Embracing Digital Disruption in the Newspaper Industry

Social Business |

Interview with Tampa Bay Times

Recently I guest hosted on the Malcolm Outloud digital TV show to discuss the social business journey underway at the Tampa Bay Times. My guests were Maryann Balbo and Amber McDonald. Together Maryann and Amber represent change agents in the Tampa Bay Times’ journey to re-imagine their business. Their story provides inspiration to any business who needs to embrace digital disruption for positive business outcomes.

Media Company Not a Newspaper

The Tampa Bay Times (formerly the St. Petersburg Times) is a Pulitzer Prize winning newspaper. The newspaper ranks in the top 15 in the U.S. and #1 in the entire south east. Over the past (approximate) two years, the organization has been undergoing a reinvention process. Recognizing the impact of digital disruption on the consumption of content by consumers, as well as the impact to the bottom line of other newspapers around the U.S. the organization set out to re-imagine their business. Fortunately, they don’t see themselves as just a newspaper. They see themselves as a media company responsible for delivering content through whatever channel their consumer wants. With this mindset, they set out to recreate the entire digital experience.

Two Way Engagement of Primary Importance

To their credit, the Tampa Bay Times set out to create an experience that enables engagement between TBT and the consumer. The newspaper industry has traditionally been a one way delivery of content through print, with limited opportunity for consumers to engage with the media company or with other consumers. The new Tampa Bay Times digital experience provides consumers ample opportunity to engage with TBT on articles and videos through any digital medium including their website and through popular social media channels including Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, InstagramGoogle+ and YouTube. The primary emphasis is to deliver content through a diverse mix of digital and print content to allow consumers to experience their content where and how they want.

On a Social Business Journey

I asked Maryann and Amber to describe their social business journey and they both responded that they are very much still on the journey. They spoke of the importance of experimenting with content and social media channels to gauge what is received well and not. They admit that for some TBT employees the journey has been outside their comfort zone. But, the organization recognizes this and is providing the tools and education for staffers to adapt to the digital revolution. Additionally, TBT has brought in new talent to make the leap from the traditional newspaper industry to the digital media industry. In fact, both Maryann and Amber are examples of new talent at TBT making their mark on this chapter in the organization’s history.

Local Community Services Vision

I asked Maryann and Amber to define success on this social business journey and they both prioritized consumer engagement. They want the consumer to find anything needed in their local community ranging from news, things to do and products and services. They even want to provide the consumer the ability to transact with local businesses. Additionally, their vision includes providing more services to local businesses in order to provide businesses more reach to the local consumer. They already provide social media marketing services for local businesses. In the future, they want to provide even more services that makes the Tampa Bay Times a strategic partner to local businesses with a full suite of offerings that strengthens ties between the local consumer and local businesses.

Below is the entire 13 minute interview. I invite you to watch it and leave your thoughts in the comments below.


Stay Tuned for My New Social Business Show

This interview with the Tampa Bay Times is sort of a pilot for my new forthcoming digital TV show! I’m partnering with Malcolm Outloud TV to launch this show on the forthcoming Outloud Network, which will be a digital only TV network. The show will bring more inspiring stories like this one. My new show will launch this spring so stay tuned. In the meantime, I’m building my list of guests and potential sponsors. If you want to recommend either, feel free.




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