I’m currently sat on a train on the way back from Birmingham. What should have been a 90 minute journey is coming in at just under three hours thanks to the gales currently battering Britain.
My train appears to be the last one running into Manchester tonight, with none coming out the other way, at least according to the very apologetic train manager on board our train.
There are lots of frustrated Manchester City fans on the train, having got on at Stoke and Macclesfield only to sit and wait, worrying they’ll miss the game.
Miss it, that is, until the rumour swept around the train that City’s game against Sunderland was being called off.
If ever there was to be visual confirmation of just how the our information world has changed, it was watching people dash for their phones to see if it’s true.
The majority first source appears to have been Twitter, followed shortly by a shout of: “It’s off – Vincent Kompany’s just confirmed it.”
And indeed he had. Although, just for the record, my colleagues at the Manchester Evening News beat him to it:
First, fast and accurate. And rewarded with over 500 retweets. Exactly how you should do it. Because the competition is all around us.
Proof though, and if still needed, of the competition news brands face in the digital era. To the people in my carriage on my train, news that City’s game with Sunderland came from Vincent Kompany. Formal confirmation from the police a few minutes later was just that – merely confirmation.
It’s a saying that anyone can be a publisher now. The truth is that the only difference between ‘professional publishers’ – be that a 100-year-old newspaper growing rapidly online, or the BBC or a site like Buzzfeed – and anyone else is that the ‘professional’ publishers are here all day, every day.
The challenge for professional publishers is to use our ever-presence to engage with users around the clock, in the quiet times, so they’re connected with us when the big stories happen too.
For many brands, that’s already happening. Only half-jokingly, I tweeted earlier that ‘weather is the new football’ when it comes to driving traffic to the websites I work with. I think the growth of mobile has made that true – along with a commitment to minute-by-minute updates when a big story happens.
Vincent Kompany won’t be tweeting news of the ups and downs at City, day in day out, as the BBC or the Manchester Evening News does. But when he does choose to Tweet, his opinion and thoughts clearly hold sway.
The millionaire footballer breaking news alongside us? Why not. For professional media brands, the challenge is to make sure readers have a reason to be following us too.
Mobile + social = An exciting future. First, fast, accurate – words journalists have always sought to live up to. These days, they are words of ambition, but minimum requirements. If we don’t break the news, someone else will. And even when we do break it
PS – here’s Edin Dzeko’s picture of the pitch at City, posted on Instgram: