The GNI Digital Subscriptions Lab, announced last week in partnership with Local Media Association and FTI Consulting, is an ambitious six-month program that will be laser-focused on finding a path forward for reader revenue strategies.
Today, LMA announced the ten newspapers that were selected to participate in the Lab. They are: El Nuevo Día (GFR Media), The Baltimore Sun (Tribune), The Buffalo News (Berkshire Hathaway), The Columbus Dispatch (GateHouse Media), The Houston Chronicle (Hearst), The Idaho Press (Adams Publishing Group), The Portland Press Herald (Portland, ME), The Post and Courier (Charleston, SC), The Southeast Missourian (Rust Communications) and The Toronto Star (Torstar).
“We invited 21 newspapers that were having success with digital subscriptions to apply for this unique opportunity,”
said LMA President Nancy Lane. “We were impressed by the letters from their CEOs and the work going on at these companies. In the end, the judges chose ten that came with a willingness to experiment and a commitment from the highest levels in their company. We’re excited to work with this cohort on strategies that can change the trajectory of the newspaper industry.”
The group consists of small, medium and large publishers. Diverse selection is important to figuring out models that work across all markets, from large metros to smaller communities, and everything in between. Judges looked for newspapers that were growing their digital subscription business and were ready to fast track it to the next level.
The resources of Google, FTI Consulting, and LMA will help them do that. FTI will spend significant time on-site to perform a full diagnostics evaluation of each participating publisher across multiple dimensions – people, process, technology, marketing, and content. They will benchmark current performance, identify short-term optimization opportunities, and recommend longer-term transformation roadmaps. This includes providing a detailed scorecard to show how each publisher sizes up, and a dashboard for measuring ongoing progress.
The publishers will also have robust support from Google teams that bring expertise in data, strategy, technology, product, and marketing.
LMA will lead the cohort community building with the participating publishers, helping them benchmark their progress and share key learnings and best practices. These insights will then be shared with the industry at large. A three-hour workshop on September 18 at Elevate, a joint LMA/LMC event, will feature the top recommendations and lessons learned.
“The GNI Subscriptions Lab opportunity paves the way for us to work with Google, FTI Consulting, and LMA in advancing our expertise in applying data, content, technology, and marketing strategies to optimize our digital subscription path,” said GateHouse Media CEO Kirk Davis. “Developing a thriving digital model to showcase the amazing work being done by our journalists across the United States is vital to preserving the vitality and viability of our local journalism.”
“In the last year, we saw our circulation revenue eclipse ad revenue and digital subscriptions outpace single copy sales,” said Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram CEO Lisa DeSisto. “We love our print subscribers and will continue to deliver an incredible product to them while at the same time get smarter, faster and more strategic in attaining and retaining digital subscribers. We are eager to learn and implement the best practices we’ll gain in the Lab. Let’s go!”
To read comments from many of the CEOs, publishers, and other senior executives whose publications are participating in the GNI Digital Subscriptions Lab, click here.