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Ruthless prioritisation

The key to publishing success is nailing what you’re good at and concentrating on that. This was one of the takeaways from the PPA Independent Publisher Conference.

By James Evelegh

Ruthless prioritisation
Amanda Wigginton in conversation with Douglas McCabe at the PPA Independent Publisher Conference.

At the recent PPA Independent Publisher Conference, there was an interesting session with Amanda Wigginton, the PPA's audience measurement & insight lead and Douglas McCabe, CEO of Enders Analysis, in which they discussed the findings of the new ‘PPA Market Sector Insight Report’.

Based on their discussions, here are my top tips for publishing success:

  • Be a specialist, not a generalist. The clear trend is from generalist to specialist. Scale is only the right model if you’re a search engine; it is not the right model for publishers. The best place for a publisher to be is the #1 trusted voice in their market, able to deliver tangible benefits to their readers. The reader question that publishers must focus on providing an answer to is: What can I not do if I don’t sign up for this?
  • Expect to be constantly recalibrating your business. There is no one-size-fits-all publishing model. Publishers are finding an infinite variety of ways they can be successful. Everyone should be adopting a test and learn culture – rip up the legacy guides!
  • Prioritise, ruthlessly. In the recent past, publishers have been guilty of trying to do everything. The new focus is on forensic prioritisation. Publishers need to quickly nail down what they’re good at and focus on that. As a general rule, less is more.
  • Know how to use data. Data is highly valuable, but only if you know how to use it. Douglas gave us an interesting insight into how Netflix uses data. Their marketing team base everything they do on data. The content team doesn’t touch it.
  • Invest in your people. They are your growth enablers, to be ignored at your peril. Put them front and centre of everything. Part of this is trying to be a “good” company that takes its ED&I and sustainability responsibilities seriously.
  • Experiment with AI. Machine + People = Benefit. Used intelligently together, they’re a winning combination; deploy either on its own and you will soon be overtaken by those who have worked out how to best marry the machine with their people.
Amanda Wigginton presenting the findings from the PPA Market Sector Insight Report. Photograph: ASV Photography / PPA

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