Over the last seven years the Telegraph Media Group has been transformed from an old-fashioned newspaper operation that was demoralised and in decline into a commercially successful multimedia business that is at the cutting edge of leading news organisations.
Key to this success has been a relentless focus on our customers – readers, viewers, advertisers and commercial partners. For all of them, we seek to make sense of the barrage of information sources that characterise the new media world, and we help them use and understand these sources to their own advantage. Their needs are our top priority.
But there is more, much more, to do. With the long-term decline in print circulation and advertising, we need now to look to the next stage of our development. Every day audiences and revenues fracture further as new outlets for news are established. The upshot is that at some point – I don’t know when but it will happen – print is going to cost more money than it is worth. We, along with all other publishers, must have a new, viable business model in place to ensure the survival of quality journalism.
We are constantly transforming and have long since stopped thinking of ourselves as just “newspaper people” so that we are flexible enough to publish across multiple platforms, whatever shape they may take in the future.
This means rethinking our skill sets in all areas of the business. Journalists in particular will have a previously undreamed of wealth of data at their fingertips to inform their opinions and, ultimately, editorial decisions. And there will be tools available that will predict how a story will play, and real-time analytics will provide an up-to-the-second understanding of what readers and viewers are thinking and feeling. We must seize upon opportunities presented by social media to engage with readers directly and bring this conversation into the heart of the newsroom.
Digital technology provides publishers with a fantastic canvas which we will use to improve our storytelling so that we continue to inform, delight and surprise our readers, and so that we can help our advertisers connect with our audience in innovative ways.
In order to prepare for this exciting future, there will need to be commercial changes, too. Our digital sales need to be focused and priced correctly. We need to determine our advertising pricing strategy to reflect our improved knowledge of our customer base. We must be quick to get a presence on new platforms so that there can be a Telegraph experience on whatever technology our customers choose. And that means simplifying our processes to remove the barriers to imagination and enterprise.
Into the future, the big question for us all will be this: are we nimble enough to meet our customers’ demands? And the answer will depend not just on our technological expertise, but on the quality of our content-creators and, above all, on our understanding of the nuances of an increasingly sophisticated market.
We must continue to play to our strengths. Telegraph experiences of the future will strive to emulate our proud history of breaking news, investigations and first rate commentary with the added convenience, interaction and insight that digital offers. Newspapers, only better.