The NY Times has a “Head of Audience Strategy.” Her job description captures a lot of what I work on in my consultancy. So, sure, I’m saying they’re “Doing It Right.”
Every week, the Times runs a profile of a staffer and how they use technology. A few weeks ago, it profiled Jodi Rudoren, Head of Audience Strategy. In the course of talking to her, she laid out some of the MANY reasons why the Times lives fully in the digital world.
To begin with, the Times does not limit “Audience Strategy” to marketing. Their Audience Strategist is charged with fully engaging with the Times’ audience everywhere.
- Making the Times part of their audience’s daily lives.
- Getting the audience addicted to the Times’ journalism.
- Making the Times “work better” for its journalists and its audience.
- Reimagining the Times and how / when / where its core values can live.
I can’t imagine that any company, MediaCo or not, wouldn’t want to have people working on those challenges.
By combining the core values of the Times with data and new technology, the company has created some of the most innovative new products in media;
- The Daily. Over a million people listen to more than half of these podcasts, which began with the question “What does the Times sound like?”
- NY Times Video. A standard-setter for years, the result of their expertise in new video journalism can be seen on Showtime’s “The Weekly.”
- Newsletters. Old fashioned e-mail suits the Times demo just fine, and is wildly successful in catching readers up all day long.
- Search. An entire team works to make the Times relevant to users at the moment they most need the Times.
- Off-Platform. The Times events bring a human, face-to-face component to the business. (If the internet has done anything, it’s made face-to-face more valuable. Ask any musician.)
- Expanding audiences. Once you ditch the limits of a “dead tree” publication, you can follow your audience where the data leads you. Right now, that’s California.
Some of the things Jodi is doing would be anathema to old-school media people and journalists, including offering editorial guidance based on audience data and using search queries to point to areas the Times’ journalists should be covering. (“They’re our people,” Jodi says, “They just don’t know it yet.”)
In the end, Jodi talks about one of her favorite pieces of kitchen technology, her OXO Avocado slicer. There’s a device with superpowers (including its thick black handle!).
I have a long career spanning almost every kind of media, from long-form to short-form digital. I think a lot about what it’s like to work creatively today and how to manage creatives. Often, I “think out loud” on this blog. Everything I write here is a “work in progress.” I’d love to hear your take; Please leave a comment below.