Publishing platforms are expanding from URL to IRL with programming and activities to enhance content and attract new audiences.

Tortoise ThinkIn

The media industry is in a state of flux. As millennials’ appetite for new ways to engage with content grows, traditional media brands are morphing into multimedia entities. Magazines like Glamour UK, Teen Vogue and Self are shifting from print to digital, while legacy publishers like Conde Nast are evolving into all-encompassing entertainment brands with original podcasts and video content.

Now, the latest wave of media transformation sees news outlets and media platforms moving off the screen – or page – altogether, delivering content via in-person performances and events.

FT on Stage. Image courtesy of Bobbin Productions.

In April 2019, readers of the Financial Times were invited to receive their daily dose of news in a live show experience in the UK. In collaboration with Live Magazine, the FT concocted ‘FT on Stage,’ where journalists and columnists took to the stage to perform original pieces of content. The event saw ten FT commentators and reporters and an illustrator share captivating stories covering everything from celebrity news to historical rivalries. The event served as an exploration of new ways to share content and build an emotional connection between writer and audience. “The idea is to try to broaden the audience’s perception of what Financial Times journalism and journalists are about,” said Renée Kaplan, head of audience engagement at the Financial Times. “By putting faces and voices to stories through literal story-telling, it creates a different, we hope more meaningful, connection to our journalism.” 

FT on Stage. Image courtesy of Bobbin Productions.

Sky news UK have also taken the live approach to expand their content with their pop-up channel Sky News Raw: Behind the Scenes in February 2019. By downloading the sky news app individuals could tune in to a live feed and join in on editorial meetings, live studio recordings and outside broadcasts. ‘Slow-news’ startup Tortoise also began taking its newsroom out into the real-world in March 2019 with the first of their open news conferences, “ThinkIns.” For the live event, the team relocated their hub to a refugee camp in Lesbos to host a discussion on migration, inviting local migrants and Greek islanders to the talk. The startup plans to shift the news industry with more open events and destination tours.

Stylist Strong

Style and wellness publishers are also tapping into immersive content-sharing strategies as a way to reengage audiences. In April 2019, Stylist Group have opened their branded gym in London, Stylist Strong, aiming to focus on strength training programs and events. To accompany the gym, they’ve also created a content platform sharing practical and psychological information on strength training. “We’re starting with a studio as opposed to content; the studio becomes the content: We’re doing it in reverse,” explained Stylist CEO Ella Dolphin.

Athleta and Well+Good's Wellness Collective

In March, Athleta and Well+Good partnered in the US to create Wellness Collective, bringing holistic female thought leaders and innovators together. Spanning across four categories – mind and body, self-care, finance and career and community – Wellness Collective will host regular monthly events across Athleta’s stores in the US from March 2019 through January 2020. A digital hub will run alongside the events, publishing key insights and takeaways. “Women are looking for a central resource to unlock information about the physical, emotional, and mental elements that build a strong foundation for their active lifestyle and athletic journey,” said Nancy Green, President and CEO of Athleta. “Wellness Collective is that one resource that can truly be disruptive by combining the power of on-and-offline communities to reach women everywhere.”

“The new democracy in media is that if you have a flagship product and grow a following around that, you’re able to leverage it into more ambitious, larger projects,” Stephen Satterfield, who founded the quarterly food magazine Whetstone, told the New York Times. These brands are doing just that, continuing the trend of mediavolution by flipping the script and building content sharing around curated, in-person programming for more targeted, intentional consumption.

For more on the evolution of media outlets, see trend #32 in The Future 100: 2019.