Media companies are focused on delivering information to their audiences. In the old days, it was all about printed editions. Today, there’s an emphasis on expertise in all things digital. Some media companies are going an extra step to bring in revenue and connect with their audiences – it’s all about conferences and other events according to a recent New York Times article.
Some big names are already into this trend with the New York Times sponsoring several conferences this year. The Wall Street Journal and the New Yorker also operate in this space. Leslie Kaufman notes that live conferences are important for digital-only media firms, as well. These events provide revenue from “ticket sales and corporate sponsorship.” With larger events generating several million dollars in revenue, companies are finding they can count on this activity annually.
It’s not just large media companies that are finding revenue in events. The New York Times article reports that events contribute 20% to the bottom line for The Atlantic and smaller publications like the Texas Tribune are generating significant event revenue. What kind of events are being held? Typically, they focus on a topic of interest to the media company’s audience. For example, The New Yorker’s festival featured thought leaders and authors like Jonathan Franzen. Technology sites often focus on business-related conferences.
Some industry watchers believe this foray into events crosses an ethical line with respect to conflict of interest. Others, like Thomas Rosenstiel, executive director of the American Press Institute, believe it’s time to change the definition of a news organization to acknowledge how information is created and presented.
What do you think of this trend? Has your media company started to run events in the local market?