Today was the third and final JEECamp, held at The Bond in Digbeth (click on the link for full coverage).
My job during the day was to live blog various discussions taking place. First off was a keynote speech by Simon Waldman, Director of Digital Publishing at the Guardian Media Group. He talked about the importance of entrepreneurship and innovation in the media industry – both for small start ups and larger, more established corporations. The larger institutions are so stuck in their ways however that innovation has been difficult, and simply having an online presence is not enough. Being a student on the MA Media and Creative Enterprise at BCU, I knew all of this already but Simon did illustrate some good examples, such as IBM innovating in the early 80’s to turn around a huge loss.
Questions from the audience revolved mostly about paywalls for online news, which is a highly popular and much debated issue but Simon suggested that it is useless to fixate on one thing and instead focus our energies on looking at innovative ways to generate revenue, and I agree.
Next everyone broke off into different groups to discuss the latest burning issues around journalism and entrepreneurship and I volunteered to live blog for the most relevant topic to me – Business models and funding. The other three groups covered law, ethics and regulation, community management and news gathering.
There was a lot of discussion in my group about the need for journalists to multi-skill yet focus on a niche, and there were two prime examples present in John Thompson of Journalism.co.uk and Phillip John of Lichfield Blog who have both managed to turn their hobbies into a success because of the niches they focused on.
In the end though, the same problems still came up – a reliance on advertising and increased competition making revenue generation for online platforms extremely difficult. Everyone came to the conclusion that even though no solutions or answers were found during the discussion, having such conversations helps and everyone was confident that a breakthrough will be reached one day!
This was typical of the atmosphere throughout the event – everyone was relaxed. I wondered why this was – because we are out of the recession that we were in the middle of this time last year? Because the entrepreneurial spirit promoted throughout the day gave us hope? Who knows, but it was nice.
Then there were two fringe discussions, one about the MA Courses in the BCU School of Media (my course being one of them) and a talk by Nigel Barlow. Nigel started his local blog ‘Inside the M60‘ last year and he described his difficulty with generating enough revenue. I admit I was a little distracted during his talk because I took a picture of Nigel and thought I uploaded it to Twitter…but infact I uploaded a picture of my house mates instead. I was embarrassed and unfortunately it is still there on the live coverage! I knew I should have brought my laptop and not used my phone.
Finally there was a closing presentation by Stewart Kirkpatrick, founder of the Caledonian Mercury. It was a very funny and inspiring presentation, and he ended with a great point: that in the future journalists will need to come together to work on projects, which will cut out the big publishers. This is again something I have heard and read about before during my course, and I am glad people are beginning to acknowledge that the media industries are inevitably moving towards portfolios and projects rather than the office and ‘9-5′.
Everyone left the event feeling quite optimistic, and it’s a great shame this will be the final JEECamp. Paul Bradshaw has done a great job over the past few years to bring the best journalistic minds together (and give us students a chance to mingle with them).
Thanks to Dan Davies for the photos!
Last night I went to a seminar at Birmingham University by Kanya King, CEO and founder of the MOBO Organisation.
Great talk by Dean Lindsay which has captured the key points of business networking and how to network more effective.
It is a book that from day one of my MA (and before that, actually) I have been encouraged to buy and read. I bought it in time for the course to start, and even read a couple of chapters, but it didn’t really ‘click’ with me.
So today I sat down and read Seth Godin’s Purple Cow from cover to cover, in an attempt to spark some inspiration/moment of genius. I needed this inspiration because next week I am taking part in a month-long placement with theVine, a magazine aimed at the BME (Black, Minority, Ethnic) community. I have been at theVine since last October, so my need for inspiration/a kick up the backside may seem strange.
It is because I will be mainly acting as a marketing consultant, when previously my role at theVine was of journalist and page designer. I have no experience of marketing but learning about it through practice and experimentation is the best way, hence why it is part of my production lab assignment.
Innovation is more important than ever; not just in marketing, but everything you do in business and that is one of the most resounding things I have learnt from the Cultural Entrepreneurship module. This is also the philosophy of Purple Cow: it’s not a marketing book (despite being lauded by Marketing magazine and similar publications) in fact it looks more at the product/service itself and how that can be developed. It is almost seven years old now but it is still very relevant and fresh – so why hasn’t everyone latched on to the Purple Cow concept? simply because it is too risky.
Here are the main points I picked up from the read-a-thon:
- New types of network (social networks, social media etc) means ideas can spread quicker than ever before.
- It’s now about satisfying people’s wants, not needs.
- You need to target the right people – a passionate and enthusiastic niche that will take the time and effort to spread the word about your business/idea (Seth Godin calls them ’sneezers’).
- Don’t aim for the masses. There is no point in trying to compete with the big brands that already target the masses.
- Measure what you’re doing and outputs will be optimised.
- Create an innovative environment where Purple Cows can be invented and experimented with, without fear of failure.
- Don’t overdo the marketing/advertising just to look productive – it is better to do nothing than too much – it irritates people.
- Marketing is where the marketer changes the product, not the advertisements.
- Purple Cow companies have marketers at their core.
- In turn, marketers are the new designers.
- Being scandalous and cheap are both sporadically effective, but reek of desperation.
- You don’t need passion to create a Purple Cow; you need to realise that there is no other option. Nothing else is going to work.
- Things that have to work rarely do anymore. Again, this points back to the innovative business culture of allowing for failure.
It’s easy to say that being innovative and risky will help get a business off the ground; and I’ve heard many business people, mentors, text books etc say the same, but research and measurement are also important. Along with some good timing and perhaps luck.
My time at theVine is going to be very interesting and I know already that I am going to learn a lot from it. I don’t intend to follow Seth Godin’s Purple Cow as gospel, but there are elements of it that I certainly want to keep in mind both during the next month and during the development of my own business.
This is the comment of Steve Supple on ‘Must Read Book: How To Have Kick-Ass Ideas” on VNPBW BLog: “I have a theory on why I think people stop loving the work they do. Simply, they become stagnant. It takes around 3 years. In the first year in the new job, you’re learning about the company, the customers and the industry. In the second year, you know the work inside out. In the third year, you begin to see it as just routine. But it doesn’t begin to hit you until the fourth year. This is when you start looking at your professional life. And start looking seriously at another job or self employment. The problem is: you stopped learning new things. Your curiosity isn’t fed. Hope this helps” Steve Supple
I have experienced that process through my first job, and I believe lots of people have been through that stage too. Great if you share your thoughts with us.
Businesses and public services alike face huge change in the new information era. They need to shift their emphasis back – to what people really want: http://www.guardian.co.uk/service-design/new-information-era
I was deeply impressed by how Maverick TV have done with Health Illnesses TV programme and have thought that it would be great if this programme works in Vietnam for Vietnamese people. However, with the fact of social media and the traditional culture of Vietnamese people, can it work?
Any opinion and/or advice will be highly appreciated.
I have contacted Director of Cordes Fellowships and received her email which has inspired me to pass along this opportunity to you all. You have 1/50 opportunities so try it out.
It was interesting Cultural Entrepreneurship session today with the discussion about network sociality of cultural workers. Successful networking can generate lucrative leads for your business and help you to build long-term relationships with your clients.