« Standing still is regression »

Interview with Ioana Sträter, New World Encounters

This interview was published in the summer 2020 issue of PreMedia Newsletter (PMN), a German magazine specialised in the media industry. Thanks to Karl Malik for accepting the publication in english.

Crises always offer opportunities for new beginnings. Together with David Sallinen of Upgrade Media, Managing Director Ioana Sträter of QuestiQ launched the exchange platform New World Encounters. The aim is a dynamic and professional exchange across borders and industries. The first project is a virtual tour in September and October 2020, an exchange between French and German media managers on the topic of generating digital revenues before, during and after Corona virus pandemic. New World Encounters’ Cooperation partner in France is the national association Alliance de la Presse. In Germany, the BDZV is the cooperation partner. Confirmed participants are already national media organizations Libération and 20 Minutes, local media like La Voix du Nord, la Dépêche du Midi, Sogemedia, and even international media houses like the Wall Street Journal. The participants are a mix of CEO’s, digital and innovation managers.

PMN: Dear Ioana, you always find yourself in constant motion. Congratulations on this idea. What is the background to this new initiative in which you were able to win the Funke Media Group and the renowned leading quality newspaper Die Zeit for the first sessions?

Ioana Sträter. Dear Karl, talking with you is always a pleasure. It has become clear to me what extraordinary changes the last few years have brought about in the media industry. Transformation, digitalization, innovation and the generational change have brought a breath of fresh air into the media houses. On the other hand, the well-known business model problem is still there. Almost all media houses are working at full speed on the topic of digital products monetisation. That fascinated me. I noticed a new receptiveness and curiosity for the topics such as new technologies, digitalization, paid content, content performance, data analytics. So many new things have emerged: new organizational models, new teams and tasks, new cooperations between editorial staff, marketing and IT. Everything that is happening right now is so rich and exciting. One has to acknowledge it and exchange ideas to inspire others. There is a song called « Love is in the air ». In the media houses « Innovation is in the air » 😊

David Sallinen, CEO of Upgrade Media and I used to work together at WAN-IFRA. When David told me about his idea to create a German-French exchange for media managers, it fell on very fertile ground. We both know that there is no standard answer for media innovation and transformation. Every media company has to find its own formula for success – a formula based primarily on its own organizational culture and its particular market threats and opportunities. But we are also convinced that an open exchange with colleagues who have previously followed the same path of transformation will be inspiring and ultimately profitable.

This is how the virtual tour on the topic of Digital Revenues came about. As basis for further projects, virtual or face-to-face, we have created the exchange platform New World Encounters. The next projects will be announced in September 2020.

« Bringing people together, enabling cooperation and innovation, giving inspiration and courage across borders and industries, that was and is my passion »

Ioana Strater, New World Encounters

PMN: Could you please introduce the founding initiators, your company QuestiQ and David Sallinen from Upgrade Media to our readers and digital subscribers?

IS: Bringing people together, enabling cooperation and innovation, giving inspiration and courage across borders and industries, that was and is my passion. In order to pursue these goals in a more focused way, I founded my company QuestiQ last year. QuestiQ’s goal is to demystify the innovation process. There are many prejudices regarding innovation. Many people believe that they need a special talent to innovate. But anyone can be innovative. You don’t need magic formulas to win the innovation game. You just need the right inspiration, the right attitude and some courage, then innovation becomes a rewarding and exciting process, not an unattainable goal.

I see innovation as the change that creates and implements more efficient processes, develops more dynamic products, improves services and brings new ideas into the organization. Innovation is at the core of business growth.

In David Sallinen I have found a like-minded person with whom I share the same goals and values. We have known each other for over 10 years and have worked together excellently before. David founded Upgrade Media in France last year. He is a seasoned media, digital and transformation expert with an impressive track record and a global perspective on the media industry. His network in France gives him a deep insight into the needs of the French media market. He told me: « Publishers certainly need support and advice, but they also need to grow by looking at what is happening elsewhere. These are all good reasons to go on a new mission. Will you help me? » That’s how New World Encounters and our media innovation project came to be.

NWE Digital Revenue Growth – 2020

PMN: What are the strategic goals of New World Encounters in an undoubtedly difficult, economically crisis-ridden time? What benefits can those who are willing to pay expect from this digital event?

IS: Especially during this crisis, our core theme of the tour « Digital Revenue Growth » is essential and highly relevant. There is nothing more important than digital revenue growth in the search for the digital business model of the future.

The media houses we visit during the virtual « Digital Revenues » tour are a good example. There is a lot of experimentation, some things work well, but many things do not succeed. Sharing these experiences can be groundbreaking and inspiring for other colleagues. Ruth Betz, Head of Digital Transformation at Funke Medien, told me that a Scandinavian study tour was also the kick-off for the transformation journey at Funke. I hope our speakers and their projects will inspire our French colleagues.

PMN: How should this new digital format work in practice? Will it allow bi-directional communication, for example, when questions are asked by the participants will they be given a live answer?

IS: There is a certain webinar fatigue at the moment. We want to stand out from the standard webinar model and offer a « virtual tour » in which more experience, community feeling and exchange are possible. However, the devil is in the details, as they say. We have introduced a three step process:

– Market research

– Exchange with many online event experts

– Testing-Testing-Testing

For the time being we plan to use the Digital Fishbowl (same number of speakers is always switched on even if the occasionally change) and maybe virtual breakout rooms. But the digital format of the tour is still a « work in progress ».

« In practice, we want to create a strong interaction during the sessions and in order to facilitate this we also want to start animating this new community of « media transformers » by providing them with background elements and the latest trend to enable them to interact and involve them well before the sessions. We aim to create a unique experience  » says David.

This is a challenge we want to take on.

PMN: There are six digital events: two in Hamburg, two in Berlin, one each in Düsseldorf and Stuttgart. Which speakers and contents can the participants prepare their questions for?

IS: New World Encounters wants to take participants on an exciting virtual tour through media innovation. The latest success stories in the area of digital sales growth are told by media houses such as ZEIT, Funke – Hamburger Abendblatt, Media Pioneer, Axel Springer – WELT, Business Insider, BDZV, Stuttgarter Zeitung. The topics covered are paid content, digital subscriptions, diversification, e-commerce, advertising through to the creation of new products and the acquisition of new customers.

A program overview looks like this:

Day 1 – Digital Subscription in the Pandemic Age, Time Online

17.09.2020 / 10:00-11:30 / Hamburg / Time with Christian Röpke

Day 2 – The Spectacular Growth and Digital Acceleration Story Funke and Hamburg Abendblatt

18.09.2020 / 10:00-11:30 / Hamburg /with Ruth Betz and Berndt Röttger

Day 3 – Content Performance & Monetising Quality Journalism at Media Pioneer and Welt+

24.09.2020 / 10:00-11:30 / Berlin / With Max Franke and Arndt Stessun

Day 4 – Programmatic Advertising and Business Partnerships at Business Insider and BDZV

25.09.2020 / 10:00-11:30 / Berlin / With Romanus Otte and Holger Kansky

Day 5 – Winning in the innovation game

01.10.2020 / 10:00-11:30 / Düsseldorf / With Daniel Daum and Moritz Döbler

Day 6 – Paid Content, Newsletter and Change Management at Stuttgarter Zeitung and Südwestdeutsche Medienholding
02.10.2020 / 10:00–11:30 / Stuttgart / with André Kittelberger and Björn Friebe

PMN: Dear Ioana, I wish you good luck and I am looking forward to our media cooperation.

IS. Thank you, dear Karl, so am I. And I am looking forward to virtually seeing you and your readers in September.

Ioana Sträter. Founder of QuestiQ. Ioana Sträter is a crossindustry innovation expert, with more than 15 years expertise in media. Founder of QuestiQ, she helps organizations to tap the real potential of their growth.