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Developing a Multiple Business Model Strategy

A recent report about the global newspaper industry published by Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC), and aptly titled "Moving Into Multiple Business Models," identifies the key questions newspaper execs should be asking themselves in these troubled times.

  • Is your brand identity clear - both internally and externally - and focused on what differentiates you from your competitors?
  • Are print and new media run as separate operations or as simply two different distribution mechanisms for the same core activity?
  • Do you have an integrated paper and online advertising sales team?
  • Are you using online to extend your core audience beyond the traditional print readership?
  • Will video journalism and print journalism co-exist online?
  • What does your audience want from you - and do you know what they will pay for?
  • Can areas of non-differentiation be outsourced?
  • Have you identified non-core activities that should be downsized or stopped?
  • Are you investing today with a clear view of the payback on that capital allocation?
  • How will you deal with the cultural aspects of change so as to maximize quality and minimize inefficiencies?
  • Have you maximized the mass-market nature of your total readership (print and online) in discussions with advertisers?
  • What sort of business will you be running in five years' time?
In my conversations with people inside numerous U.S. newspaper companies recently, I've heard some of these issues discussed, but not most of them. For example, too many metro dailies still keep their print and online operations separate -- not a good idea.

Integrated ad sales teams, a multimedia content (and advertising) strategy, outsourcing generic aspects of the operation, and effective brand management are never near the top of the strategy discussions I've been part of, though that doesn't necessarily mean that industry execs aren't aware of them.

The one question every U.S. newspaper company has addressed repeatedly is downsizing. But the PWC list is a reminder that papers have many other avenues to pursue besides cutting staff if they want to survive the transition to tghe new media age.

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