The Dallas Morning News Moves Into The Digital Age

For more than 68 years the Dallas Morning News has called 508 Young Street its home. Now they make the move to the Old Dallas Central Library at the opposite end of downtown Dallas. They leave behind the 325,000 square feet space near Union Station to reorganize in the refurbished and modernized 90,000 square feet space connected to the newly refurbished Statler Hotel. A new history and legend starts here.

Many of the employees have worked there for more than 30 years and have collected notes in journals and on paper for all that time. Now as they move into the new age with a cutting edge modern facility they look back on what used to be, and look forward to integrating tech as an enabler into their every day work lives.

When Nicki Purcell took on the job of Chief Digital Officer at The Dallas Morning News, she brought a very strong technical and marketing background with her. Her task, turn this traditional print news business into a modern digital business. Make them relevant and make sure they stay that way.

It wasn't just the task of making a newspaper business relevant to a new customer that only consumes news on their digital devices, it was also about changing and adapting the culture of a business that has been around for 133 years. 

 The New Home of The Dallas Morning News

The New Home of The Dallas Morning News

It was time for the Dallas Morning News to move away from Branded House model to a House of Brands model. Start by doing the obvious things like, reducing the focus on Morning and paper only. Break out the new brands to stand on their own with their own strong digital presence.

First things first, you must stop and define what digital means to the business. They stood at a new intersection they weren't familiar with, they were at the intersection of culture and technology. How could they take technology and make it an enabler for their team members, in the office and in the field. How could they use "digital" to reduce the friction of posting stories and connecting with their readers? 

One of the major digital moves for the media company was to act like a media company. And that started with a rebranding move to drop 'morning' and now call the website the Dallas News. After 130 years, they dropped the 'morning' from the title of the premiere news site in Dallas. They re-launched on a fully rebuilt and redesigned site that would show everyone that they had arrived in the digital age. This was not an easy task. Lots of planning and months of hard work from everyone went into the new site. The old site would crash when traffic would spike from a big news story. It was crucial that the new site could handle the traffic in times when it was most needed.

The launch was planned for July 7th, 2016. The team worked long hours to make the date. The old site struggled more and more every day. The new site was desperately needed. But nothing comes easy, no matter how well you plan it. On the evening that they were planning to launch the new site, Dallas experienced the worst mass shooting in Dallas history. Decisions had to be made. And they had to be made while a 4 and a half hour gunfight was happenning outside their doors.

Check out episode 115 as we talk to Nicki Purcell about the launch of the new website, and the course they took to modernize a traditional legacy 133 year old business.

THANKS

Special thanks to Kenton Kisler and Executive Connection for getting me connected to Mirza. You should definitely check out what Kenton is doing with that program, amazing and informative events. 

Thank you to Nicki Purcell for her taking some time during the busy transition to the new building to sit down and record this episode.

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