BRANDING

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Untether.tv 

Entrepreneur and startup coach, Rob Woodbridge has deep roots in Ottawa’s technology community.  Woodbridge is experienced in startup development, but recently he pivoted into storytelling. With some simple, cheap equipment Woodbridge brings mobile and new media stories to his subscribers. Check it out.

He says this web based TV show allows him to get to the CEOs who might like to hire him for his advice in digital, mobile and media innovation. For Woodbridge untether.tv is all about reaching out and brand building.

“Now that I do it, I love doing it. It’s addictive,” said Woodbridge.

“I’m not a journalist. I actually hate the fact I love it. But I’d rather be doing this than anything else right now.”

Not long ago Woodbridge spent a year inside Post Media, trying to help the vast, traditional media operation figure out how to make it into the future by developing a digital strategy. Woodbridge says when it comes to the churn and change of the media industry, newspapers are the canary in the coal mine.

“At some point TV will suffer even more.”

One answer, according to Woodbridge (and he’s definitely not alone in this) is the development of hyper-local news, and making that news, its collection and delivery more audience focused.

“Like having mobile ads pop up, depending on where the phone owner is,” said Woodbridge. “Look at niche blogs, there’s a ton of money to be made.”

His advice to the young, entrepreneurial journalist: Go out and interview people – what do they want? Brand yourself. And then do content marketing.

“How do you create a market? Tell your story. Then use analytics to see what’s resonating with people.”

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A visit to Nieman Lab – Cambridge, Mass.

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Not far from Harvard Square, down a cobblestone path, is an historic New England mansion housing the Nieman Journalism Lab.

This is where great journalists come – Nieman Fellows – to think, reflect, listen and share ideas about the state of the industry. And given the current climate of this business, there’s plenty of reflection and thought needed when it comes to moving forward.

Josh Benton is director of the Nieman Lab.

“It’s a newsroom and think tank,” explained Benton. “A mix of technology, journalism and academia.”

After offering me a cup of green tea we sit down to chat in a parlor with big comfy chairs, surrounded by floor to ceiling bookshelves. After hashing out the problems facing journalism and how it’s been disrupted by great innovations, we move on to the next next thing.

Inside Harvard Nieman

Click photo to see video inside Harvard Nieman

“Mobile is now first,” said Benton.

At Nieman, a lot of time is spent looking at how new applications and platforms are coming on-line, what’s working, what’s making money, what’s changing the story. Here are just a few projects/organizations Benton highlights:

NowThis news:  is a start-up that produces news videos for a young audience. It was founded by former Huffington Post guys: Kenneth Lerer and Eric Hippeau. This company produces more than 50 daily video updates for Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Vine and Youtube. The video items are produced in small, digestible 6, 15 or 30 second chunks, to be viewed on mobile and tablet devices. These micro stories are presented by fast talkers with faster music running in the background. This is definitely designed to deliver quick news to a specific audience.

PBS Digital Studio on Youtube: This is a network of web-original content from PBS and member stations from across the United States. “Not your average PBS” as its twitter profile notes. Benton says these videos are designed specifically for the digital medium and “they work”. (Here’s a Forbe’s review.) These 3-8 minute videos include a popular remix of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood that went viral with more than 9 million views so far. PBS Digital content is “educational and intellectual” and created for a youtube audience. Check out the Julia Child remix. The video is beautifully edited with music, sound. And the producers obviously did their research to understand and appreciate the character.

 iPolitics: Yes, he had a Canadian example. In fact, this guy Benton is a Canadaphile. (This comes up a couple of times during my visit and at one point a Nieman staffer walks by and laughs in our direction – Benton is apparently known for his odd love affair with his northern neighbour.) So he likes iPolitics and says it’s created some “unique opportunities”. I, too, am a fan, but would like to see even more creative digital-first journalism  coming out of this hopeful start-up.

While Benton has great respect for Canucks, he also scolds us for not having nearly the same drive for innovation on the media side – suggesting we’re at least five years behind the U.S. both when it comes to enterprising academic discussion and encouraging a media start-up culture.

We have our work cut out for us.