‘Post Its, Platforms, Consumer Data, and Above All Else – Great Story Telling’

Catherine Badalamente, VP, Digital Media, Graham Media Group
May 23, 2017

Innovation Mission Day 3: SocialCode and McClatchy Video Lab

The IM’ers were off, luggage in hand (some with slightly bigger suitcases than others), beginning our last day in D.C., with SocialCode.

What a treat! SocialCode’s very own CEO Laura O’Shaughnessy welcomed us to their D.C., office on 15th St. with open arms and the cool story of the birth of SocialCode.

Back in 2010, long before anyone could have predicted the extent of Facebook’s worldwide dominance, Laura knew brands and marketers would need someone to guide them through the complex world of social marketing. SocialCode’s early mission was to build fan bases for brands like American Express. Today, they have created a complex system of online and offline consumer data, attribution, and results.

The team at SocialCode works with some of the biggest advertisers in the world to mine the right audiences, optimize, and deliver stunning results. The SocialCode Vision is to “transform organizations into responsive, data-driven institutions that provide more value and connect more deeply with customers.” We learned about some of the exciting and stunning results SocialCode has delivered and continues to deliver for their clients.

Laura also shared her advice with the local media executives in attendance – how they could better target their current and potential audiences with social. She offered to help the group dive deep into their user data—saying her data scientists would welcome the challenge.

After a quick tour of the SocialCode work space—including ‘Props’ boards with notes pinned from the SocialCode team, giving each other credit and respect for something well done–we got to see and hear about the Post-it hangman game that the SocialCode team plays with the nameless and faceless high rise office dwellers in the building next door. We loved seeing and feeling the SocialCode culture thriving.

Then we were off – luggage in hand – to the offices of The McClatchy D.C., Bureau and McClatchy Video Lab.

It was a mere 2-3 years ago that the 30 McClatchy daily newspapers were publishing very little video that resulted in very little revenue to their local properties.

Fast-forward to today and McClatchy’s relentless focus on all things video. VP Video and New Ventures Andy Pergam, took us through their impressive video strategy and structure.  Their Mission: Support local efforts + Reach new audiences.

Their Goals:  Revenue growth + leapfrogging over the status quo.

Hearing and seeing the best-in-class product that the McClatchy team is producing at, with and for their properties will make any media company exec envious. They are focused, no matter the division, product, platform or delivery system on what I (and they) believe is key and core to everything – ‘Great Storytelling.’

Meghan Sims, Director of Strategic Video Initiatives, shared the latest update on the McClatchy Video Lab West – an extension of The Video Lab in D.C. The Labs have been built purposely separate from the McClatchy markets and their initiatives in order to break away from the 24-hour news cycle.

McClatchy Video Lab West is being built as a modular and incomplete space in the ‘old train station’ in Sacramento, Calif. Because the team knows things will be constantly evolving – they are building the space to evolve with them. Video Lab West is partnering with Google, YouTube and the City of Sacramento to use the space for training, events, film screening, experimenting, testing, and incubating.

Andy and Meghan said Video Lab West will need to be nimble and fickle, to experiment in a much bigger way but to know when to quit. They will focus on non-fiction immersive content creation and distribution using Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and Mixed Reality. They will also foster an accelerator program for both their properties and beyond. Video Lab West is targeted to open in the fall of 2017.

We also heard about the Creative Lab @ McClatchy. This off-shoot of the Video Lab produces compelling branded content videos for advertisers

I loved their model: “Our business is not transactional and we are not a solution for every client. We are relationship architects designed to build long-term emotional connections with our partners and communities.”

Once again, the theme turned back to great storytelling. This time, the stories were for and about advertisers.

We heard and saw some of the really terrific and compelling stories McClatchy has created for local and regional advertisers. The work the McClatchy team is producing for these advertisers is top-rate – in fact, they are happy to white-label their service for any local media company.

It was another educational and inspirational visit with teams of people focused on creating value and results for audiences and advertisers. For the broadcasters in the room, including me, it was both inspiring and upsetting that a newspaper media company was leap-frogging us on video innovations. Kudos to McClatchy for leading the way for all local media.