Interview - Jennifer Kronstain


I/V: Jennifer Kronstain, CEO & Principal Consultant, Jennifer Kronstain.com: 8th August 2003


Greg Tingle interviews acclaimed American media figure, Jennifer Kronstain.

We "tracked down" Jennifer via Poynter Online, of which Media Man Australia also contributes to.

Jennifer writes for some of America's most respected media outlets, regularly speaks at media forums, and runs her own media company, after moving forward from AOL.

The world continues to get smaller, thanks to the Internet.

What's your background?

I graduated from Syracuse University (home of the 2003 NCAA Men's Basketball Champions!) with a degree in English and political science.

I started out as a newspaper reporter for two dailies - one in Binghamton, New York and the other in Greensboro, North Carolina. After newspapers, I worked as a web copy writer for organizations in the Philadelphia area and taught myself how to build web pages. I then was lucky enough to land a job at AOL Time Warner, working on the development team for its interactive television product, AOLTV. I started working for myself in 2001.

What are your aims and objectives?

I think the hope of every entrepreneur is to be lucky enough to work for people who share your vision and look to make that vision a reality - and I'm lucky that I have clients who do share my philosophies, or I'm sure we wouldn't be working together.

My goal, as a media consultant, is to help my clients a) work more efficiently, b) communicate more effectively with their constituency, delivering more of what matters to them and c) somehow, within all of that, make the world a better place to be. If those things happen, then I've done my job.

What key services do you offer?

I provide two types of services.

1. I provide editorial and content development services. I'll help organizations implement their editorial strategies by writing for newsletters, web sites, email newsletters, etc. (Fairly simple.)

2. More complex is the consulting services I provide. Using consumer survey data, I and a team of hand-picked consultants put media organizations in closer touch with their constituencies and at the same time improve how their businesses function. We specialize in all types of media - television, radio, online, newspaper and magazine - and we also provide services relating to media law.

What do you do on a day to day basis?

I do a lot of business development and planning. I would say that on the whole 25 percent of my time is spent promoting the business (through speaking engagements, writing opportunities, interviews, meetings, non-profit opportunities, etc.), 25 percent is spent administrating and strategic planning and 50 percent is spent doing work for my clients. (I actually figured this out at one point!)

How has the Internet been good and bad for your business?

Without the Internet, I have one client as opposed to five. I could not do business the way I do business without it.

The only downside is keeping up with the necessary equipment to be better and faster. ;) Not cheap!!!

What do you consider to be the highlights of your career?

The first would be working for one of my current clients, BIGresearch (http://www.bigresearch.com), a research company based in Ohio. (This is not a promotion for them, though it sounds like one.) I found them in an article and sent their CEO a note asking if they needed some help, and it turned out they did.

BIG performs the Simultaneous Media Usage (SIMM) Study twice each year, measuring how consumers take in their media and putting that knowledge in the context of their buying decisions. What BIG has done is create a direct and clean link between content and fulfillment the likes of which have never before been made - research that truly analyzes at a micro level consumer behavior, which carries a direct impact on how our industry functions, particularly in the post-dot-com era, and how we all will do our jobs in the next five to 10 years. As the industry becomes more and more fragmented, the research that BIG is doing will provide the edge that media companies will need in order to stay ahead of their competition in every way - content, advertising, media planning, production, etc.

The second would be would be working at AOL - big time. They're going through some changes right now, I know, and many are disillusioned. I was part of a layoff, myself. But the company really does value people who value working there, and as an employee I very much appreciated that. I grew tremendously while I was there, and that's what I remember most.

The third would be covering minor league baseball in Greensboro, North Carolina. That was just fun. :)

What media coverage have you received to date?

Here's the most recent ones:
http://www.jenniferkronstain.com/press_media.htm

I've been:
* quoted in Editor & Publisher
* quoted in the Philadelphia Daily News
* a panelist at a blogging seminar in DC
* a panelist at a forum sponsored by New Directions for News
(http://www.ndn.org) in Texas
* a columnist at TVSpy.com
* profile writer for the New York New Media's Technology Winners' Circle

Here is a full list of everything I'm doing that's community-related:
http://www.jenniferkronstain.com/press_community.htm

What media platform do you:

a. most enjoy working with?

I'm a writer at heart, but I think writers are often the best online strategists because when you write a story you have a beginning, middle and end that makes sense. The same is true for a good piece of
interactive content - it has to take you somewhere.

b. find most effective for your clients?

It truly depends on the client's need.

How much impact are online bloggers having on the "traditional" news business in America?

There is a consistent debate about whether blogging in and of itself is actually a form of journalism.

I really believe it's the start of what will become a truly interactive form of journalism - in other words, journalists will get help from the public in collecting information in a way that is more formalized than you see now. Now, it's primarily anecdotal. I think you'll see formalized news gathering networks of
people feeding news outlets with information, and requesting information for journalists to pursue.

In terms of its impact on the regular business of news here, I don't think it has changed the traditional approaches that exist - yet, but it will happen. It took a while before internet-type thinking changed how
the news business approached things. Now with more and more outlets thinking graphically and incorporating interactive into their strategies, there is a measurable impact and change in public expectation.

Are American newspaper outlets making the change to online newspapers quick enough, in order to "lock in" their customers?

I don't think we'll ever see news outlets go all print or all interactive ... intelligent outlets will identify opportunities in both areas (perhaps even in video or broadcast, as well) and satisfy them all, depending on the constituency, size of audience, etc.

What is a good example of a newspaper making the smooth, intelligent, transition to offering an online alternative? (eg The Washington Post)

The Wash Post is a fantastic example - I look at that site regularly. I think the Wall Street Journal is great, and the London Times, as well. I love the Christian Science Monitor online, too.

What are some of your interesting, current projects?

Outside of work, PhillyBlog (http://www.phillyblog.com) is a pet project of mine. PhillyBlog is a discussion board that celebrates Philadelphia and all that goes on here. When I came back to town last year, I realized that the city didn't have an active online forum where anyone could have real, honest discussion about the good things and the bad things happening here - so six of us got together and started it. Now, we're down to three running it, but we seem to have reached, as one person put it, a tipping point of sorts ... our membership has doubled in two months, we have a partnership with our local tourism organization (the ones who do the "Philly's more fun when you sleep over" ads) and we just agreed to work with the United Way of Southeastern PA as part of their project Teaming for Technology. The program provides access to the internet for financially challenged neighborhoods here and encourages those who live there to learn and use the Internet in the hope that they'll develop skills that will improve their lives. We'll be providing individual blogs for these people to help them get involved in the community and, hopefully, build the confidence they need to have an impact on the city around them. I'm very psyched about this ...

What new, emerging technologies should the media and technology savvy person be looking at?

Wi-Fi, obviously. I'm not well-versed on it yet, myself, but I think that's the next big thing. I'd also keep an eye on VOD and what Comcast (which happens to be based in our town here in Philly) is doing. Once you have VOD, you don't go back!

What news services do you trust?

In terms of newspapers, I trust the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Business Journal for local news here in town. On TV, I trust CNN and FOX more than anyone (strange combo, I know, but true). I'm not a fan of the nightly news broadcasts on our networks here, largely because I get the TV news each day from CNN. I get depth by reading Time and the New Yorker. I don't care for online magazines anymore. I spend so much time at my computer that I appreciate time away from it - though I've opted in for tons of online newsletters with lists of headlines - I scan them and if I see something interesting, I read it. Mostly these pertain to market niches that my business is either involved in or is targeting.

What motivates you?

I am motivated at any opportunity to improve something - myself, my work, my clients.

I am motivated by leadership opportunities. I am motivated by working with people who are of a similar mindset, and equally interested in great relationships that produce good work. Most of all, though, I am motivated by spending time with my family and friends.

Describe freedom of the press?

I think that's a question for a Constitutional law professor. ;)

In terms of what falls under the heading "freedom of the press" I'd argue that it should be the pursuit of information that is in the public or community interest - whether it's because it'll cost the public money
to handle a situation (court case) or something relevant to the people we vote into office, like how the House and Senate voted on a bill, or just human interest that pertains to the community's everyday life and culture.

I think there are those journalists who push things too far at times under the guise of working for the public good, and that is unfortunate, but that will happen in a free society.

What are your favorite networks?

My favorite networks are HBO, A&E, AMC and IFC. :)

How have you made a positive difference to the business?

By contributing time to develop projects that will benefit underserved people and move the industry forward. (See my Community Involvement page, from above.)

Do you also get nervous before public speaking engagements? : ) just a fun question.

Yes! Always. I over-prepare, but it never helps. Ask anyone who saw me talk in Syracuse last spring ... oh dear! :0 .. just keep practicing!

What other important information should our readers know about you and your offerings, should they be
interested in getting a hand with some of their requirements?

I'm affordable. Lots of consulting firms charge a lot of money - I don't have any overhead, and I know very well from my own experiences what these organizations are facing, so I work within their budgets the best I can.

Besides, I just love what I do, so clients should know I'll always get what's best for them.

If anyone wants more info, they should just email me directly at jennifer@jenniferkronstain.com

Jennifer Kronstain
CEO & Principal Consultant
JENNIFERKRONSTAIN.COM

...end.

Editors note: An true innovator in the media business. An inspiring, interesting and educational interview. Interviews like this one help keep Media Man Australia an excellent source of information for anyone in the media business. Keep up to date with Jennifer's activities at the following websites:

Links:

JENNIFERKRONSTAIN.COM

Big Research official website

The Daily Orange: Alumni Association

Ryze Business Networking: Jennifer Kronstain

New York New Media Association

DCDotComm: Jennifer Kronstain

Fast Company.com

Yahoo! Finance: Media Planners Should Take A Long Look At Radio - 24th July 2003