Law of the instrument

“It is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.”

So it was no surprise that a survey of the newspaper and magazine industries by the ValueNotes Sourcing Practice (“dedicated to researching the outsourcing industry“) found that “growing dependence on digital presence means that providers have an opportunity to help publishers address varied forms, software, platforms and devices.”

The survey also found that “(newspaper and magazine) buyers remain yet to be convinced. Value addition is likely to remain an in-house task for many publishers, unless service providers can demonstrate significant capability.”

Thank heavens.

I was asked recently if it is possible to launch a publication by substantially outsourcing its components, and I answered, “Yes; that model is increasingly the norm these days.”

If I’d been asked, “What do you think about outsourcing the business processes that add value?”, my answer would have been simply, “That’s a bad idea.” Giving another firm the right and responsibility to add value hands my business to a third party. In time, perhaps in short order, I engender my own competition.

Yes, some firms are strategically placing bets on two futures. But giving a third party responsibility for your added value: where’s the sense in that?

As content providers cut staff deeply and persistently, it becomes even more important to remember that they need to own and extend their relationships with their reading communities. Those relationships are seldom a function of production or even marketing. They are rooted in the creation of and engagement with content, something publishers should be reluctant to outsource.

About Brian O'Leary

Founder and principal of Magellan Media Consulting, Brian O’Leary helps enterprises with media and publishing components capitalize on the power of content. A veteran of more than 30 years in the publishing industry and a prolific content producer himself, Brian leverages the breadth and depth of his experience to deliver innovative content solutions.

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