In this episode from the Media Voices gang, 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 Telegraph gets their communities involved in product development.
Esther Kezia Thorpe, a Co-Founder of Media Voices, writes, ‘One of the most interesting parts of this interview was the way Cat described (The Telegraph’s) relationship with platforms…..(its) 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.’
As Cat Wildman says, “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’.”
Here are some other important ‘at a glance’ takeaways:
- The Telegraph ensure that their overall business vision is promoted and embodied throughout the organisation. The day-to-day is the big picture and both dovetail together.
- It’s about strategy, strategy, and…strategy. The Telegraph has a strong business strategy and an equally strong product strategy. If a new development fits into the strategy they will pursue it ‘fearlessly’, but the emphasis here is that it must fit into the overall strategy.
- The Telegraph is not afraid to be an early adopter. It was a launch partner on Google Assistant in the UK, as just one example.
- The news brand continually assesses and evaluates the value of its various initiatives and outreach.
- Audience feedback is ‘essential’ and ‘the most important thing to us’. Hearing from people in person is vital, and they have a contact centre dedicated to speaking to their customers.
- Third party platforms are, of course, important – The Telegraph will travel to the various Silicon Valley HQs in person to try and understand the various platforms’ roadmaps at a deep level. But it’s a business relationship and if the platforms aren’t working for The Telegraph, they will come off them either temporarily or permanently.
- As for the future, the product team is busy with audio – a development Cat is excited about. In the past it’s been all about the written word, but many of the opportunities opening up mean that The Telegraph is working out how to communicate using just spoken words to convey the brand.
- Does a publisher like the Telegraph really want to become a broadcaster? 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.
Our thanks, as always, to the Media Voices Gang: Peter Houston, Chris Sutcliffe and Esther Kezia Thorpe