Brand safety, editorial independence and media partnerships took centre stage for the first IMAA eLearning session. Held in partnership with ThinkNewsBrands, the Publishing & News101 module saw industry experts take the stage to provide insights and advice to more than 50 academy members.
Opening the session by speaking about the pillars that the IMAA was founded on, IMAA CEO Sam Buchanan told the audience that education has been a key feature of the organisation since day one.
“The education component [of the IMAA] is the biggest investment into the media industry’s education in the history of Australia,” he said.
“It’s $250,000 into the IMAA Academy, which attracts people into our industry. There are eight modules, this is the seventh one to be launched, and we’re beyond excited to do it with ThinkNewsBrands.”
Describing the session as being “taken up a notch” due to being held face-to-face, ThinkNewsBrands CEO Vanessa Lyons then told the crowd that “from a ThinkNewsBrands perspective, we’re really invested in the IMAA Academy and in trying to teach people a little bit more about everyone’s media channels.
“You don’t always have the time to really go through a module in detail, so we wanted to cut to the chase and get you accredited as quickly as possible whilst educating you at the same time.”
It was then time for the day’s panel, made up of Paul Blackburn, director commercial data video and product at News Corp Australia, Aimie Rigas, director of audience development publishing at Nine and Jakeb Waddell, sports editor at SWM who were joined by Lyons as moderator.
The first point put to the panel by Lyons was that there is a common misconception that news is just breaking news and big headlines, asking Waddell if he thought that people and advertisers overlook the impact that topics like sport have within the news publishing environment.
“I think people underestimate just how many people pick up a newspaper to read sports and other category news,” Waddell told the crowd. “I know my boss, Anthony De Ceglie, the editor of The West always said that it doesn’t matter how good my front page is if we’ve got a crap back page.
“If you look at the stats, 13.5 million people engage with sports every single day, and that shows you that it’s multiple demographics engaging. They can’t just be the stereotype of the young male reading about niche things.”
After an anecdote about how his daughter was one of the millions of Australians swept up in Matildas fever last year, Blackburn followed on to speak to other categories of news that might not necessarily be front-of-mind for advertisers.
“Shopping is news. News.com is the number one referring domain to the retail industry, and during Cyber Weekend, we are the number one referring domain by a longshot.
“When people are looking for shopping news, they’re coming to news.com.au first, and then going out to the retailer to buy. The category is so broad, to pigeonhole it as traditional current affairs is probably the wrong thing.”
No matter what topics are being covered, Rigas made the point to the audience that it had to be covered to the highest standard.
“When you think of the Sydney Morning Herald or the Financial Review, you probably think of a very specific type of content – but we also have experts in entertainment. For example, the Grammys, we give just as much resource, expertise, and rigour to that as we would a federal election in terms of how we cover it.
“Our audience trusts us to curate, and trust is something that we’ve built over a very long time.”
After the event wrapped up, Mediaweek caught up with ThinkNewsBrands CEO Lyons to ask what the biggest goal of the day was, and what the advantages were of bringing together participants in the same room.
“The big goal is to save people time, but still get across the important information,” Lyons said. “Sometimes there’s no better way to do that than to spend time face-to-face to really educate.
“We also wanted to give them the opportunity to ask questions and to have a greater exposure to the capability of publishing news, rather than the textbook theory. There’s a lot more practical use to it with a discussion, hence the panel and bringing other things to the fore.”
With so much information to get across in a short time, Lyons said there were three main points that she wanted to get across – the first being that publishing is no longer simply “press and print.”
“People need to start thinking of publishing and news in its entirety in order to take advantage of the full capability. If anyone refers to this channel now as press or print, then they’re swearing!
“The second one is to understand how to engage, and how to get the best outcomes for their clients. What’s the best way they can reach out to publishing news providers? What’s the best way that they can use their data, their content capabilities, and their advertising capabilities?
“The third one is that news is not just breaking news. Readers engage in a multitude of different categories within publishing, and the news environment is much broader than what people think. Stop thinking about the front cover or breaking news headlines only, start thinking about its full offering.”
Top Image: Publishing & News101 graduates