BIMS Keynotes Griffey and Zielina Will Talk Culture, Content and Products

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Earlier today, we announced the first two keynotes for our 6th annual Business Information & Media Summit (BIMS) at the Margaritaville Resort in Hollywood, Fla.—yes, Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville—taking place Nov. 11-13. Both will be giving talks directly related to the SIPA audience.

One is Sean Griffey, CEO of Industry Dive, a company that is doubling down on content and culture and seeing the revenue gains, adding editorial staff as we speak. "We grow in two ways—we get deeper into the industries that we are already in and we launch in new markets," he told my colleague Matt Kinsman earlier this year.

The other is Anita Zielina, director of news innovation and leadership at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism. I came across her from an article on the INMA site on product innovation. "...there are ways to devote a certain amount of your product thinking and resources to think about the next thing," she said. "The best way to do this is to really assign a certain amount of days or hours to something that is really out of the box and new, rather than functionality."

We could not be more thrilled to have these two luminaries delivering talks that will address key pain points for SIPA members. Here is more of their perspectives: (You can read more about BIMS here.)

On providing value:

Zielina: "Product has become more and more a discussion that has become a debate. The reason for that is we are talking more about subscriptions and creating value for your users. Ultimately the balance we have to find is how we still do journalism and stay true to our mission while incorporating innovation, technology, and product thinking in a way that allows us to be very value-centred in relations to our readers."

Griffey: "There are some media companies that on some level are SEO plays—they are writing about purchase decision and buying guides for very specific industry pieces and that will work for them based on the nature of the purchases in their industries, But as it becomes more widespread, we forgot the value of what people turn to us for and we miss the part of the decision based process that's most important—the underlying strategy and direction of the business."

On innovation:

Zielina: "A focus on perfectionism does not foster innovation. The interesting thing is that success is only possible if you experiment more. And experimentation is doing different things until you find something that works. If we move to a more iterative process in product development—where failure is accepted in every tiny step along the way, to adjust from it—we can be more successful."

Griffey: "As our content continues to evolve, we continue to roll out new things for the audience. We've got an interactive map tracker in our smart city publication that tracks the roll out of smart scooters and bike across different cities and the laws that pertain to it. Those are the types of things that the editorial team can do that make us more valuable. That almost always pays off. [This year] we are planning to launch into a couple more industries and I see us investing more in audience data."

On setting priorities:

Zielina: "I think what happens a lot is that you say these things are important, but you aren't really following it in leadership with your actions. Then you have to really be willing to invest or shift money into building a product team. So it's really kind of a transformation process than anything else, unless you're building as a start-up. Of this means you ask yourself, what can I stop doing, to shift those resources into something else."

Griffey: "Almost all of our money goes back into people. We have continued to invest in the digital experience here and we see that elevating the brand and raising the company as a whole. As a company we [now have 72 full-time journalists and] publish 22 daily online publications covering news and providing insights in 18 different industries."

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Ronn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering a variety of topics before joining SIPA in 2009 and SIIA in 2013 as editorial director…