Boston globe

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Group Solve.

Marketing is problem solving. Through productizing and service-izing. And since marketing is inextricably linked to branding, problem solving is inherently a good brand strategy trait.

The digital economy has brought us many things to be excited about as marketers: the web, big data, small batch/craft economy offerings, and the Uberization of services aka the sharing economy. But when it comes to problem solving, few of these things are as exciting to me as the “group-solve” phenomenon.  Think open source R&D.

Recently, the Opioid Epidemic Challenge Summit hack-a-thon sponsored by Mass General Hospital and the GE Foundation came up with a Narcan lock box idea that may stem death by opioids. A number of years ago, I worked on an idea called Future Boston (there’s that city again), whereby virtual teams were to come together to solve Boston city problems like traffic, education and population health. This teaming event was sponsored by MIT, IEEE, and the Boston Globe. (Disclosure: it never made it out of plan.)

By bringing great and willing minds together in these hack-a-thon problem solving initiatives, we are doing what humans, with our large brain cases, do best.

When marketers crowd source problems, sans economic motive, amazing things can happen. This is not just a non-profit space, it’s for all members of the commercial community.



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The New York Times Company reported a profit for the second quarter and that’s wonderful. It’s been a slog for the NYT but the company is getting its act together. It is divesting itself of non-core properties (Boston Globe,, ramping up its digital business and leveraging its worldwide brand by investing in changes to The International Herald Tribune, including a new name.

Print advertising is down but more surprisingly so is digital advertising – off 2.7%. In today’s word that’s just a little bit crazy. Perhaps these numbers are the result, not of, but of the other properties. Either way, didge should be growing like a dookie and with the NYT imprimatur, faster than the market.

Here’s a couple of thoughts for The Times to accelerate its recovery:

1. Feed the digital natives with more timely news stories, across more platforms. Online, that will require more video, podcast/audio, and slideshows. Immediacy and “first to report” is a key here.  Your audio video editing suite will need to grow significantly.

2. Keep the analysis for the daily print property, but feed and stream the big stuff from around the world on  Live is better than canned. (Obviously make the paper/paper analysis available online.)

3. Do not rename The International Herald Tribune. As much as I love the NYT, it’s an ethnocentric and brand-selfish.  

4. News cannot be commoditized, so continue to reinvent it. Innovate. Don’t curate. In 20 years, we may still have paper and we still may have broadcast; they are the plumbing. But we will certainly have news — and the organizations that capture it best, with the most accuracy and realism will win the day.


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You’ve heard it said before “Boston is s young city.” Demographically that is.  Lots of college kids, lots of city stuff – it’s a big draw for Millennials and younger adults.   The New York Times is selling off the Boston Globe.  The New York Times, after taking a major shot in the chops, has pulled its financials together under the guise of the old marketing saw “focus,” and been selling a  number of non-core properties – was let loose a while ago.

Here’s the thing, The New York Times is a brilliant newspaper and news property. One of a kind. The Boston Globe is also quite good.  But the captains of industry in Boston are reading the Times. The problem with the newspaper business is kids aren’t reading paper papers. Walk around Boston and count how many upward mobes are carrying newspapers. They have smarties and iPads but no paper.

The NY Times has to see this and plan a generation ahead – and it know this.  The NYT is in the news business, not the paper business – and it knows this. The company can take all the Mexican bailout money it wants to right the ship but the future is the future and it’s coming. Knowing and doing are two different things. Don’t follow the new financial statements, look out the window.

Selling the Boston Globe may fund innovation but this news property needs to demonstrate it is looking and planning beyond the dashboard. Peace.


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