To develop a nation wide network of full spectrum, integrated, independent, media franchised outlets that exist in a dynamic two-way relationship of mutual influence with a central franchisor. This structure is designed to bring the full opportunity that new technologies offer in the delivery of information, from a network of businesses committed to editorial independence with operational consistency. The ideals of success and profitability marry with the ideal of creating a self propagating entity that, by the nature of its structure, ensures unfettered journalistic integrity.
Media integration to date has had mixed results and in many cases limited success. It seems however, that “Convergence”, which represents the attempts at media integration to date, has been a logical course of events with only partial implementation.
Convergence to date has been pursued by large firms purchasing various traditional media outlets and allowing those outlets to operate in much the same way as they have in the past. “Convergence” as it has manifested today has produced no real benefit, other than perhaps small synergies associated with administration, a bit of cross marketing and the increased access to profits via acquisition. The process of convergence has been a television broadcaster purchasing a newspaper with the two entities functioning under common ownership in parallel, with little real INTERGRATION.
It is the observation of the writer that the greater an industry is taxed by competition the more integrated it becomes and hence the better it responds to competition. This integration can occur vertically intra-company or along a supply chain inter-company. In all cases the segmentation of production or process occurs along the various elements of delivery of product or service. Convergence to date in the media industry has siloed the elements of process by media type and failed to access synergies that could occur by collapsing inter-media type outlet barriers and integrating processes.
All media consists of fundamental elements; the collection of information, the assembly of information into a marketable form and the delivery of information to the market. To date there has been a weak evolution of companies toward convergence, when there exists an opportunity to engineer a completely integrated media company, with a business model that addresses the key elements of information delivery, utilizing the full panoply of media available in the digital age. One needs to view the various present media types, TV, Radio, Newspaper, internet as mere substrates; functioning under a single digital umbrella.
The design of a New Media company begins by accessing the foundation elements and exploring human functions associated with them, and then exploring methods of levering that human function through a completely integrated format, to a media network of operators functioning in the market.
Scope of Product Offering
The integrated media company brings marketing function to the advertiser as opposed to just advertising. This degree of integration also removes media type bias in the marketing product offering; allowing greater opportunity for any one sales person to deliver results to the advertiser. Presently when an advertising offering is delivered to the market it arrives fragmented into media types, integration provides a multi media opportunity from a single source.
As a result of the digitalization of the media process, the full scope of product can now be accessed with in a common skill set. The ability to edit digital images stationary or moving - for print, TV, or a subway poster, can be readily managed by a single person who understands the digital world. Naturally there is specialization efficacy that befalls these tasks, and as market magnitude allows organizational specialization can occur. Digital technology provides opportunity for perfect scaling in any market.
Given modern technological realities, a complete product offering is defined by what technology allows, as opposed to the traditional media business models that have evolved as separate companies in an atmosphere of disparate technologies. Given the unifying quality of digital media, the product scope can include everything from the sign on the front door, the thirty second TV ad, the newspaper, the website, internet TV sports cast or the regional magazine … the full media breadth is now available under one technological umbrella.
The proposed structure will develop in response to the new requirements of the public consumer: remunerated interactive opportunities, verticalized media to address communities of users, ready access (get it when you want it) and well developed avenues to facilitate consumer migration between media types; these will all coalesce under an integrated structure to provide a rich user experience.
Examining Roles to Illustrate the Dynamic of an Integrated Media Company
The collection and delivery of information could be considered the primary activity of a media enterprise. Information collection and delivery: from public to the public, from the advertisers to public, from the public to the advertisers, from business to business.
Data Collection and Delivery Synergies – the New Paperboy
Consider the process of a paperboy delivering a newspaper now, presently he delivers the newspaper full stop; in a fully integrated media company he is a data collector as well. When one views the paperboys function through the lens of basic functions in the context of an integrated media company, the paper delivery person becomes a highly skilled individual utilizing the full digital opportunity. While delivering newspapers, the delivery person is collecting digital images of residences to be input into a data base where the image bank is mined latter for information. For example, the presence of a boat may indicate a given home owner maybe interested in a subscription to Boating Weekly or the shabby exterior may represent an opportunity of a renovation contractor. The accumulation of detailed market data is valuable as product to the advertiser and represents value addition in the process. This value addition can occur because the collection of this data gains value when leveraged by several media delivery opportunities, as opposed to just a newspaper; the collection of data becomes more efficient. The paper boy’s role may now be described as Paper Delivery and Data Collection person; their duties may in include delivering the newspaper, photographing the residence, reading the gas and electric meter, doing a thermal scan of buildings, soliciting the completion of a questionnaire and informing the family of an elderly person that the walk needs clearing.
The Multi Media Reporting Pod
Reporting in the present media environment serves one media. While serving the reporting function in any given circumstance, the same information is being collected by several different media types. An integrated media company sends a multi media pod to a given event; the pod records the event and delivers that information to full media panoply. The new reporter generates the article, the script, and the broadcast format.
The pod consists of a journalist, a digital media person and perhaps a generalist. The interview or collected data is digitized for immediate delivery to the web, TV, Radio and is then analysed and compiled for the stable medias such as newspaper.
Local Media Sales Pod – Direct Business Service
The Media Sales Pod would be structured around a media account manager, the manager would be supported by a digital specialist with capabilities spanning the full media spectrum and a support person to manage phones and perform less technically dense functions. As the company is a completely integrated entity, the account manager arrives at the prospective advertising customer with a complete product offering. For a start up business needing a full media grand opening package, a flyer, TV blitz and stationary, a single media source delivery capability is in place.
Conclusion – Examining Roles
The above three examples give a general feel for the reasoning behind the integrated media business model concept. These brief examples serve to demonstrate the dynamic generated by integration.By addressing the function of media and utilizing the breadth of technology available, individual function becomes efficient, productive and market responsive.
The core value of IMC’s creation is to develop a self replicating network of local media operators that collectively gain greater and greater influence over the media market, where growth contributes the diffusion of media ownership and influence, as opposed to the concentration of ownership and influence. The structure will monetize the natural democratization that is presently taking place in the media environment, while giving a business structure with the strong foundation of financial reward.
IMC corporate structure is founded on principles of decentralized influence and franchisee autonomy of action; while still providing a level of standardization that, builds brand equity and multi market recognition under a common banner, facilitates full member network interoperability and adheres to a common standard of media content and quality.
The IMC national Franchisor will provide dynamic management via the tradition corporate executive / board structure. The board configuration will consist of strong representation from the ranks of the franchisees, as well other typical board members representing the various business disciplines and specific industry expertise.
As is the entire spirit of IMC, the corporate constitution will encourage creation of critically independent franchisees who can respond dynamically by their own judgement to the unique requirements of their local market.
As with any business, critical mass in the market is essential and with IMC the effects of critical mass are exponentially related to the company’s establishment and success. It is for this reason the franchise agreement will draw on the success of other franchising companies, where generous franchisee reward has encouraged enthusiastic participation and facilitated rapid expansion.
In the spirit of propagating independence through media management, a strong imperative will be given to local ownership and ownership management of the franchise.
One objective of the franchise structure is to provide several rich streams of revenue ensuring overall profitability and the reduction of influence of anyone given revenue stream.
Operational Roles of National Franchisor Office
National Franchisor office is the primary network node
As the primary network node, the franchisor will act as the main repository of media content, facilitate inter-franchisee administrative functions such inter franchisee monetary exchange, and facilitate the collection and organization of extra-organisational media content.
Representation in Major Centres
The national franchisor, to fulfil its role of a “national level” operator will maintain regional offices in major centres across the country that, provide content by performing Journalism, purchases syndicated media content and effectively markets to national scale customers.
Research and Development
The national franchisor will maintain a centre for research and development. The primary focus of research will to maintain market awareness of technology, information, market intelligence, new content and cultural, and market trends; as these items relate to the operational aspects of the business.
Brand Management and Development
The consistency of the company’s public image will be a paramount management focus. Consistency in product and appearance among franchisees are critical elements contributing brand value and market credibility, and will be determined by franchisor policy; policy determined jointly with local and national input and finally implemented from the franchisor office.
Common marketing initiatives will be utilized to build both product and brand awareness, the franchisor office will determine the scope, content and nature of marketing initiatives in consultation with the franchisees.
Define Operating Territories
The franchisor office will define franchisee operation territories and mediate any challenges that may arise as the dynamic of business inevitably causes overlap in operations.
Own and Operate Inter-Market Media
There is prudence in addressing the overall media market opportunity. Inter-Market media may include, website content of nation interest, a national or province wide newspaper, vertical media such as subject specific magazines with circulation coverage over many operational territories, and a National Newscast
Define Product Pricing
While product pricing is sure to vary from market to market there is a need for continuity in pricing philosophy. So the franchisor will retain an oversight capability to ensure that central input is provided to local pricing decisions.
Operational Roles of Franchisees
Drawing on the strength of a national presence and a network of media outlets, the local franchisee will focus on developing strong ties with community. The franchisee will hold full discretion as to how best to address the local market. Complete autonomy will exercised by the franchisee in the selection of content to service the local market. Franchisees will be able to benefit from all national media products by functioning as a local media sales outlet.