Tuesday, June 3, 2008

More ideas from Tribune's innovation chief

Lee Abrams latest:

* Two way street. Shouldn't the TV station also be prominently featured
in the Newspaper? I see NO reason why we should "assume" that people
know they are both Tribune properties.

It would be SO easy to tie it all together into a local Super brand. And that "News/Information" Super brand could be an incredible powerhouse far beyond the individual brands. The individual TV & Paper brands are intact...it's just USING each other for a much needed, competitively potent solution...with a buzzy revenue angle.

*Cross promotion. If Newspaper and TV were REALLY tied at the hip in the public's eye...imagine the cross promotion opportunity.

They'd drive readers and viewers to each other in unprecedented ways. I'm sure there are creative ways to maximize revenue through this level of interaction.

*"Oh we do that already"...I don't think anyone does this to the degree
it's noticeable to the average Joe in a big way.

*The Web: Maybe ONE supersite. More opportunities to create the superbrand. And---No doubt we will lead the revolution online...but I wonder why the TV (and other platforms) isn't tied together.

Again, I know there's discussion on this, and in South Florida, some action, but when I walk through a newsroom...and watch our TV stations, I can't help thinking we are not REALLY, REALLY going after this enormous opportunity to aggressively work together to create news/information superbrands...leverage the newspaper resources and create something very powerful. Of course every market doesn't have a TV or Newspaper partner, but the point really gets back to THINKING about maximizing the resources.

In a perfect world:

*We reinvent newspapers so they are TOTALLY 2008 and growing

*We create local news/information superbrands that maximize the
unprecedented news gathering power of the paper. Individual brands, tied together BLATANTLY,

*Together, it's untouchable.

...A lot of discussion these days about size of papers, newsprint cost,
etc....Probably not a bad thing. I'm thinking it's probably better to do
fewer things...better. Gets back to the "speed of now". Combined with
better navigation, I believe MORE people will engage with MORE content
if things are easier to find (MUCH easier)...and there's a higher
concentration of 'hit' stories.

Alongside of HIT stories are "trademarks". Those things you are known
for. I think we too often may take these things for granted...AND need
to create new generations of trademarks. Trademarks being content that
you OWN.

Take crime. WGNO-TV in New Orleans is making some nice moves in "owning" crime reporting. While the competition simply reports on crime, WGNO is going further. Here's some dialogue with GM Larry Delia:

*Based on our call, you might be able to "OWN CRIME" meaning that Crime coverage isn't just an element of your news, but when people think crime and justice, the clearly and unquestionably think WGNO. I always see how TV stations are in an arms race on weather graphics, yet with crime (every survey I see shows how important it is), it's still "Eastside Man killed in shooting" generic coverage. It's one of those things where it seems NO one is stepping out and CLAIMING crime coverage as a station trademark.

*I think the Wheel is good. But you might want to balance the game show aspect of it with the establishment of THE WGNO CRIME BUREAU which I think Ed mentioned. The combination of the snappy Wheel and the gritty Bureau could be the 1-2 punch that sets you up to own Crime. Picture:

A concrete kind of room. If you could smell the TV, you'd smell cigar
smoke and the dank atmosphere of a big city detective bureau.

It's about CRIME FIGHTING not high tech glitz or fashion. 180 degrees from the slick set.

During the newscast you "switch" to the Crime Bureau. There you have an ex-N.O. cop type whose "seen it all"---rough at the edges. Gravy stains on his shirt. It's all about crime not "look". In this room, the ex Cop crime expert reports on the crimes...SHOWS weapons (Here's the home burglar's weapon of choice...)...tells stories (Back in 82 I busted some guy....). Has "insights" as in 'ok folks, its Thursday tomorrow--historically, carjackings will be up 40%---Lock your car door'. He has maps and charts and other old school non-slick visual aids.

The idea is to create something incredibly real and credible. Deliberately NOT too polished. Makes the typical local crime reporting on the competitors look silly. If typical sick TV crime reporting is the clean cut old Dragnet--this is Law & Order.

If you find the right guy, he could become a folk hero.

Then...on the Web! The balance of:

*The Crime bureau
*A crime busters info paradise with pages and pages of crime stats, trends etc...

The magic of this is that it's an important area and NO-ONE is stepping
out an claiming it. ...the point is instead of "assuming" you are known for crime coverage---go a little crazy with it--and definitely OWN it to where its coverage isn't just an element of your content...but it's a TRADEMARK.

...then use that 2x4 to get the word out....and ALWAYS over deliver the

Here's another comment I've received relative to classifieds:

I just got back from a trip to the U.K. last week.

I was struck by the "classified" section in the Manchester newspaper.
It was VERY colorful, lots of font sizes, ad sizes. (As you said in the think piece, "flea market like")

It looked like they let the advertisers get as creative as possible. On the one hand, it was ugly like a flea market... BUT... It was interesting. I found myself looking through the ads just to see what was there. (Unfortunately, I forgot it on the airplane home.)

Our "classified" sections are conservative, consistent and generally boring... The fact that they are so consistent, makes them hard to read and hard to scan.

While I'm on the subject... I think we should introduce "personals"
back to the classified. Maybe even make them free. They make a great "loss leader".

I find that I read the personals in the "Chicago Reader" and "Milwaukee Shepard Express", not because I'm looking for someone, but because they're so "far out" that they're fun and interesting.

Of course, while I'm there, you've drawn me in to the rest of the ads and I might see something interesting that I would buy. Maybe you would even try spreading the personal ads throughout the rest of the classifieds to get people looking.

If we want some interesting newspaper ideas, I'd also encourage you to
get copies of as many European newspapers as you can. There are a lot
more newspapers in Europe in most cities than in the U.S., which has
increased competition and innovation (relative to 1-2 per U.S. city).

I spend a lot of time in Europe and have seen quite a few interesting and
innovative ideas in their papers. ...We have the talent....we have the vision...NOW---we just gotta AGGRESSIVELY and WITH GREAT PASSION---AFDI.

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