BlogHer09 Keynotes: Traditional Media Chops Meet a New Media Calling

Notes from the BlogHer09 keynote, lightly edited. Please feel free to comment and add your insights.

Moderator: Lisa Stone, co-founder of BlogHer

Panelists: Tina Brown, The Daily Beast, Donna Byrd, The Root and Ilene Chaiken, The L Word

Tina

Print is a locked in medium. She loves online because she can find new quickly find new voices

Donna

Asked to talk about the arrest of www.theroot.com’s editor for attempting to break into his own home after coming home from a trip from China and finding he was locked out of his own home. The story sparked a debate across the country about racial profiling. On the site, they tried to present both sides of the story. They’re not blocking very many comments. President Obama left a comment.

Lisa

What opportunities with social media do you have to address the story - what does social media change for you?

Donna

In 2001, blackamericaweb - got comments, but still rather slow. People are really using social media to spread stories and engage people in your site.

Ilene

There are a host of shows starting to represent gay men. It’s not about a belief in the spending power of the demographics, a great deal of research shows there's lots of spending power out there. Her next step: continue to try in every possible way to do more TV shows. Digital is the future of how LBGT stories will be told. How do we get beyond the boxes and rectangles - what different business models are your trying?

Tina

Going for the integrated advertising, looking for upper echelon, quality advertisers, creating modules themselves that are interesting to look at. Being very collaborative with advertisers, now over 2M uniques in a short space of time. Will start to see the new ads mostly in the first quarter of next year, working to be there when budgets free up, which is happening now. Other ways to grow traffic are important, build 3 or 4 revenue streams around your brand: TV, events, Video, conferences with sponsorship - all ways to make money. Really only a stopgap in next 2-3 years, everything is coming online. Frankly, it is coming away from print to online. As of next year, 50% of advertisers said we're coming out of print and going online. Finding all kinds of makeshift ways to keep going as the cultural shift is happening, it's coming this way.

Donna

Vibe magazine is shutting down, African American mag shut down, advertisers still looking for ways to reach niche audiences, places that can provide a true relationship with their readers. In 2001, they created ads for their advertisers, just a display ad online, no true interaction. Today, mini-ads looking at PPC, conversion, much more exciting and challenging world in that you really have to be able to prove that you have an understanding of your audience and you have a relationship with them. Readers wind up benefiting from the relationship that you have.

Lisa

Extremely time-intensive and if you're off and there isn't that match with that community, doesn’t work. Hot button in blog community: product placement. FTC addressing this summer. How do you work with product placement?

Ilene

Product placement is very controversial in TV and film, more openly acknowledged now than it was. In film and pay cable, they made some deals. Mercedes-Benz made some investment in capital. Audience is uneasy unless it's done artfully and seamlessly. As we move online, we're looking more at partnerships.

LGBT consumer is more loyal and more more inclined to support advertisers that support them and will invest in their stories. The first year of The L Word – they couldn't find a single company to step up and finally Subaru stepped up as the first company to step into the LGBT space.

Donna

We’re looking at more of an affiliate, not product placement, in the context of what they're producing. For example the top 10 list of hot gadgets - looking at it from an editorial standpoint.

Lisa

Do you accept payment?

Ilene

Only if we acknowledge that it's advertorial.

Tina

One highlight that says sponsored. The rest of the layout is like other pages, but it is clearly labeled. You can create an environment that's subtle, but creative. Media audiences are more sophisticated, the more you can find a way to develop a template and preserve the editorial so it works for the advertiser and the readers the better.

Questions

Loyal audience of mom entrepreneurs - is there a future for niche sites or will be consolidated. Katherine Lewis, Current Mom, group blog for entrepreneurial mothers.

Donna

Moved into an era of citizen journalism, there are advertisers that are hungry for audiences, the challenge is to be able to package to be appealing. If you have a one on one relationship with their customers, get together with blogs similar to yours, if you advertise in their space, likelihood is much greater that they'll reach the people more closely.

Liza Berry Kessler - lizaishere.com, Is BlogHer a model for other niche communities to come with an aggregating way to reach advertisers?

Tina

The future: small blogs create their own constellations to build a substantial niche, groups of 20 or 30 blogs together with aligned cultural sensibility.

Donna

The key is to differentiate yourself. You have to be clear about what you bring that's different from other sites: moms between 25-45. Come in as a collective, make sure everyone in your group has a like-minded group.

Ilene

The challenge is figuring out where our alliances are: men, women, sexual orientation?

Lisa

There is no question about the importance of marketing and sales. There is an evolution to the growing into a marketing and sales-worthy community. She’s impressed with how much time the panelists have spent with the BlogHer community this week.

Tina

She’s finding women here who have stories, exciting to be hear from them.

Lisa

Marketing is the next step for anyone who wants to tell their story.

Question from hopefulparents.com Why be so careful with product placement and editorial? If you're doing editorial why are you saying this product is sponsored by a company?

Lisa

The FTC is concerned about making sure there is disclosure and is taking the blogosphere into what TV and print has been held to. Is there something that combining that could be negatively perceived? Women control 83% of household income.

Ilene

It's about transparency

Brenda - women's music, marketing and consulting for LGBT community.

Lisa

Core to The L Word was sexuality - talking about what's not safe for work. Is that a legitimate way to drive traffic or is it a cheat?

Ilene

IT’s a choice and personal, certainly not a cheat, anybody who's looking for anything should be able to find anything. The reason for the show to exist was to tell stories about sexuality and then everything around it.

Tina

There’s no question that sexy stuff does very well. In The Daily Beast it has to have a witty idea, has to be throwing light on the culture. Example: women finding a sugar daddy in this economy, a woman wrote about it, the sugar daddy told his side, a trend in this economy, story did very well. Stuff about sexuality in the news, keys: good idea, good writer, value - 10 women over 50 who look fabulous in a swimsuit.

Donna

One top story - picture is a story of Serena's backside. Sex sells there's no doubt about it. The Root is trying to make sure that they’re incorporating stories about news and culture, try not to go just for sexy things to get traffic.

Tina

One of the things that's been exciting about The Daily Beast is that politics does extremely well. You can actually tap a vein of discourse.

Ilene

Draw a distinction between sex to sell anything and telling stories about sexuality

Question from Theresa of ChicagoNow.com, which pairs bloggers and then reverse publishes as an online community. How do mainstream media companies integrate what bloggers do best?

Tina

Mainstream media has a tough time answering that question, It’s very very difficult. Easier to grow a site away from mainstream media in a sense. The whole question of who's a journalist and who's a blogger is getting more blurred. Bloggers have a distinct voice, a lot of journalists are hiding behind facts. Some journalists adapt really to the web. It’s very interesting to watch the new mind meld. Soon there won't be a distinction.

Question- content side of things - how do you deal with conflicts with what the community wants versus what youwant to write about? How does audience react to it?

Ilene

Very different approach to television versus an online community. When she first started doing The L Word, she made the mistake of not considering the audience. She realized there was an interesting conversation going on around her. She took it all in and admits to having been moved by fan community.

Lisa - who killed Jenny?

Ilene

Will be addressed in The L Word movie - now in process.

Donna

Be clear in terms of voice. Listen to readers on a regular basis. The Root readers want more lifestyle content - how do they do it in a way that still feels like The Root?

Tina

Pays a great deal of attention to comments. She always reads them and listens to them. The Daily Beast readers are a smart and informed audience, they like some intellectual rhythm.

Image Credit @phoebejeebies

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