At the extremely well attended M-Squared marketing event at the Golden Gate Club in San Francisco yesterday there was a series of extremely strong speakers on hand to discuss the future of marketing from many different angles. Among the speakers were Chip Conley from Joie de Vivre Hospitality, Jim McDowell of BMW/MINI, John Battelle of Federated Media and Josh Quittner, editor of Business 2.0 magazine. Josh kicked off the event and offered an interesting retrospective history of Time (the publisher, not the concept) full of examples of the enormous impact that the duo of Colombia Journalism School and Wired magazine have had on the publishing industry today. As editor of what I would consider one of the more forward thinking publications in the market today, he talked candidly about the future of the publishing industry, his early efforts at working to create a business model for online content and the current success of CNNMoney in driving actual subscriptions (up more than 300%) and bringing in lots of ad revenue. The most interesting part of his talk came as he described the soul searching as editor of Business 2.0 that came when Om Malik decided to leave the publication to focus solely on his highly popular tech blog GigaOm.
Josh described this defection as the point when he started to consider that perhaps it would make more sense to move his publication to a new model that embraced blogs as a part of the identity of his publication. Other publications like BusinessWeek, Vogue and many others have integrated blogs into their content – but none has really focused on instilling blogs and the creation of personal media into their culture as far as Business 2.0 is now poised to do. As part of his new directive, Josh has charged every journalist at Business 2.0 with creating a blog and has soft launched in beta release a group contributed model where there is one blog that pulls content from all journalist blogs, as well as 18 individual journalist blogs. He notes that this will eventually replace their current blog and discussed the following benefits for him in taking this approach:
- Allows smarter and more engaged reporters
- Adding a requirement of 1-2 posts on business per day ensures continually updated content
- Offers more ad revenue opportunities across multiple sites
- Has CNN articles pointing directly to journalist blogs, offering reporters a personal stake and individual traffic
- Preserves the church and state separation issue of editorial versus journalism
- Releasing some editorial control offers faster turnaround and more cutting edge work
- Offering an edited "uber-blog" allows Business 2.0 to pull out the best content and feature it consistently
During the question and answer session of his talk, someone asked the reasonable question of what this opening of control and influx of opinion might do to the credibility of the publication and Business 2.0 brand. To answer, Josh provided what must certainly be one of the best ways of describing the necessity behind this new innovative approach to integrating blogs into a mainstream publication’s culture … "blogs can create the essence of your brand, instead of detracting from it." Are blogs the missing essence of your brand online?