Oh, you. You’re me.

I can sell you, you.
My company can too.
Spirit of red and white, no blue,
Four letters sports will choose.

Who am I?

Rob King, editor-in-chief of ESPN Digital Media?


MU hosted the RJI iPad Conference today and the session with ESPN included King, publishing G.M. Gary Hoenig and senior writer Wright Thompson. More on Thompson in the next post.

What a succinct revelation. Companies sell you to yourself through digital platforms and mobile devices. You customize your phone. It’s yours; it’s you.

The key, according to King, is exclusive inclusion, another phrase that should be fed into the lexicon change machine and coined. Give people inside access, lots of it, rather than making them feel like the kid picked last on the playground.

Hoenig tag-teamed into the conversation with his own philosophy.

“The Apple ecosystem is strictly a consumer model. They’re writing the rules.” But they are successful, and Hoenig knows it and believes that the idea of not making money from media products is false.

“If you make it easy for people to pay and give them something they will pay for, they’ll pay.”

ESPN earned back its initial investment in the magazine in under three years, but Hoenig sees the iTunes model as the ideal.

“It’s 99 cents a pop, and I don’t have to do much of anything,” he said, highlighting the characteristics of convenience, impulse and delivery. He also dropped an Angry Birds reference, one of several that would crop up during the day. Those pigs are evil…

Hoenig concluded that the iPad “will replace the newsstand for us ultimately.”

That’s as blunt as I’ve heard it from any senior-level magazine employee. Frankness was a common trait. Candid and refreshing. King later followed up with knowledge he learned from his days in newspapers.

“It sucks to be irrelevant.”

King also shared ESPN’s mission statement with the audience:

To serve sports fans wherever sports are watched, listened to, discussed, debated, read about or played.

They could probably add “betted on,” but…

If the magazine and its constituent moving parts — writers, artists, editors, management — can stick to that statement, attracting a loyal readership should be an empty-net goal.

This entry was posted in J-Movers and Shakers, Journalism Industry, Reporting Experiences. Bookmark the permalink.

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