While I am no Jim Collins, there seems to be a pattern among the
digital-media brands that have gone from just good to great. Some
seamlessly swing from one digital era to the next like Tarzan.
These perennial champions all:
1. Embraced a major paradigm shift early in
2. Leaned into the -- often by abandoning
conventional wisdom and, sometimes, under a lot of scrutiny;
3. Continually reinvented themselves in the
face of disruption, all the while remaining true to their core
Here are just two examples. Each has proved able to adapt as the
predominant news discovery paradigms shifted from bookmarks and
portals to search and now social.
Yahoo News is a marquee example. It came of age in the late
1990s, a go-go era when portals such as Yahoo.com ruled the roost.
Today, although Yahoo itself is less potent, its news property has
remained one of the most-visited sites in its category.
One reason is adaptability. Yahoo News, for example, was one of
the earliest adopters of Facebook's open-graph platform. This
partnership with the social juggernaut has helped the property
embrace reach a younger audience through social discovery, all
while remaining true to the core -- curated, high-quality
The same ethos rings true at the Huffington Post. It came of age
in 2005, before Twitter and just as millions started switching
their home pages over to Google. And it succeeded, in part, by
honing a well-oiled, search-engine optimized editorial machine.
Later in its lifecycle, as Facebook and Twitter began to take
off, HuffPo -- while still remaining true to its roots -- leaned
hard into social media and today, arguably, is one of the best at
using it to grow an audience eager to spread their content far and
Bookmarks (a vestige of the portal era), search and social today
all remain the predominant ways we discover content.
However, disruption looks large now that 50% of Americans are
armed with smartphones. Already new players such as Flipboard,
Pulse and Zite are asserting themselves in between media brands and
their end consumer -- creating both opportunities and
It remains to be seen how Yahoo News and HuffPo will adapt as
mobile consumption upsets the digital apple cart once
I believe they will channel their inner Olympian, just like Kobe
Bryant, a Team USA basketball gold medalist, was a ubiquitous
presence at the London games. He was seemingly a spectator at every
major sport. He wasn't just being patriotic, though; he was in
Former Lakers coach "Phil Jackson once told me that he always
looked for players who played a myriad of sports because they learn
a multitude of skills that are necessary to understand the game of
basketball at a higher level," Bryant wrote on his Facebook page.
"So, I encourage everyone to not be narrow-minded but to instead
look at other sports thru the lens of your own and you will learn
from others how to better yourself."
For us, the spirit of these games must continue. Your front-row
seat to disruption awaits.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Steve Rubel is exec
VP-global strategy and insights for Edelman.