More than 40 years on from the Pentagon Papers, all eyes are still on the Washington Post. As ever, Americaâ€™s foremost news-gathering organization canâ€™t escape the glare of attention it has so unflinchingly shone on others over the years.
But itâ€™s not what you think. Rather than being at the centre of a Supreme Court hearing or indeed anything remotely related to Oval Office tape recordings, the Post is on a growing number of peoplesâ€™ radars because, like all newspapers, itâ€™s currently transitioning into a digital future.
As more local advertisers have migrated to the web and Post bureaus in many American cities have closed down, the Post has had to slash staff and reorganize the newsroom. Like the London Times â€“ that now famously has a pay-wall protecting its website â€“ many businesses are watching the Post because they too are facing a do-or-die situation in the Internet age. If the pioneers of 20th Century print journalism can finally ditch the ink and be online pioneers also, then thereâ€™s hope for other businesses struggling to adapt.
So itâ€™s perhaps not too surprising to read â€“ in the New York Times, admittedly â€“ that the Postâ€™s newsroom is a changed beast altogether. With print and web journos working side-by-side, the newsroom is littered with flat-screen monitors giving real-time updates of the most popular stories on its news site, while deadlines are defined as much by online metrics as print capacity.
However, the most interesting detail to come out of the Postâ€™s current situation is its focus on key influencers.
Being widely read is great but for a paper like the Post thatâ€™s not enough â€“ they need to be read by the right people, too. This is why one of the key metrics for its blogs is whoâ€™s reading them, not just how many. Put simply, if a blog doesnâ€™t attract the numbers overall, but still registers a high percentage of hits from web locations ending in a .gov, .mil, .senate or .house address, then itâ€™s considered a success because it means itâ€™s being read by Washingtonâ€™s power elite.
A period of transition isnâ€™t easy on any business, least of all because of the unknown impacts change can have on the target market. But as the Post is demonstrating, if customer numbers no longer necessarily translate into sales (the Post has no pay-wall on its website), then identifying and measuring your impact with key influencers can be a real light house in the storm.
So what can you do to measure your success with key influencers?