This blog post is one of several written by attendees of the Philadelphia Innovation Mission, Oct. 16-18, 2019, which focused on consumer revenue and digital transformation. We asked recipients of the Google News Initiative Innovation Mission scholarships to provide insight into their experience. Patricia Abraham, integrated marketing strategist at Carolina Panorama, shares about her lessons with digital subscriptions. 

Patricia Abraham

My training started before I left Columbia, S.C. A questionnaire was sent to us by Nancy Lane and her team. Nancy encouraged everyone to answer the questions best they could. She noted that some of the attendees have not started a subscription strategy yet. I shared with my colleagues that we have 2,788 subscribers, without really having a strategy.

The leadership team started the Best in Class Digital Subscription program with everyone introducing themselves and stating what they hope to accomplish from attending the Philadelphia Innovation Mission. We were at different levels on the digital subscription spectrum – some with a 100% digital strategy and some just testing the waters. One even had a two-subscription model – a paid subscriber and non-paid subscriber model. None of us really know how to navigate the waters. We were told that experimentation and collaboration will be our friend. How long do we have to experiment? Experimenting is an ongoing activity, as we learned from Pete Doucette. One thing that echoed out in the room: “Yes, people will pay.”

We spent the next couple of days learning from the executives as their guests around the conference table from the following media companies: The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Lenfest Institute, The Beasley Media Group and WHYY. Each media visit was different, but the same. Different in the feel and business model, but the same in that each of these company executives rolled out the red carpet to the Innovation Mission attendees and poured their hearts out to us by sharing their business model plans and projects. They even shared proprietary information, their hopes, goals and fears. So once again, we saw that we are all the same – just on different levels of the spectrum.

By the last visit, we had heard or seen the subscription funnel multiple times. On Thursday evening we sat in on a symposium led by Nancy Lane and three guest panelists focused on “The State of Local Media.”

The Innovation Mission left me filled with lots of ideas and information. My newfound friends in media and the connections I made will help along the way. Despite the tremendous changes and upheaval in our industry, I am now very confident about our future.