With the rise of the internet and the decline of print revenue, the media industry has been shaken. The rise of the internet has allowed for many journalistic startups, including many online independents, such as Talking Points Memo, The Huffington Post (before it was sold to AOL), and Voice of San Diego, to name a few. Jeff Jarvis, one of the leading voices for innovation in journalism, put together a list of entrepreneurial lessons to consider when pitching an idea for a startup.
First, Jarvis described the need to be short and clear in elevator pitches. “If you can’t describe what you’re doing – to customers as well as investors – in 17 words, then you’ll probably trying to do too much,” he writes. I find 17 words to be a very precise number but a good indicator of how short Jarvis believes elevator pitches should be. It is often tempting for startups to try to do too much, and the startups with a more specific mission and vision are usually more successful. Being able to concisely explain the mission is essential in a startup, as well as understanding the competition the site would face.
Many of Jarvis’ lists of entrepreneurial lessons do not relate to content, however. Jarvis describes the need to formulate marketing plans to raise awareness of the websites they were planning on launching. Jarvis also described how he taught a lot about advertising and selling ads. He wrote, “I’m glad I spent a lot of time on advertising, getting down to the details of CPM, CPC, CPA, RPM, and all that. It was foreign to all the students — as it is to many or most journalists — but as they well understood, this is how they’re going to eat.” These entrepreneurial lessons about ad sales is something I have not yet learned in any of my classes, co-curricular work or internship experiences. I hope to learn more about ad sales before I graduate in case I find myself in the situation where I am pitching a journalism startup.
I found Jarvis’ list of entrepreneurial lessons to be very interesting, as well as eye-opening. Although I feel very comfortable with the content side of journalism entrepreneurship, I feel like I have a lot to learn about advertising and marketing before I were able to launch a journalism startup.