Starting a Media Business

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Developing a Business Plan

The business plan for a media company must address targeted media, markets and subsidiary ventures over a 5- to 10-year period. Media business plans must focus the attention of employees, investors and partners on specific media whether it is a television network or a combination of online, print and visual media. The ideal plan will focus on the different aspects of the media business where a company will enter the market, including production, distribution and creative consulting. Media companies should also lay out expansion plans away from their home markets into adjacent markets. For example, the New York Times Company has expanded from its New York City-based newspaper into new markets like Boston, Southern California and online reporting to increase revenues. A business plan should offer a time line for website development, monetizing online content and social networking efforts to make traditional media accessible to Internet users.

Assessing Your Target Media Markets

Newspaper publishers, station owners and other media entrepreneurs have several avenues to assess their prospective consumers. Organizations like Streaming Media and Integrated Media Association offer regular events for media businesses working outside of broadcast television and commercial radio. These events allow fledgling media businesses to network with their competition, determine entry points into local markets and advertise their efforts to the public. Once a media business has created shows, advertisements and online content, the next step is researching the needs and wants of consumers. Nielsen Media Research is the gold standard of media research firms, giving networks and production companies access to television viewership numbers from millions of Americans. Readership metrics can be collected using subscription figures, follow-up surveys and focus groups in the early days of operation.

Financing Media Business Start-ups

The four financing tools used by many media businesses are commercial loans, initial public offerings (IPOs), venture capital and advertising. Independent television stations, newspapers and magazine publishers use commercial loans to finance equipment and building fees. Media businesses with multiple holdings including online content, radio stations and print publications may be able to earn some money by offering stock to the public. While IPOs can be uncertain financing methods, investors may also double as subscribers and viewers to keep track of their investments. As a media business grows, venture capital funds may be helpful in expanding papers and television stations into new networks. Venture capitalists specializing in media, like Union Square Ventures in New York, can help media businesses fund computers, transmitters and other equipment to take companies to the next level. The final cornerstone of media business financing is advertising, which has been the lifeblood of television since the 1950s and radio since the 1920s. In terms of new media, business owners can convert clicks into sales by using pay-per-click (PPC) advertisers like BidVertiser. PPC advertisers allow owners to select keywords used in search engines and craft banner ads that link to their media websites.

Creating Content to Attract New Viewers

Every media company has to hire the best talent in its particular market to create content for consumers. Production studios hire writers, directors and actors to create television shows and movies that are seen by millions of viewers. Newspapers, television stations and magazines rely on a small full-time staff and freelance talent to create content that is original and eye-catching. Media businesses need to be careful about soliciting movie, television and story ideas from creative talent. For example, television production studios require scripts and treatments to be transmitted through agents to head off lawsuits from writers who misunderstand future correspondence. Once talented writers and producers are in place, media companies can create around-the-clock content that appeals to their target markets. Advancements in social networking and online video tools allow media companies to create inexpensive content for the Internet to support their primary content.