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Regional Dominance, International Success: a Strategy for Newspapers in the Digital Era

With headquarters in the Vorarlberg region of Austria, it would be easy to regard Russmedia as a typical regional newspaper company. But with 10 daily newspapers, 80 weekly papers, and more than 100 portals that reach nearly 20 million unique users every month, it is so much more.

The company's two-part strategy – locally oriented in Austria, Hungary and Romania, and more widely international thanks to digital – is something that many newspaper companies can identify with, and will be featured at the World Newspaper Congress, to be held in Torino, Italy, from 9 to 11 June next.

What sets Russmedia apart is its visionary leader, Eugen Russ, who believes in creating companies that meet new needs, even if they might compete with his established ones.

"Very early we built up new digital ventures – also in the region – and we did not try to protect the newspaper," he recently told WAN-IFRA's World News Publishing Focus. "On the contrary, the people on the regional portals tried to kill the newspaper. We encouraged them to do that. We also encouraged people at the newspaper to stay alive and to react against the online competitor, to build new assets and to be self-confident."

Russmedia has separate teams for everything. There's almost no editorial sharing and no cooperation among brands. The same goes for advertising, with the exception of a handful of key national accounts. "All the rest is done in heavy competition, and we strongly believe in that," he says.

Mr Russ will speak at the Congress in a session entitled "The Game Changers."

Other confirmed speakers include:

- John Paton, CEO of Digital First Media in the United States;

- Gary Pruitt, President and CEO of The Associated Press;

- Guy Black, Executive Director of Telegraph Media Group in the United Kingdom;

- David Callaway, Editor-in-Chief, USA Today;

- Janine Gibson, Editor-in-Chief of Guardian US;

- Andrew Betts, Director of FT Labs of the Financial Times, UK;

- Yoichi Nishimura, Board Director and Digital Business Director of The Asahi Shimbun and Corporate Representative Director of The Huffington Post Japan;

- Gabriel Kahn, Director of Future of Journalism at the Annenberg Innovation Lab, USA;

- Robyn Tomlin, Editor, Digital First Media's Project Thunderdome, USA;

- Jason Seiken,  Content Director, The Telegraph, UK;

-- Ernst-Jan Pfauth, Publisher, De Correspondent, Netherlands and former Editor-in-chief of Internet at NRC Media;

-- Eduardo Campos Pellanda, Director, Ubilab, Brazil, which works with Grupo RBS in Brazil to develop strategies and products for the newspaper's future.

The 66th World Newspaper Congress, 21st World Editors Forum and 24th World Advertising Forum is the most significant annual gathering of the world's newspapers and news publishers. The events provide best case studies and presentations by global industry leaders on subjects of pressing concern to the news industry: new digital revenues, innovation; strategies in turbulent times; newsroom evolution; audience loyalty; advertising networks; multimedia operations; and much more.

Alongside the Congress, Editors Forum and Advertising Forum, Info Services Expo 2014 will present innovative solutions from the international suppliers' community, and a unique "Energy Lounge" will provide a look at emerging, interesting and exciting technological products and services that might have an impact on news media in the future.

As always, the events are accompanied by an array of social events, gala dinners and lunches and are considered to be the premier opportunity to meet colleagues from around the world.

Partners in the events include the City of Torino, Turismo Torino e Provincia Convention Bureau, La Stampa and RCS Quotidiani. Official sponsors include Fiat Chrysler and La Stampa.

www.wan-ifra.org

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