I hope this article serves as a reminder that demolition day is over, and the house is gutted. Now what? What’s your vision? Can you see any opportunity? How will you, as a revenue leader, turn your empty house into a vibrant home for the future?
2023 will belong to the optimist, the engineers and the can-do spirit. Cynicism and doubt only leave bitter tastes and bleak futures, and if you stay there, you may be unable to recoup. The second half of 2022 was tumultuous and left too many highly talented individuals unemployed on both the content and revenue side of media. Therefore, I appeal to all news media leaders to do whatever possible to stop this cycle and not take the losses and learnings from last year in vain.
Virtually all leaders know how to cut costs by eliminating positions, but opportunists and innovators understand how to adjust in the red to capitalize in the black. Simply cutting the future for short gains will always be a one-side turbulent affair that, at best, leads to flat results. So where is the opportunity? Where do you go from here?
Do you need help finding where to begin? Let’s start with building stronger relationships with virtually everyone in your department. You’re still the coach, and your players have just gone through a challenging season. Your organization is their livelihood, so be sure to meet people where they are, help them reengage mentally, and, if applicable, don’t be afraid to express some vulnerability. It’s up to you to rejuvenate the spirit of your team leaders and organization.
Take this time and opportunity to help them unravel frustration so they can help you lay down the tracks for the future state ahead. You are the leader that must see opportunity at every peak and valley, so address their concerns of the past, communicate immediate areas to revamp, and then rebuild their confidence in their future. Everyone will have to be locked in and focused on meeting objectives. Not speaking to or addressing organizational worries may have an underlying lasting effect on morale that could hinder progress.
Speaking of progress, as the revenue leader, it’s your responsibility to create the environment and standards that enable projects and action plans to succeed. Daily, weekly and monthly habits can lead to goal attainment and long-term sustainable gains. This month is a great time to create a new precedent for planning smaller projects and celebrating milestones that build to more significant company initiatives. See the opportunities to align smaller projects with larger organizational objectives and implement them with an action plan that will progress you toward those goals.
Furthermore, maintain positive momentum by celebrating each milestone met to prevent the feeling of aimless monotony or loss of enthusiasm. For example, if your advertising revenue decreased last year, the opportunity is to create a committee to identify and illustrate where the decrease occurred and how to enhance it.
Finally, see the opportunity to do things right. Unfortunately, many organizations are running extremely lean today, so thoroughly evaluate and prioritize growth opportunities for a sustainable future wherever pertinent. Listen to your audience and develop valuable solutions that address their needs without overextending your financial future. Now is a great time to take inventory and reassess the value of your product so that you can see opportunities to strengthen or increase your market share. If the demolition is done, why not dedicate your focus to rebuilding an even more robust, sustainable product that can endure for generations?
2023 will be the year of doing things smarter. Now is the time to reset your outlook and build stronger relationships with your team, organization and community. If this year already feels more complex, that’s because it will be. The news media business template that has worked for decades must be rebuilt to preserve its long-term legacy. In everything you do this year, choose to see the opportunity to develop more innovative future strategies that helps others. Rebuild your house and make it a better home!
Richard E. Brown is a News Media Alliance Rising Star recipient, the former director of renewals and digital sales strategy at LPi, and the former director of digital operations and sales of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He recently served as the head of digital subscriber churn for Gannett | USA TODAY NETWORK and is now the senior director of retention for The Daily Beast. He is also a member of the board of directors for the Wisconsin Newspaper Association Foundation.
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