Creating a Sustainable Media Business

When things are shaken up – as it is the case in these days – many turn to a long-term view of the economy. It is also important to have a long-term perspective for your business. After all, most of us want to create or work with a company that is not only a fast-lived fashion phenomenon but a solid enterprise. True entrepreneurship was always grounded in the fundamental idea to build something that lasts – forever, ideally.

Here is where the idea of sustainability comes into play. When you consider all your business decisions under the magnifying glass of its sustainability dimension, you should automatically build a business that will last for a long time. In fact, one of the lessons that you learn, when you engage in sustainability perspective management, is that you should think as far in the future as at least seven generations. The First Nations, in fact, had something like a 7th Generation council to ponder their decisions and make sure that future generations will look back gratefully to their ancestors.

What elements make a great sustainability strategy?

For the broadcast and media industry we have identified five areas of focus that affect the sustainability of your business dramatically. We have specifically excluded at this stage to focus on the rather narrow aspect of ecological impact only. In our belief, that should be a given for any business that wants to be around in the next decade. Hence we look at sustainability impacts beyond that: our suggestions focus rather on what makes a business strategy and a enterprise in the broadcast industry – and in media at large – sustainable and successful for many generations to come? Here are our five key areas:Relevance


Relevance stands out as the first and foremost key driver for a successful media business. You have to stay relevant to your audience – otherwise you go extinct. That means you have to continuously tune in what your key markets expect from you and deliver such ‘product’. If you fail to listen, you fail to stay relevant. A media outlet that provides the services and media products that stick with their audience, will continue to have loyal customers. In that content you always need to monitor how your audience is using your product – and you need to be in all relevant distribution channels. The audience will build a community around your product and fostering this sense of community is a crucial element of creating relevance, too. It is also your sounding board and early alert system. More than that; a community is a sustainability feature in itself. For this, you need to give your community also meaning and a sense of purpose.


Speaking of meaning and community: keep these characteristics in mind when thinking of your workforce. If you want to have a sustainable media business, your workforce is your indeed the greatest force you have to create sustainability. And your workforce expects a sense of meaning and purpose in what they are doing. Give a feeling of community and that you work for something more than just your pay cheque and your workforce will excel. You are also able to attract the best talent in your industry. Nurturing your workforce without any restrictions will result in great, relevant products.


The best, engaged workforce will ride on creativity and innovation. These are also key drivers when it comes to build sustainable businesses. You need to have people who think out of the box and are willing to take risks. Allow for an environment where it is ok to make errors. Trial and error are often the best fertilizer for innovation. Think of how your products can creativily enhance your customer community and be more relevant for them. Be also very creative when developing your products in terms of long-tail usage. Try to have unique products, that really stand for your brand and company. Creative production, owning the source of the material and building a library around it, that can used in multiple ways.


A resilient company is automatically a sustainable company. Look for ways to make your company more resilient. Build in as much as possible enough flexibility, openmindedness and tolerance your company. This ensure you stay resilient. Be prudent in your investments and spendings. Have always a fund for rainy days. Use all possible opportunities to constantly learn: as an organization and as an individual.


Keep thinks simple. It is an old accolade but a sustainable one. If you keep things simple they tend to be more stable and solid. They can be adapted easier to new environments and you can make it more transparent for everyone. Transparency and simplicity are two sides of the same coin when it comes to sustainability. This is true for products to develop but also – importantly – for any systems and processes you implement.

While we only scratch on the surface of these five drivers, it is also understood that all these drivers for sustainability root deeply (or not) in the values, that penetrate your business. Any sustainability strategy fails when it is not aligned with the company values and the philosophy of its stakeholders.

In the next few weeks we will explore the five drivers in more detail and also explain how values are the foundation of every sustainability strategy.

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