Tag Archives: themediabriefing

What Spinal Tap can tell you about product management

Stonehenge at sunset on a cloudy day.

Image via Wikipedia

One thing they certainly don’t teach in journalism schools is digital product management. But it’s one of the things that people who came through print publishing careers into the online world are increasingly being asked to get to grips with.

Working on TheMediaBriefing.com has certainly been a learning curve – we’re working now with partners at Idio to redevelop the main site and we already have (what I think) is a nifty mobile-optimised site. It’s going to have an improved user interface and more things people can do on the site – with more of an emphasis on our original content, while highlighting the usefulness of our curated links.

There have been all sorts of useful posts and resources that can help with this kind of thing, such as this from the AOP.

But I keep thinking of a particular scene in Spinal Tap. Guitarist David St Hubbins has requested a life-size model of Stonehenge to accompany a particularly overblown performance of Tap’s epic song of the same name. Hastily he scribbles an outline with ” 18′ ” on a napkin and hands it to his manager. Of course, he should have wrote 18′, meaning 18 feet, instead of 18 inches. The finished product is not very impressive (embedding disabled, annoyingly).

The first time the band see the finished product is when it’s lowered onto the stage as part of a big finale:

Are you sure your developers know what you want the final product to look like? The right kind of communication is obviously key here.

On a slightly more serious note, you may be interested in this article and video from the AOP’s product management forum in from December.

Update: Still on a rock theme, any graphic designers will enjoy this jaunty Dio-era Sabbath style song, summing up much of what clients ever ask designers to do: Make the logo bigger!

p.s. TheMediaBriefing is having a party in London on 27th September – all welcome. Sign up to our Meetup group for more details as they’re announced.

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Busy times: TheMediaBriefing, conferences and student blogging advice

Hello there. Yes, it’s been a while, but I’ve been busy. TheMediaBriefing is taking up a lot of time and as I wrote here before it’s a very exciting project we’re building from the ground up. I intend to write more here about some of the interesting things we’re doing with content and technology, in the hope that someone might find it interesting.

But otherwise, here are a few things I’ve been up to:

Building a taxonomy and building a user-interface: type in a search query on TMB and look at the related topics, people, issues, companies. You can sign up as a registered user (for free) and track the topics you want to follow, as Martin Stabe points out very nicely. We’re working with Idio on this to make it better all the time so feedback is welcome.

Commissioning research reports: There’s one out right now on paywalls and subscription business models (it really is worth reading – get the exec summary for free here) and there’s one on the way on mobile apps. My job title is “editor and chief analyst” and much of what I do is far removed from the traditional newsroom reporter role that I’ve held in the past. We’re always interested to hear ideas for what we should next, by the way, so suggestions welcome on that.

Getting more into video: I have a Kodak Zi8 video camera – they are widely used by the Wall Street Journal and other news orgs – and as various conference delegates have found recently, I’m not afraid to use it. I’ve been to interview a few media luminaries recently and I’ve got a lot more lined up in the coming weeks. For example, here’s me talking to John Barnes of Incisive Media about digital strategy…

Student blogging advice: I was asked to talk to journalism students at City University, London this week on how to market their blogs and get noticed with “apps and widgets”. But as I told them, this is looking at the problem from the wrong angle. Good, relevant content tends to market itself simply because people like reading it and will recommend it to others. There is no app or widget that can make your blog readable – and in any case “blog” is unhelpful and outdated term that I personally would avoid. Anyway, here’s the video, via @ThoroughlyGood, and the rest of the night is rounded up by him here.

I also strongly recommend Martin’s talk, which really did get me reading my RSS reader more intently than I have been! He hits on something that every journalist could ask themselves: do you read enough? Do you know everything about your patch?

Lastly, it’s conference season: And I’ve been to some really interesting ones, some old ones and some new ones. AOP was good – it’s where everyone you want to see usually us (I interviewed Google UK’s MD Matt Brittin among others); Forrester’s Marketing Summit was an eye-opener and had lots of lessons for publishers and yesterday was my first time at the APA Content Summit, where Rory Sutherland gave what I thought was a splendid presentation on behavioural economics and advertising.

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