Business models, Podcasts, Publishers, Strategy

The Telegraph’s Director of Product Cat Wildman on navigating tech trends and platforms

On this week’s episode, Cat Wildman, Director of Product at The Telegraph talks about the skills needed to be a successful product manager, how to decide which tech trends to get on board with, and how the news brand gets their communities involved in product development.

The team discuss a suspiciously familiar attempt to take on the Duopoly, Instagram’s confusing IGTV launch, whether Facebook’s ‘Subscription Groups’ will work for publishers and how Twitter made the tech world’s most unlikely comeback.

We’re reading:

In our own words: Esther Kezia Thorpe

As you would imagine, the role of product manager is one which has evolved beyond all recognition over the past few decades. Even recently, product has expanded from branded apps and websites to encompass social media and any presence on audio technology like Alexa.

One of the most interesting parts of this interview for me was the way Cat described their relationship with platforms. I find the way different publishers approach this fascinating, and The Telegraph’s attitude is refreshing. Cat understands that Snapchat, Facebook, Apple and many more are separate businesses in their own right, with their own goals and roadmaps. If those overlap with the goals of The Telegraph, and if there are ways they can work together, then great – she’s happy to get stuck in to developing that relationship. But if a platform wants to take themselves in a different direction, then that’s fine too. She doesn’t see that there’s any obligations for them to change their business models for her, and consequently she’s aware that she can’t be too reliant on them.

‘We have to be ready to roll with the punches, and keep in mind the fact that those third-party platforms aren’t working for us…we have to be brave enough and fearless enough to be able to say, “Let’s come off for now, keep an open mind, and we might see another time.”‘

As for the future at The Telegraph, the product team will be pretty busy with audio – a development Cat is very excited about. For them, this will be a whole new way of communicating; in the past it’s been all about the written word either in print or online, but many of the opportunities that Amazon and Google are opening up mean that they’ll be working out how to communicate that message outside of the page or screen, using just spoken words to convey the brand.

Of course, this is what radio has been doing for years, but do these publishers really want to become broadcasters? Not according to Cat, but how publishers will be able to carve out their own space in audio without seriously blurring those lines will be an interesting trend to watch as we see more maneuvering over the next year or so.

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