The Art of the Re-Launch

by Lewis DVorkin and Forbes, Inc.

This chapter is a free excerpt from The Forbes Model For Journalism In The Digital Age.

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We’ve accomplished quite a bit at Forbes: we launched a new digital publishing platform; we created new people profile pages for the Web; we released new Home pagechannel, and section pages. We redesigned a magazine.

My start-up experience as founder and CEO of True/Slant taught me a lot. At Forbes, I’m learning how to apply that knowledge to re-launching branded products that have already achieved scale. For what it’s worth, here are some principles I found to work for me.
  • Stay below the radar screen. In a Web world, self-promotion creates noise and distraction. Stick with humility.
  • Share the vision. Internally, spread the direction early and often. Be crystal clear about expectations and success metrics.
  • Be wary of bright, shiny objects and the latest “cool thing.” Keep a tight filter, letting through only those ideas that teach you something.
  • Live the life: The smartest digital people reside in distant corners. Seek them out, test your ideas, then adjust them. Buy into theirs.
  • Don’t send in the clones. I often say, “You’re either in or you’re out.” But you need bold people who tell you, “You’re wrong.” And listen.
  • Don’t sweat the Org chart. Set up people with spheres of influence. Break through politics. The structure will form.
  • Brave August humidity in Detroit. Go visit big customers. You will get push back. It’s frustrating, but makes you think harder.
  • Find your Brooklyn muse. Big Design/UI agencies are the Borg. Find the small shops that know how to balance dreams and dollars.
  • It all happens at the Scrum. In building products and functionality, the Product and Tech Dev teams must have at it daily. Start at 10:05 am.
  • Check your ego at the database. In Social Media, you must bow at the sheer complexity of crunching the information. I’d start at 5 am. Daily!
  • Build from Inside Out. Obsess at the core, work carefully outward. Don’t let ideation (hate that word) slow down iteration (love that word).
  • Wait out the journalists. Some good ones will sadly self-select out the door. So it goes. Early doubters who stay can – and will – surprise you.
  • Real-time data sets you free. At first, “real” journalists find it crass. Give it time, then watch as great stories evolve and productivity soars.
  • Listen for ringing bells. You’re on to something special when veterans stop to tell you, “I’m really proud to be working here.”
  • Go to the gym, watch College Game Day on ESPN. It clears the mind – and there’s lots to learn from the interviews with coaches and players.
Finally, as I like to say, “All will be well, just get shit done.”
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