I spent a couple of days in London for the first time in ages today and yesterday and this afternoon found myself at the Telegraph Media Group offices in Victoria. Where they make the Daily Telegraph and telegraph.co.uk.
Now, setting any political notions aside, I’ve been an admirer of the Telegraph brand mainly because my dad used to read it (for the sport section, you understand) when I was a kid. But as I grew up – and was studying politics – I did notice the quality of the journalism, the sharpness of the imagery and the overall editorial tone of voice.
All I knew about my meeting today was that I was going to see some people and talk about media buying. I thought that the Telegraph was still largely based in Canary Wharf. I was wrong.
What I found was an organisation that appears to be wholeheartedly accepting the challenge of digital and workplace transformation, on a scale I personally haven’t witnessed first hand before. If you look closely in the centre-left of the above image you can see a group of people huddled around a desk. This is the 4pm Editorial Meeting. There are 3 or 4 of them every day. The whole office space was designed with this as the central “hub” with the “spokes” consisting of the key teams within the organisation, to ensure there are clear lines of communication and sight of the key editorial decision making.
On the wall at the back, huge screens display analytics of what “readers” (they don’t call them users – that’s a topic for another post) are looking at on the telegraph.co.uk site right now. It uses an analytics tool called Chartbeat. When a story is popular, it moves up in position on the Telegraph’s homepage, so journos can often be found positively wishing their story to the top of the charts. They amusingly call it “data crack”. The data can also drive the prominence stories receive in the physical paper the next day.
The Telegraph have also invested in what they called “an Experience Room” where they keep versions of all the latest gadgets, er I mean devices. This is so that anyone in the organisation can come and have a play and see what customers are seeing when they view the Telegraph’s content on the latest iPhone 5, Kindle Fire, Nexus 7 or (gasp!) Microsoft Surface.
To the organisation’s credit, the Telegraph do have a trailblazing past, much of which was not so well known to me. They were the first UK newspaper with a proper online presence, they operate across all the usual mobile and tablet platforms and have recently become the first UK business to deliver a Microsoft Surface app.
The most significant thing that I found, though, is that they appear to have a pretty joined up team. Clearly the investment from the Barclay Brothers has helped to buy them a fancy office and plenty of nice new toys, but the business continues to be profitable (sadly, unlike some others I could mention) and on this showing is looking towards the future with a degree of excitement rather than trepidation and frustration.
It was one of the most interesting meetings I’ve had in a long while, and I have taken many lessons back to the lab to re-formulate a few ideas. WOW! Thanks to Pete @ Agenda21 for the invite.