In online journalism, what's the transaction? A primer for publishers, bloggers, journalists, and content creators.
Publishing's strength has shifted from the media elite to the masses. It began in the late '90s with sites like GeoCities. In 2005, we witnessed the explosive emergence of the blogosphere. And in 2006, video and social Web sites drew the attention.
Today, anyone with a browser and a digital camera can be a publisher.
This is hardly a groundbreaking revelation, but as our digital society evolves, publishers find themselves in seemingly new territory and asking new questions. One question from a friend who works for a major publisher got us thinking about the differences between merchandising and journalism:
In journalism, what's the sales transaction?
To be a profitable journalist and publisher in today's climate means overcoming the same hurdles as your counterparts in merchandising and marketing. It's all about earning trust, credibility, interest, usability, and relevance. Just because you aren't peddling a shiny new product or service doesn't mean you don't have to persuade. A sale certainly does take place.
The best way to think about the journalism sales transaction is to break it down into four significantly overlapping categories: journalist to reader, publisher to reader, publisher to advertiser, and advertiser to reader.
If you were to look at this as a Venn diagram (define), the overlap would be visible.
A fifth category may be journalist to publisher. This relationship's significance has grown parallel to the usability of the tools the average joe needs to publish. GeoCities made it easy to put up a Web site, YouTube made it easy to upload videos, and Flickr made it easy to upload photos. These publishers rely on the content amateurs post to build traffic and attract new "journalists." Although a successful relationship is largely about usability and viral popularity, publishers will soon have to better serve everyman journalists and maintain the relationship by providing differentiating benefits.
Bottom line: Journalist, publishers, and readers aren't all that different from sellers, advertisers, and buyers. They're all people with needs, motivations, and preferences. They're people who must be persuaded to take action. The same basic issues permeate product, service, and journalistic transactions. Understanding this, along with planning persuasion scenarios, is the key to more profitable online publishing.
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Bryan Eisenberg is coauthor of the Wall Street Journal, Amazon, BusinessWeek, and New York Times bestselling books "Call to Action," "Waiting For Your Cat to Bark?," and "Always Be Testing." Bryan is a professional marketing speaker and has keynoted conferences globally such as SES, Shop.org, Direct Marketing Association, MarketingSherpa, Econsultancy, Webcom, SEM Konferansen Norway, the Canadian Marketing Association, and others. In 2010, Bryan was named a winner of the Direct Marketing Educational Foundation's Rising Stars Awards, which recognizes the most talented professionals 40 years of age or younger in the field of direct/interactive marketing. He is also cofounder and chairman emeritus of the Web Analytics Association. Bryan serves as an advisory board member of SES Conference & Expo, the eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summit, and several venture capital backed companies. He works with his coauthor and brother Jeffrey Eisenberg. You can find them at BryanEisenberg.com.
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