Thursday, September 20, 2007

Redefining Competition

I know I haven't posted in a very long time. There are some good reasons for this, but I'm not going to go into them now. I have been continuing my work over at and also doing more new media work at Schwartz, but as for writing about media, I've held off.

But recently I had a situation that I thought others could learn from and it falls under the heading of "competition."

During a recent launch my team and I reached out to both Scott Kirsner of the Boston Globe as well as to Wade Roush at the relatively new site (if you aren't reading Xconomy, you should be). Our feeling was that while both have similar missions, Xconomy has a much smaller audience and wouldn't be much of a competitor to the Globe. In fact, I felt the site was probably still flying under the radar of the Globe, as it measured its tenure in weeks rather than decades. Probably something the editors were reading and watching, but not something they'd consider a direct competitor.

I was wrong.

Kirsner informed us that yes, Xconomy was competition for him and because the client appeared first there, in a long and detailed profile, he wouldn't do something similar in the Globe. He did interview the client and quoted the CEO in a different piece, but wasn't going to do more than that.

On the one hand, this showed the fledgling Xconomy a lot of respect, since Kirsner went so far as to praise the reporters and the work. But it also taught me something else about competition: it's not about the readers, it's about the mission.

Even more, it's about the mission of particular reporters and columnists. So it's not about whether the Globe thinks Xconomy is a competitor, it's about whether Kirsner believes it. Since he has his own blog and video segments in addition to his Sunday Globe column, this makes sense.

It just hadn't occurred to me before.

But just because they're competitive doesn't mean they don't acknowledge the other's work. Krisner has linked to Xconomy stories on his own blog to give a background, so it really comes down to "coopitition" and how the stories move forward.

No comments: