How Brazilian media company Grupo RBS transformed its newsroom
In 2016, RBS undertook group wide transformation that has seen them merge their main businesses, television, radio and newspapers, sell off five of their eight newspapers and change most of their senior leadership.
Besides a shift in the business model, the new reality of the digital transformation brought along new changes in the commercial and operational side of all media properties. We discuss how RBS used design thinking to facilitate newsroom transformation.
The right people in the right place
‘’This person is from marketing and is responsible together with the newsroom to evaluate every single piece of product that we have using data. Whenever we’re deciding on a new product, designing the weekend edition or even changing columnists, marketing is involved to make sure our brand is aligned with those decisions taken with the newsroom.’’
Having implemented a structure that combines marketing within the newsroom, Petterle insists that although it was a hard process, it ultimately paid dividends for the publisher. Now, marketing shares all product decisions with the newsroom, and the latter has no total power over what to launch: everything must be supported by data and market research in order to optimise their editorial offering.
“Consumers are our king,” she added. “We began using the design thinking process, especially in our newsrooms, because we have to understand what our audience wants, and what our clients and our advertisers want, and once you start doing that, you can’t stop.”
“Marketing used to be a support area and we’d only see results after a few months of implementing a campaign. Now we built these squads that work all together to make changes to the campaigns on a daily basis with the sole focus on acquiring users.’’
Petterle does clarify that although the newsroom has lost editorial power over distribution, their autonomy over content production remains completely intact: ‘’We have so much data related to the reader journey that we know exactly what kind of content that people are looking for, and when (for example, what kind of content to push out at 4 p.m.). The editors have the call to decide what is in the front page and the stories that they do, but they have to follow the guidelines and they have to listen to the data that we have.’’
Read further: You need hard facts to change newsrooms
Reshaping the newsroom: from agile to design thinking
‘’I used to be the managing director of the newspaper business unit. Now I take care of television, radio and newspapers, products and operations and then all the subscriptions.” This change to a unified offering seems to be the key to their success.
Last year, RBS started implementing the agile methodology with all the other areas of the company, especially for marketing which they integrated with the newsroom, thus trying to change the way they work in an innovative way that’s constantly adapting. This has transformed the way RBS designed their newsrooms as well as how they decide on their portfolio of products.
Read further: How has design thinking propelled Le Monde forward
Next, we’ll discover how RBS is sustaining print, using it to fuel the growth of its digital assets.