Wan-Ifra: Six APAC news publishers picked for transformation program

New batch for 2nd Newsroom and Business Transformation Asia (NBTA) program

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South Korean news organization Dong-A Ilbo, one of the six to be chosen for the Wan-Ifra APAC program supported by Facebook
South Korean news organization Dong-A Ilbo, one of the six to be chosen for the Wan-Ifra APAC program supported by Facebook

A new batch of six APAC news media companies will embark on the second edition of the Newsroom and Business Transformation Asia (NBTA) program. It follows the success of the last year’s groundbreaking initiative. The programme starts this week and will run until November 2021.

The following news media companies will participate in the 2021 program – BeritaSatu.com (Indonesia), Kompas.com (Indonesia), Maeil Business Newspaper (South Korea), Sun (Fiji) News Pte Ltd (Fiji), SunStar Publishing Inc. (Philippines), The Dong-a Ilbo (South Korea).
The program is designed for news companies in APAC that plan to launch their first paid-content product or activity soon. It brings together one senior editorial and one senior commercial executive from each publisher for four months of training and coaching.

The curriculum equips them with the insights, know-how, and tools to help execute their organisations’ transformation and reader revenue strategy. It covers strategic thinking, planning and implementation, rebalancing print advertising and reader revenue, creating new audiences and retaining existing ones with new products, content, features and services, pricing, marketing and building data capabilities.

There will be case studies from around the world, guest speaker sessions and hands-on project work by participants. These projects will be framed to produce an actionable plan to deal with a go-live challenge at participants’ companies. A US$ 10,000 grant from Facebook supports each project. Participants can use the grant for various purposes such as technology, IT or software purchases, content experimentation, prototype development, etc.

“We welcome the second year of participants to the Wan-Ifra, the Newsroom and Business Transformation Asia 2021. Our partnership with WAN-IFRA is an important part of our commitment to support the region’s news industry build sustainable business growth and engaging content that serves and informs our region.” Anjali Kapoor, director of News Partnerships, Facebook Asia Pacific.

“Reader revenue is a cornerstone of sustainable digital news models. We hope the Newsroom and Business Transformation APAC program will help accelerate the transformation process and equip media companies with the skills needed to survive the disruption to the traditional media business,” said Thomas Jacob, COO of WAN-IFRA.
Digital strategy consultant Gregor Waller and former Managing Editor of The Times of London, George Brock, helm the program.

For Maria Benyamin, editor-in-chief of Bisnis Indonesia, getting advice from the programme leads to develop a holistic reader-engagement strategy to drive her publication’s subscriptions made NBTA 2020 an invaluable learning experience. With their advice, her publication executed a content audit, adjusted its prices, improved its payment systems to minimise friction, started a marketing campaign, re-evaluated its social media engagement tactics and launched a daily email newsletter for readers.

“In the last eight months since we completed NBTA, we saw our subscriptions rates increase more than sixfold (per December 2020). In addition, we found that email newsletters are very effective for incentivizing reader registration and driving traffic to our website,” said Benyamin.

“The ideas discussed during NBTA 2020 about designing experiments, using the right tools and drawing the right conclusions from the data convinced us of the need to develop better data competencies, said Wong Shau Meng, assistant general manager of audience growth at Malaysia-based publication Sin Chew Daily. “We realised we have a lot of data, but it was not very well organised. We have since implemented those ideas to improve our data capabilities,” he said.

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

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– Naresh Khanna

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