coming up with a better ad or system is critical.

3. Futurism isn’t the only way to the future. I mentioned fundamentals in the previous item, and how much they were in practice in the room yesterday shouldn’t be overlooked. The partipicants were equal parts aware, critical and seeking of newspaper workings, digital possibilities and themselves. In blind spots, they listened to understand and built from there. Futurism, like editorial responsibility, was assumed — with much to be done on the way there. Newsrooms have been awful at this kind of practice, sweating the small stuff quickly and productively, and yesterday showed big promise for expectations of leadership. If your newsroom leaders aren’t aware, critical and seeking throughout their roles, they need to change or you need to change them.

May post more thoughts when the wrap-ups appear online. Thanks so much to Matt and Alan for organizing (and pizza and drinks) and to the Medill News Service bureau for hosting. Thanks to USAT/Gannett Digital friends Mary, Carlos, Kristen, Wes, Yuri, Bill, and Kathleen for putting up with my hangover from hell. Thank you too to Advil and time.

In our deals group, glad to have met Jay Small, whose Small Initiatives e-mail newsletter I read for years after graduating, and Chris Krewson, whose Philly work I’ve read about a ton. Also glad to have contributed the deal scarcity concept, which built off Chris’ release-day approach and then received brainstorming from him and others in our group in a way that made it matter. It was great to meet plenty of other folks as well, especially those who stuck green Post-its on everybody’s heads. I’m condemned apartments. The mobile team’s wrap-up may explain.