The Seattle Times, founded in 1896, is one of the longest serving independent newspapers in the country. Yet like most print media companies, today the publication must confront the realities of an increasingly digital landscape.

As a former reporter myself, I was thrilled to recently have the opportunity to sit down (and totally geek out with) Carey Butler, The Seattle Times CTO. We talked about how the paper is growing readership despite the shift away from print media. Regardless of your company's industry or size, I think you'll gain a lot of great insights.

Of course, if you're a media company, this is a must-read interview on how to transform your business to meet the digital needs of consumers.

Marta: How are you using Marketing Cloud to transform your business?

Carey: For B2C as a newspaper, as a media company, we have both print and digital subscribers.

Our driving use case for our business is converting casual readers of both the print paper and our digital properties. We have your classic media website, Android app, iOS app, Facebook readers, Twitter readers, Apple News readers, Google News readers--lots of different channels. Capturing that audience from an occasional readership into a loyal subscriber is difficult.

Marta: When you say loyal subscriber, you're not meaning print necessarily, but also the digital property itself.

Carey: I mean print as well.

We'll be using Marketing Cloud for our print subscribers as well as our digital subscribers. One of the primary use case journeys we need to execute on is movement of print readership to digital, and Marketing Cloud can help us do that.

Marta: How has the digital world transformed the way you do business?

Carey: That's such a huge question.

The digital world has transformed everything about media. The primary shift is that it has introduced so many competitors. If you think about it, when you get up in the morning, what do you look at? People look at their phone. What are they reading? They're reading content from across the globe. There's so much competition today for people's time and attention of where they consume news.

Now, there is the print loyal subscriber who starts their day with a newspaper. But trends indicate that's shrinking, obviously. It's declining.

Marta: Demographic issues?

Carey: It's demographic. It is lifestyle shifts. I think as people commute more and for longer distances, they leave earlier in the day. You don't have that 45 minutes at home to read the paper before you go to work. You leave as soon as you get up and you read on your mobile device if you're a true commuter or you listen to the radio if you drive your car. It's a different source of content coming into all of us than what was available 10, 15 years ago, 5 years ago.

Marta: With this decentralization of content, which is really what we're talking about, how do you maintain a strong brand in the marketplace and how do you attract subscribers to be a member of the Seattle Times?

Carey: Well, from a brand standpoint, we're 120 years old. We have a very deep brand with individuals that have lived in the Northwest for some portion of their adult life and some of us for our entire lives. So there is brand loyalty around the Northwest native population. Brand amongst people that have come into the community is harder to obtain, as you know as a marketer.

We have a very, very strong connection to the community through what we call mission-based work. We are so involved in education, traffic, housing issues, homelessness issues within our community that I think it is . . . it's done genuinely through our commitment to the community and the after effect of that is that there is brand loyalty that is generated in individuals who care about the community as well.

I think a whole millennial segment is over-summarized with just a few sound bites that tends to not be really true. But many believe that the millennial generation, particularly those that have moved into our region, aren't concerned about those kinds of mission-based activities. At The Seattle Times, we actually don't see that and we don't believe that. We segment our audience into seven segments and then in addition . . . that's more on readership behavior patterns, but then we also take a very strong look at the generational bands.

We believe there are many opportunities in every generational band to find loyal readers. We work hard to reinforce what our brand is and how that translates to different segments. So, we don't tend to just cater to an audience that aligns with a certain viewpoint. We bring in people from multiple viewpoints to work on social issues within the community. Like I said, that ranges from homelessness to traffic, to housing, to education. We do an outstanding job as an independent newspaper to uphold the traditional conventions of what journalism is all about. And that definitely builds and holds brand for The Seattle Times.

We then reach out through those connections and work to commercialize that loyalty to our brand through advertising, native advertising, subscriptions, event fees and so forth.

But, it's important to note that it does start with brand.

The siloed nature of media, however, hasn't done any favors in terms of really going to market in an integrated way that speaks to all the needs of the newspapers and all the needs of our readership. We put our readership at the center of a set of concentric rings. And everything we do as a paper, and as a media company, should reflect the needs of the readership.

Marta: So that's really a customer-centric philosophy.

Carey: Very customer-centric philosophy….

Believe it or not, the truth is if you peel back what's going on in most media companies, we are all very much still print-centric, digital after-the-fact. Those of us that are measuring and watching this are actively moving the workflow around so that it digital first--it's a real-time publishing of content and the print paper becomes an end of day curation of the stories that have been built digitally.

Marta: That's great. And that's such a shift in the media landscape.

Carey: It's a total shift. And it is a culture shift. I think it's probably more cultural than anything because this impacts not just the newsroom schedule. It impacts the schedule of the entire paper. It used to be that the news gathering operation worked long hours. Copy editors, designers, and production would produce the print product and "complete" the news cycle with the printing of the newspaper. Our news operation is 24/7 now and our business is moving to support that as well. And the rest of us go home at 5:00 or 6:00.

That's not the way it is anymore because when you have integrated teams, you need your social team, your PR team, your marketing team, your IT team, your advertising team and your news team all working together to manage that digital environment.

I can't say that we are there yet, but our strategy for the next few years is completely aligned around creating these cross-functional teams, partially co-located but certainly emotionally and intellectually co-located, if you will, so that we're thinking about the news cycle 24-hours-a-day and we think about, not only what the newsletter is doing, what the paper is doing, what the iOS app is doing and all the other elements, but how they all work together.

It's hard. And this is where you hear about media companies having shifts in their workforce that aren't as pretty as we would like them to be because the technical skills across the board in media today . . . take marketing, take conventional marketing. How do you take a conventional marketing team and move them to a team that can use Marketing Cloud? It's not only the technical skills required in setting up automation and journeys. It's the thinking behind the strategy of what you do in a customer journey today.

Marta: Right. So you can empower them with the tools, Marketing Cloud tools and many others, but what is really required is sort of a broad landscape of digital first thinking that is maybe not native to people?

Carey: I don't think that it is. I have managed other marketing teams prior to The Seattle Times. There are individuals that I've experienced in marketing teams that are very strategically focused and can adapt to using these new tools in an accelerated fashion for building the customer behavior that you're looking for and others that do not. It comes, I think, a little bit analogous to the Agile activities around product development that you innovate, you test, you experiment, you fail fast and you move on.

And all of that requires measurement of your activities. I think the measurement element for market is one of the key carrots and sticks today in marketing that you can, in media, develop a new newsletter that pushes out content every morning to your readers. And when you measure, you know exactly what the behavior is behind the activities around that newsletter and you can pull triggers to increase behaviors or decrease behaviors. That measurement, I think, is one of key drivers of what is pulling marketing mainstream.

Marketing, I've been in management enough years to know that when businesses have cost containment they need to do, marketing is often one of the first things they cut because it's believed to be the thing you do when you're highly profitable. That's kind of a legacy belief system around marketing. It's shifting today that it is the last thing you cut because it's what's bringing people into your sales funnel today.

If I could advise any marketer out there today it's to get behind your metrics and build your proposals and strategies to the business around the facts and data of what you're seeing and then apply those skills of creativity and art and marketing theory to the facts and data of what's happening in your customer's journey through your company. And you add service cloud to it and start measuring the experience that people have from a customer satisfaction level as well. You have the data that you need to identify where you have problems and become creative and experiment with tactics to change the direction of your metrics.