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Earl Wilkinson: Media outlook for 2013

Earl Wilkinson

As executive director of the International News Media Association, Earl Wilkinson is constantly on the road, learning and sharing insights about our industry. This year’s annual outlook report is informed by INMA membership in 81 countries. Earl shared his observations as the keynote speaker for the Key Executives Mega-Conference produced by the Southern Newspaper Publishers Associaiton, Local Media Association and Inland Press Association. Some notes and highlights:

There remains a cultural civil war — print vs digital — that is draining our energy, attention, resources and ability to meet our challenges. … while we all search for new strategies, we’ve learned that culture trumps strategy every time. (The very direct implication is that we must change our culture).

We need to re-order the news industry to new expectations of consumers and advertisers. Where do you fit into their expectations?

Our touchstones of journalism, trust, our role in democracy does NOT connect with consumers; those are a reflection of you. It’s not about us, it’s about them … Our marketing of ourselves is not effective, it’s spinach marketing.

A word about scale: I don’t know of anybody in this room that can do it (face our future, meet our challenges) by themselves. It’s all about scale, scale, scale. Collaboration. How good are you at collaborating beyond your building?

Some observations from Earl

Top search terms on the INMA website:

  1. Social media
  2. Ad effectiveness
  3. Ad sales
  4. 3 top opportunities for 2013:
    • Video
    • Second-wave mobile
    • Revenue diversification

    3 top issues for 2013:

    • Identifying growth
    • Being more relevant
    • Managing complexity

    2 goals for 2013:

    • Manage print for profit
    • Manage digital for growth

    2 questions to answer:

    • How to fill revenue hole left by declining print advertising
    • How to maintain relevance (Earl suggests the news industry look at the Netflix model: buy once, consume over many platforms)


    • Accelerate digital change, digitial competencies, multiplatform.
    • From Amazon’s Jeff Bezos: Base strategy on things that won’t change.
    • Your relationship with readers and advertisers must transcend platforms, products.
    • Market brands over products. Brand trumps product lines and platforms.
    • Strive for ubiquity, value added content and service, membership (over subscription). Print is just another screen.
    • Smartphones will grow your numbers: Very soon 50 percent of web traffic will come from smartphones.
    • Tablets are all about the experience: Make it a great experience.
    • Mobile news users more likely to read legacy news brands.

    The old model:

    • Speaking truth to power.
    • Expanding access to truth.
    • Monetizing that access.


    • How to de-link print & words
    • Retain perceived value regardless of shell

    Our reinvention will require:

    • Flexibility of the business model.
    • Speed of execution, decision making.
    • Going in the direction of how people consume us (RJI)
    Related items
    Digital agency insights from local media innovators

About Zoran Opalic

Professional in design and publishing industry. Conceptualize and orchestrate designs and redesigns that effectively reinforce and build brand images. Proven ability to drive record-high campaign in increasing publication sales and execute successful product launches...


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