Wick Communications

Transforming the model

In Management on 30 Nov 2012 at 10:34 am


I have a pretty high tolerance for business buzz-speak when it comes to the news industry. I don’t think I’m a traditionalist or particularly afraid of new technology or new ways of conducting our business. But even I had to hold my nose to get all the way through this.

I’m glad I did.

On the one hand, it’s just a come-on for a workshop in Washington D.C. The American Press Institute and the Poynter Institute are producing a series they call “Transformation Tour.” The link outlines one of several “transformational” opportunities, this time the chance to think again about the concept of community.

You have to strip away the meaningless jargon to get the important part. The workshop promises “facilitators” to “contextualize” a “sustainable role” in our “realigned organization.” (Roll eyes here.)

At the heart of all this transformation may be the most important task of all, rethinking the word “community,” and that is the subject of the Dec. 7 workshop. I am sure we would get a lot out of the workshop, but we can begin to think of these things without leaving the office.

For example, I tend to think of the Half Moon Bay, Calif., community as geographical. It is bordered by Pescadero to the south, Montara to the north, the mighty Pacific Ocean on the west and the Santa Cruz mountains to the east. Traditionally, we cover stuff that happens within those boundaries. But it’s really not that simple.

Within Half Moon Bay there are myriad communities, most with tentacles that extend far beyond the geography. Some are fairly well defined and others rather amorphous. There is a community of knitters. Another caters to outdoor oil painters. There are surfers and roller hockey players and business people and parents and on and on. Each community within a community has its own interests and needs. …

Imagine, then, catering to the particular needs of one of those communities. Let’s consider those who walk for exercise. Now imagine what we might provide that community that it couldn’t get anywhere else. What if we had a list of trails, trail reviews, a hiking columnist, a gallery where users could upload photos from their walks, safety bulletins and more all available on a smartphone. That content might be a button on your homepage or something entirely independent.

The trick is not to push content but rather to build rapport and provide something unique to these communities that are not necessarily geographic in nature.

Incidentally, the Transformation Tour continues through next spring and includes transformative business models and content strategies.



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