Kyra Kyles serves as VP & Head of Digital Editorial at Johnson Publishing Company. In this role, she is responsible for utilizing all JPC digital assets, including social-media channels, to deliver compelling content that attracts users and clients to the venerable brand. Ahead of her keynote presentation at the Digital Strategy Innovation Summit in New York, we spoke to Kyra about her thoughts on digital integration strategy, how media can best engage with communities and how she keeps up to date with digital trends in the ever-evolving space.
How do you define ‘digital strategy’?
I would say digital strategy is identifying what viewers are interested in consuming in the digital space and developing the tactics — video, audio, photo (whichever is the best fit for the subject)— to reach and impact them directly.
What unique challenges have you faced in this industry or in your career?
The challenges that we see in digital are similar to what is happening in the media industry overall. We are watching the erasure of some print outlets largely because of the Internet. We are having to leverage our smaller budgets while putting out content that people really want to consume and engage with. With digital there is so much that is grabbing everyone’s attention, you really have to stand out to get even a fraction of the audience. We are seeing a race against time and a battle to be relevant and engaging when there are so many options.
To what extent do you see the digital function integrating with other areas of a company and do you see this integration increasing?
I do believe companies are being forced to look at integration. Before there was a clear line between church and state, editorial and sales. Departments are seeing now that they need to align to be successful. You cannot isolate marketing and sales, you have to work with them. I am always looking for ways to work with all departments.
Which significant digital trends do you think are affecting the media industry?
I think we are seeing a stronger push into live broadcast — everybody is in the live game. It will be interesting to see how the different brands handle the challenge. And I think there is a move toward more in-depth reporting. We’re doing this at Ebony — multi-part series, in-depth reporting on topics that matter most to our readership. There’s already enough information out there. Now I think people are looking for trusted, credible media to present them with the facts so they can make decisions and even take action.
What are your thoughts about the opportunities for diverse populations in the digital space and how to increase those numbers?
This is one of my passions. Of course, I care about women being involved in the digital space, and people of color. I think it will take a commitment from organizations to reach out to work with schools and provide mentorship programs to minorities, and just to become more aware of emerging talent (it’s out there) and help to bring them into the space.
I think media should serve as a mirror to society. But now it looks mostly like the newsroom and the people who are covering it. We should have news coverage that is fair and representative of the rich diversity we have in our society. And the only way to do that is to have different ethnicities in your workforce.
African and Latino populations are some of the most loyal consumers. If you can demonstrate that you are being authentic, you will reach them and get increased revenue.
What do you read to keep up to date with digital trends?
I like Folio and Mashable. I’m a member of ONA, the Online News Association and also a Facebook group for publishers. I also use Flipboard to manage what I want to read. And also, let me not forget All Digitocracy. It’s a website covering tech and media founded by an African American woman. It’s essential reading.