Journalists need to embrace the mobile platform because it is the way of the future, according to Mark Challinor, president of International News Media Association and CEO of Media Futures.
Mr Challinor will speak at the Future Forum, hosted by The Newspaper Works, in September. The event will bring together an international line-up of speakers, who will talk about the need to influence a connected world.
At his session, Mr Challinor will talk about the increasingly connected environment that our society is now in.
For newsrooms to successfully embrace mobile, they need to have a better understanding of what mobile is, said Mr Challinor.
Is it a device, such as a phone or tablet, or a connection like wi-fi, or is it a behaviour, he asks.
“Maybe mobile is a behaviour that is done through a connection on a device. If we think in these terms, we start to see the space in a new light, in terms of how and when news is being consumed,” he said.
The mobile platform is one that requires a lot of creativity, according to Mr Challinor.
“Creativity is crucial in mobile. It’s an environment where average is awful. Apple raised the bar when it launched the iPhone and, in my opinion, has been doing so ever since,” he said.
“Everyone else plays catch up and, as a result, the market expectations expand and becomes better for it,” he said.
Journalists should learn from American poet Oliver Wendall Holmes, who once said that “a mind that’s been stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions”.
Mr Challinor said: “Journalists need to realise this too. Mobile, and all that it entails, is the future. There’s no going back. We all know it’s happening.
“We need to write for people in the right context, for right screen size, the right manner or tone for the space, and in a way that’s appropriate for the time when we know they’re reading us.”
Monetising mobile has always been a challenge for newsrooms, and Mr Challinor believes that time, location, and context are important factors to consider.
“Getting this combination right will help us monetise our future. They combine to help us generate a better experience for all,” he said.
As mobile grows, and more and more users embrace the mobile platform, the situation will not get any easier, said Mr Challinor.
“It will only get more complex as markets, devices and operating systems fragment. The trick is finding experts who can help you navigate it all, and put complex scenarios into language that everyone understands, both internally and externally,” he said.
Social media is interchangeable with mobile, according to Mr Challinor, and both need to be taken into consideration.
“Mobile and social go hand in hand. The stats are amazing. We need, as part of our strategy, look at how, why and when readers are using the various social platforms, and then how we can monetise them,” he said.
“For example, we found at the (London) Telegraph that by adding certain platforms such as Flipboard onto our advertiser offerings we were able to triple the audience.”
When Mr Challinor joined the Telegraph Media Group, it had no substantial mobile platform.
“They had dabbled previously and, as a result, got somewhat lost in the mix. My first role was to stop all that, put business cases and a strategy around the things we did, or wanted to do, and bring cross discipline teams together,” he said.
“As a result, we ended up with a robust, creative suite of mobile offerings that were flexible, and able to develop over time, and crucially start to drive new revenue as part of an integrated approach.
“Mobile is still a new space for us all. We’re all still trying new ways to engage. But do something! Don’t sit back and wait.
“As the old saying goes, “screaming “oh my God” in bed on a Sunday morning, doesn’t count as going to Church!” “
The Future Forum will be held at the Hilton in Sydney on Thursday, September 10 and Friday, September 11, and will bring together newspaper media executives and delegates from around the world for masterclasses, a program of high-profile speakers and industry awards.
Sir Martin Sorrell will appear at the Future Forum via video link.
Click here to register.
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