Description of panel from BlogHer:
Old media, new media. Traditional media, social media. Print, broadcast, online and mobile media. Professionals. Amateurs. Citizens. Today's truth is that every kind of media company and media person is trying to figure out a way to develop a hybrid model to acquire the strengths they don't already have. Magazine empires and television networks are going online and mobile. Meanwhile, bloggers are seeking and scoring book, print and TV deals. Put a few visionaries together and maybe we can figure out how we all work together, what we all want from one another, how we all get paid to do what we love -- share great stories, important news and unique information.
Lisa Stone moderates this conversation with Redbook editor-in-chief Stacy Morrison, Essence Communications Director of Digital Development, Lesley Pinckney and Bravo TV's Senior VP of New Media and Digital, Lisa Hsia.
Welcome to a very full room.
Introductions of Lesley Pinckney, Lisa Hsia and Stacy Morrison by Lisa Stone
QUESTION from Lisa Stone: What is it like to work with interactive media in some of the largest media brands of the world?
Lesley: Harder, more red tape, constant struggle. Most challenging thing ever done.
Lisa: Exec at Dateline, when there wasn’t much more out there. Moved to Bravo when boss was fired and she was simply moved over. New boss told her to “Become an expert on digital”. iTunes was launched about that time and everyone started jumping on alternate forms of growing audiences and then monetize those markets. No rules, was in charge of “nothing” as the media grew, she learned and grew with it. One day though, “Why don’t we do text voting?” Was stunned by response for Project Runway when a huge audience texted in their votes. 92% of response using digital formats for them, which opens up a true communication and dialog with customer base.
Stacy: Wanted to make Redbook more dynamic and interesting while being told to not piss off the long standing customer base. Saw how women were speaking the truth and while Executives thought that might be a “downer”, she was convinced that women would respond. They have. Blog is the biggest traffic stream on the site. Moderate? Filter? NO. Needs to authentic, modern, real, capture true voices. Redesign the website twice since the beginning. Hired many many designer boys with designer jeans and fabulous hair to make the website. Newspapers and TV News are really struggling while magazines are holding with the help of moving with the new forms of media. Huge brands. Redbook is the 2nd largest web brand magazine company. All content online for free, but seriously, buy an actual magazine once in a while, she pleads.
Lesley: Things aren’t so ridged in business anymore. Putting TV seasons online, trying to maintain copyright, but also trying to give consumers what they want. Can’t do all the driving, must share with the audience. Exciting, likes to see both sides of the equation, trying to figure out what’s next. Ever changing world and just trying to stay ahead of the game. Also have to remember that not everyone is there yet (not everyone is amazingly tapped in like bloggers).
Lisa: Hulu co-owned by Fox. Place to start figuring out all the new ad models. Platform run by really start people. Just another platform to offer a product.
Lesley: Disney didn’t at first want to work with Hulu but three months in, are seeing that it’s an important market and are now trying to jump in.
Stacy: Big companies want to find the answer and keep it (revenue control) but that’s not working... partnerships and buying into the open/sharing companies really work better.
Lisa: Nothing is permanent. Just try it! Just don’t invest everything in the experiment and be willing to find something new.
Stacy: Make some mistakes. What you can learn from them is important.
Lesley: Never going to be “right” and never going to be “perfect”, could be wildly wrong. Greatest promotion every done or “WHAT WHERE YOU THINKING?”. But need to take the risk.
QUESTION from Lisa Stone: There’s challenge in risk. Constant pressure to tell personal stories yet, but there’s still a bottom line. How do you cope?
Stacy: “Sex is the only thing that works” was the belief. 360 dimensional concept, not just about sex or fashion or whatever. New items, home grown blogs, sex and DIY are the two most popular. Proud of doing what’s best for the brand, even if it’s not popular (yet).
Lesley: digital space – easier and cheaper to tell lots of different kind of stories. Hollywood focuses on limited genres, and yet there’s so many stories out there that are important to tell. Even if you can’t make money off of it, you still need to reflect the stories of your customer base. All things to all people. Building an ad network.
Lisa: Blogs are most popular part of the site. Tied to the show. Unbelievably popular and monetized. They sell advertising as a block, so a sponsor must buy all forms of advertising in order to be part of the program.
QUESTION from audience: These are the future content providers (blogs), how are you addressing that?
Stacy: Trying to peel back the doors and have circular conversations. The conversation is more interesting than the book itself. How do you bring the chatter onto paper without losing the warmth of the discussion. ENGAGEMENT is represented by a bunch of tiny dots... moving oceans of customers rather than blocks of types. Can get Redbook readers into five buckets, sure, but it’s so much more fluid than that.
Lesley: Women’s initiates have always been important important. Recognition that women are drawn to the space. Magazine editors should be here at BlogHer recruiting new writers! Bloggers have the voice that we’re looking for... its happening.
QUESTION from audience: Adaptations from new forms (video blogging, mirco blogging, etc) curious about why so many networks are still trying to control and don’t immediately integrate new products and forms of communication.
Lesley: Pure technical bullsh*t to get through; hard to advance on a technical level when you’re so big. You create in java and then tomorrow php is the thing. Plus when you have so many different companies trying to work together, you need to be on the same platform. Set of standards changes within the company, solutions need to change. Don’t want to invest in Twitter, for instance as a platform for communication unless they have a stake in it (i.e. own it).
Lisa: Different tech... like driving a battleship. Enjoys being at smaller network because you can do more, take more risks. She gets to try new things and has never been told NO, just wait sometimes. Live polls, direct information, etc. Product has to be good.
QUESTION from audience: Commenter from Germany, wants to see the content in English, not wait for the translation. When are you moving to a more International space (we have euros!)
Lisa: Experience has shown that other countries don’t want to buy our product; instead, they want to buy rights to do their own version. Also operators sometimes prevent.
QUESTION from audience: Blogging is genuine. When companies start to blog, they try to push product which cheapens the experience.
Lisa: Bloggers do speak for the show. Their take on the show. But you have to fund it some way. 90% is from the character themselves. You have to recognize that this is a product when you’re reading.
Stacy: Have no personal boundaries. Redbook is 104yo and has even penetration from coast to coast. 10mil readers (other than Oregon and Washington). Manage and maintain deep audience representation. Fun to be all “Sex in the City” but what about what it really means to be an American woman? Our audience is conservative/religious, thinks of the magazine as a family magazine so Stacy needs to be careful about what she says. But never had a drop off with her changes. Constantly trying to not just think like herself: feels responsible to 10m women she’ll never meet. Must be an empath in many ways. Boyfriend was recently reading her blog and said, “It doesn’t sound like you”. But she’s vulgar and chaotic, etc and can’t be that on Redbook. She has to represent an openness to everyone else. I read your blogs and miss it. I want to be cool/funny/vulgar/ etc but needs to take care of her audience as well. Can’t speak to their life, can only speak to her own, but still needs to do so in a respectful way.
Lesley: Don’t have a personal blog. Would get fired with what she would say. Try really hard not to tell her contracted bloggers what to say, but does have to be sensitive to sponsors. Respects the story as told, but a challenge worth taking on. Don’t want to censor. Sometimes she cringes at what is said, but she still supports her bloggers.
QUESTION from audience: Mindsets “want to own twitter, not just be on it”. USE media, not just BE media. How does that play out?
Lesley: it is called the entertainment “business” for a reason. We’re all trying to make a buck in some way. Big companies have to preserve their piece of the pie. You don’t have to agree, but we live in a capitalist society. Must recognize what the game is and play by the rules while developing the growth. Exit strategies for big IPO’s is to sell to someone bigger (Google, etc) and retire but we need to protect growth and allow new companies to become the next IBM on their own, not just submit to someone else’s umbrella.
Lisa: Experiment. Matches are OK.
Stacy: Partnership models. Mike Dunn flies around meeting people and talking, connecting people. Investments go wrong. eReading partnerships.
QUESTION from audience: Green point of view. What are your companies doing to promote green and to reduce carbon footprint?
Stacy: [Fist pump to the shy] Redbook has green office tower in NYC; committed to the concept back in 2001. Aggressive programs within the building as well. On an office level, it’s golden. Working hard on finding magazine options that are green as well (paper/ink/etc). Launched green site. Feel the pressure.
Lisa: Green at Universal. It’s a big focus.
Lesley: Green is something large companies should be taking the lead in, but it’s also become a “commodity” and is being used as an angle. Education on what’s really green is a big deal.
Out of time.