Thursday, November 8, 2007

The Art of the Media Launch

If you went to the NYU Center for Publishing’s “Art of the Media Launch” looking only for practical tips from media gurus Arianna Huffington (, Susan Lyne (CEO, Martha Stewart Omnimedia), Craig Newmark (Founder,, and Laurel Touby (Founder,, you might have come away disappointed. The inimitable moderator, David Carr, teased his all-star panelists quite a bit, getting them to talk about their new favorite gadgets, how they deal with naysayers, and what keeps them focused on their vision, but most of the nitty gritty advice (i.e. how do you fund a new site anyway? What about Google? Getting traffic?) came during the brief audience Q and A.

Carr asked about obstacles and getting over them: On the day The Huffington Post launched, the
LA Times panned it saying the site was “the web version of Gigli.” Huffington has since memorized it, channeling the negativity into more verve and “fearlessness” (which she talks about in her oft-plugged book, On Becoming Fearless). About the “Gawker chick” who ragged on the notorious boa she’s worn to media parties since 1994, Touby said focusing on the hundreds of thousands of media people who “voted [for her] with their dollars” at kept her going. Lyne talked about being very publicly fired from ABC and bouncing back to head Martha Stewart's empire.

When Carr asked the group their thoughts on
Facebook, “social advertising,” and behavioral ads, saying he felt like “[advertisers'] hands are a little too far up my skirt,” Newmark emphasized the need for transparency through opt-ins and full disclosure from advertisers. Huffington handled the issue in an equally straitforward manner. When Toyota signed on as an advertiser, she asked readers to take pictures of themselves with their Priuses and posted them on her site. All agreed there’s never been a better time to start a media business. It’s less expensive (Huffington started with $1 million, Touby and Newmark with “nothing,” and Martha Stewart was the exception of course). Touby pointed out the importance of good market research, understanding your audience, and figuring out what people will (and won’t) pay for.

No comments: