February 24, 2021

Uncovering Key Trends in News Media

If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that the media industry can be indispensable, frustrating, confusing, and downright scary at times. Since the mid-90’s, the internet and media industry have evolved hand in hand. New mediums have emerged along with new businesses and business models, including the rise of social media.

Today it feels like the media and the digital world are at a critical inflection point. At 3Pillar, we are observing a shift in conversations with our clients as they explore new opportunities in this latest evolution.

These are the emerging trends we’re seeing in today’s media industry:

  1. Media companies are looking for new ways to engage with existing customers and attract new audiences.
  2. Media companies are curious about building communities and new relationships between readers, journalists and content.
  3. 2021 sees media companies exploring new business models and new mediums once again.

Media companies are looking for new ways to engage with existing customers and attract new audiences.

Until the beginning of 2020, the speed of the news was only rivaled by the speed of our lives. Readers are skimming headlines distractedly, committing their time to only a few hundred words (if you’re lucky) until they move on to the next story in their Twitter or TikTok feeds.

While 2020 has certainly not seen a decrease in the speed of the news, we’re noticing a fatigue that may present an opportunity for news outlets. The economic and emotional impact of COVID-19 has been horrid for many, but there are those who have welcomed the reconnection with themselves and those closest to them. Many have taken a step back to cherish peace and mindfulness and are looking to bring more depth into their lives and relationships.

During WWII The New York Times introduced their Crossword to help readers take their minds off the constant barrage of negative news stories.

How might the news media become a part of rebalancing our lives during COVID-19 and beyond?

Media companies are curious about building communities and new relationships between readers, journalists and content.

There are a number of brands that are informing how we think about community. For example, most people think of Airbnb as a two-sided marketplace of hosts and guests. Behind Airbnb’s success is a history of investing in community and hosting real-world, in-person events. Airbnb’s mission is centered on belonging. This genuine sense of community connection was expressed publicly this year when the company had to make lay-offs.

Brian Chesky’s human approach to business has even been documented as a success guide for future business models.

Quora, Pinterest and Reddit have created similar platforms of communities around shared interests, passions and goals. Pinterest’s mission is to bring everyone the inspiration to create a life they love. Quora’s core principle is simple: “Be nice, be respectful.”

Spending time in these communities feels organic and authentic as these platforms continue to evolve with their community and foster human connection and relationships. The companies behind these communities invested in experiences that connected brands and customers through trust, respect, vulnerability, empathy and delight.

How might today’s news media build trust and create a community of readers, reporters and staff that is respectful, empathetic and delightful?

2021 sees media companies exploring new business models and new mediums.

The subscription business model was first introduced by publishers in the 17th century. Today, subscription services are utilized by everyone from software enterprises to toothpaste companies and food services to entertainment. The model itself is simple and beneficial for both the business and the user: customers paying a recurring fee at regular intervals provide companies with a predictable revenue stream at a lower cost of sale.

With subscriptions everywhere, savvy customers are noticing that not all subscriptions carry equal value. Companies using subscription models are having to add more value to their services to retain their subscriber loyalty. Amazon Prime is setting the benchmark for value in retail, and Apple is also finding new ways to keep customers tied to their ecosystem.

We’re also finding inspiration at the premium end of the subscription model. Inspirato, the Vacation Club, has a $2,500 per month subscription allowing unlimited nights at luxury hotels and homes around the world. In 2020 Fortune introduced Fortune Connect, giving business leaders exclusive access to an executive network, premium content and master classes.

What we’re noticing is that premium services feel more like clubs than subscriptions with a membership model that aligns with community. This is provoking us to ask:how might media companies today develop a sustainable business model that leverages community and provides access to a unique premium content experience?

At 3Pillar, we understand the number of opportunities opening up for the media industry can feel overwhelming. The thought of finding something to focus on and execute is daunting. We’re here to help. If you have an idea you would like to discuss, an hour with our team can start you on a journey of exploration and discovery.

Let’s Get to Work.

About the Author

David Beath is Senior Director of Digital Consulting at 3Pillar Global and a seasoned transformation leader with more than 22 years of design innovation and strategy experience. David is creative, versatile, results focused and moves comfortably between vision, strategy and delivery. He has led high performing teams in Fortune 100 companies in a variety of sectors including: Hospitality, Financial Services, FMCG, Learning Management, Retail, Transportation, Energy and Government. David is an alum of IDEO, the global design and innovation firm, and believes complex problems are solved by understanding human needs first. He fears technologies looking for problems to solve. David often shares ideas on topics that range from human centered design and innovation ecologies to the future of retail, financial services and hospitality.