I’m in London, here for the SIIA conference titled Digital Content and Media Summit.
Who is SIIA?
To understand that, it’s best to start at the beginning, back before the Internet changed everything.
First there was the Newsletter Association, or NA. This was a group of publishers who sold information and advice that typically arrived in a #10 envelope. All marketing was done by mail, as well. In those days, everything was paper, and I like to say our main expenses were the four Ps. Paper, printing, postage and people.
As the leaders of the group strove to serve a larger audience, it became the International Newsletter Association, or INA
Then the Internet got big, and the group became the Newsletter and Electronic Publishers Association, or NEPA.
And then, because more and more new companies were not publishing newsletters at all but delivering straight through the Internet, it became the Specialized Information Publishers Association, or SIPA.
Then just last year, because the association didn’t have the financial strength to continue on its own, it became a division of SIIA, the Software and Information Industry Association.
In short, Software has taken precedence over content.
But here in London, it’s the content division putting on the conference, so content (and media, whatever that means) are the focus. My goal is to learn what changes I need to make to keep Cabot healthy and growing, because if you don’t change, the world moves on without you.
At Cabot, the things that stay the same are the audience and their needs. Our readers are English-speaking people from all walks of life who want advice on investing. Some are beginners, some are experts, but they all want our guidance so they can do better.
A small percentage of these people still get their advice from us on folded up printed newsletters in #10 envelopes, but the vast majority get their advice by email. Also, the vast majority of marketing is done by email and through our website, and keeping that up to date and productive is a constant challenge. It’s no secret that many publishers, newspapers and magazines most visibly, are struggling with these changes.
So the conference should help. But before it starts, my wife and I have some time for fun.
Sunday, one highlight was the National Gallery, which has a world-class collection of paintings, ranging from exquisite 14th century Italian works, almost exclusively religious in nature, to English greats like Constable and Turner to French impressionists like Manet, Renoir and Cezanne. The museum was busy, as it was Sunday and admission is always free. But it was still wonderful
The other highlight came only because I was reading the morning newspaper and saw that the final stage of the Tour of Britain bike race would be held that day in London. When I was younger, I was an avid cyclist, and for years (both before and after the Lance Armstrong years) my wife and I have enjoyed following the Tour de France. The big attraction in Sunday’s race was Mark Cavendish (the Manx Missile), who won the Tour de France in 2011 and who had already won two stages of this year’s Tour of Britain.
The race was eight laps of a downtown circuit along the Thames River, so we found a spot on a street corner and watched as the riders zoomed by, roughly 11 minutes per lap, spotting Cavendish several times as he whizzed by, protected by his teammates. And when it was over, we walked five minutes back to our hotel room and watched the TV coverage! Cavendish won the stage with his trademark sprint but Sir Bradley Wiggins, who won the Tour de France in 2012, was the winner of the series.
Lots of champagne was sprayed, as the British are very happy to be ascendant in the sport of cycling. And we watched a good part of a documentary on the life of Mark Cavendish and watched the season premiere of Downton Abbey before heading out to dinner.