The Fable of The Guardian and the Three Little Pigs

In this post I want to briefly address the way technology has changed the way news are created, consumed and shared and how a brand like the Guardian has decided to use this opportunity to destroy preconceptions and place itself at the forefront of this change.

 

To begin with, lets lay out the two main business challenges for newspapers in the technological age (they both start with “L” but none are Lady Gaga):

1)  Leakage 2) Leveraging of social channels.

1) Newspapers are migrating readers from one platform (paper) to another (bytes), and there is risk that in the process of “moving house”, readers might choose to change to another news provider altogether. This is especially true of quality newspapers, the likes of the Guardian, the FT, etc. which tend to have a high concentration of ABC1 target readers. These are readers who are likely to own and use several digital devices (tablets, smartphones and the likes).

2) Another challenge for Newspapers is to remind readers (and non-readers) that whilst they can now be informed through social channels exclusively, they will not find a better place to do so than the newspapers themselves. Here it is more a matter of brain over brawns as News providers will need to use social to their advantage, as a complement to traditional reporting, increasing reader utility. Mintel’s research for their February 2012 report shows that people who use Twitter at least once a day are more likely than average to be daily newspaper readers and significantly more likely than average to be readers of quality titles. This suggests that Twitter might be a good tool to lure these quality readers. Facebook is also useful in that it is visited more on a daily basis than Twitter.

These two challenges have been confronted in the new the Guardian campaign, by BBH. Through the below execution they have reinforced the quality of the Guardian offer (anti-leakage measures!) as well as reminding consumers that the Guardian embraces de social ecosystem to its full extent (pro social!).

The core communication strategic framework in this campaign is built around the Open Journalism concept. This is similar to citizen journalism, participatory, crowd-sourced, you name it. Blogger, Tumblr,Twitter, Facebook, Wikinews, Paper.ly, Gawker, Huffington Post… have all helped this new form of news breaking and distribution take shape.

What are the characteristics of Open Journalism?

Speed for sureas its reactive nature does not wait for reviews, corrections, printers… it is ready on the go, wherever, whenever. It is fluid. Another characteristic of Open Journalism, is that it leaves no angle uncovered. Open journalism is boundless by nature, as anyone can help fill in the gaps. Anyone can contribute to the development of a news piece, whether with objective facts or passionate opinions.

Detractors of this new form of news publishing argue that news loses quality and rigor. That not everyone is fit to contribute to a news story (a “camel is a horse made by committee” and this applies to news as well). I agree that an “anything goes” approach to Open Journalism can only lead to a weakened news ecosystem overall, but this is where the role of the newspapers in this new environment is a key one.

Their task is one of maintaining relevance irrespective of the platform they appear in. Newspapers have to be the torch-bearers in all of this open participation. Not just moderators, but activators, innovators in the News space. They must lead conversations, educate opinions and complete facts. They must provide a 360 view of the news.

Jerry Seinfeld once said: “It’s amazing that the amount of news that happens in the world every day always just exactly fits the newspaper”. With technology this has changed. Now the space is unlimited, and the newspaper´s opportunity lies in not only providing the framework for the news to develop, but also provide the leadership and innovation for the news to breathe and grow beyond the newspaper. Quality newspapers like the Guardian need to provide breadth and depth of perspective (under their own point of view which should never be eroded).

This has been the road chosen by BBH in their above campaign. The concept is built around this premise of curated broad perspective (verbalized through the line “The Whole Picture”) where the Guardian is the container through which the whole news story is born, and through which the story grows through individuals direct participation.

The role of the Guardian brand is played out in a subtle but clear manner, and the execution shows the multiplatform possibilities (Webpage, twitter, iPad, laptop, etc.) , with the Guardian as the activator/facilitator.

It is a real product demo done in style, where the demo is secondary to the real protagonists: the people who consume news and enrich the news process through their participation. The spot shows empowerment first as a category insight, and functionality and quality second, in the Guardian multiplatform demonstration.

My sincere congratulations to the Guardian team (Alan Rusbridger its editor foremost), for evolving their product into what it is today. Examples like these seem like a step forwards and upwards and have no doubt ignited the creative process with powerful Reasons To Believe.

  • Recently launching a Facebook app that has rightfully gathered 4.200.000 monthly followers.
  • Developing interactive graphs (like this one on the Arab Spring) that is well documented and well executed which also seems like a confident step forwards and upwards.
  • Encouraging both public and experts to contribute alongside journalists
  • Open access to data

Congratulations also to the BBH people (DavidKolbusz in Creativity and Griffin Farley in Strategy amongst others from what I read), for accepting the challenge of portraying Open Journalism through the Guardian brand, and delivering highly on it. The spot is so complete in detail that I find it gets better with every viewing (and I´m secretly hoping for more versions: Little Red Riding Hood and Deforestation? Sleeping Beauty and Prescription Medicines? Hansel and Gretel and Adoption?)

And now for YOUR Collaboration/participation. What did you guys think of the Campaign? How do you think Newspapers should adapt to technology and consumer empowerment?

Thanks for reading and take care amigos,

Hector

(post finished to the tune of “Try” , by ALO)

 

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