Why Forbes Scoops its Own Best Stories

Forbes-coveradFor media brands, the decision to post content online or in the printed magazine can be agony. At Forbes, they’ve got it figured out.

The story is hot, the topic is trending, and the article is beefy and rich. Do we put it online right away, or hold it for the next issue? It’s a common enough scenario at media brands today, accompanied by lots of handwriting.

At Forbes, editor-in-chief Randall Lane has a definitive answer when asked how he decides.

“At the end of the day, the story has to appear. You don’t sit around and wait. One example is our exclusive coverage of Peter Thiel backing the Gawker litigation. We were very happy to cannibalize our sales and burn a magazine story. That story belonged online immediately,” Lane said to Chris Roush in Talking Biz News.

“What we then did do was that after we made the news and drove the narrative, we did a definitive behind-the-scenes look at how it happened,” Lane continues. “The model of 10 or 15 years ago would have been to hold that scoop. No, that story was fast-moving. The process is if it’s breaking news we’re going to put it online, but if it’s a deep dive, we’re going to put it in the magazine. The goal of the magazine is to drive the narrative. The default is get it out, not sit on it.”

This kind of approach sits well with the folks in the C-suite; Roush reports that Forbes Media’s president recently called the magazine “the front door” of the brand.

The secret to Lane’s confidence? It’s a careful analysis of what makes each channel unique, and a good understanding of what their readers want.

“What is very important is to look at each platform and focus on what makes that platform great. There is no one size fits all,” Lane explains. “What makes a great website, a mobile experience, a live event is different than what makes a great print publication. So what I have tried focus on is what people like in a

We say it all the time: Print has specific and distinct benefits that other channels can’t match. When a brand gets it – really gets it, and commits its editorial process to that – good things happen.