'Integrated journeys keep readers connected'

SPH combined a print and multimedia approach to cover founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew's death and lying-in-state.
SPH combined a print and multimedia approach to cover founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew's death and lying-in-state.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

Knowing and connecting with audiences 24/7 is crucial in the face of the forces reshaping the media industry now.

Key to that is understanding their needs, said Mr Patrick Daniel, editor-in-chief of Singapore Press Holdings' (SPH) English/Malay/ Tamil Media Group. He was speaking to more than 100 representatives from the newspaper and publishing industry yesterday.

Giving the keynote speech at the three-day World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers India 2015 conference and expo in Mumbai, he explained a four-point strategy: transforming newsrooms into integrated print and digital operations, diversifying revenue, changing the way newsrooms operate and maintaining high journalistic standards.

In the case of SPH, Mr Daniel described the engagement with readers as "a journey", saying: "We want them to take a journey with us, starting in the morning when they check their messages and e-mail, even before they have coffee and read the paper. Throughout the day, we want to connect with them in the many ways they connect with the world."

For instance, content on various platforms is timed to suit readers' habits, while both "fast journalism" - breaking news - and "slow journalism" - analytical, in-depth pieces are delivered.

One successful integrated approach was SPH's print and video coverage of Singapore's founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew's death and lying-in-state.

Mr Daniel made audiences sit up and take notice with his description of how SPH diversified its revenue and identified new opportunities. For instance, it grew its magazine business from five titles in 2003 to 100 titles this year, including spa and boating magazines in India. It also started Tabla, a weekly publication targeting the English-speaking Indian community, in 2008.

"Wherever there is white space, we want to occupy it," he said.

Mr Daniel also noted: "There's an ecosystem around newspapers that can generate profits if editors put their minds to it.

"The moment you see an opportunity, go for it. You never know what it might grow into."

Twenty-one winners of the World Young Reader Prizes, including The Straits Times, will receive their prizes today.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 03, 2015, with the headline ''Integrated journeys keep readers connected''. Print Edition | Subscribe