Rapid Round Congress Q&A: Lucy Küng, Strategic Advisor, Board Member, Author, Speaker

There are very few people better placed to give a 360 overview of the future of the media than Lucy Küng. She is an author, researcher and academic who also sits on the board of several media organisations. She has been consistently ahead of the curve in predicting trends and what the implications might be for the industry.

Lucy believes that the key trend that will shape the media in the coming years is generative AI. In this interview she explains that while it might ‘reduce unrewarding and repetitive work and free up resources to invest in differentiated output, it is also competence-destroying.  All kinds of specialist capabilities held by media companies are suddenly open to all.’

So might we see yet another wave of disruption with entrepreneurs harnessing generative AI to create new media brands? Lucy thinks this might be the case

In this interview, Lucy talks about:

  • How she believes generative AI will impact the media
  • The changing nature of customer demand and how media brands need to respond
  • Why today’s media leaders need to focus on shaping company culture and nurturing talent

At FIPP World Media Congress in Cascais, Portugal, on 6-8 June, Lucy will discussing ‘Newsletters and maximising customer lifetime value: Understanding key drivers & their impact’ with Substack’s Reid DeRasmus as well as talking with Lance Johnson, Executive Investor and Advisor, and former CEO of Recurrent Ventures, USA about how to “Maximise your media potential: Unlock the long-Term benefits of operating in media verticals.”

For specially discounted tickets click here.

Here she responds to our rapid-round questions.

Who are you? And what is your role in the media/publishing? 

I wear three hats. One is as a strategic advisor to media leaders. Second, I’m a Senior Visiting Research Fellow at the Reuters Institute, where I get to explore the big shifts taking place in our ecosystem, and third, I sit on the boards of media organisations. Each of these roles is a privilege, and together they build a perfect flywheel. Through my research, I can delve deeply into complex issues, gaining insights across geographies and different types of organisations. My work within companies provides focus, and clarity on what works in the real world. 

What have been the highlights of your career in media/publishing so far? 

This blended portfolio is incredibly rewarding. There are so many highlights: I’ve been fortunate to have won prizes for my books, held some fascinating professorships, and been invited to join amazing boards. But the biggest highlights are when I add tangible value that probably means the most – be it when a book hits a real nerve in terms of increasing understanding, or when demonstrably improves performance in organisations I’m working with. 

Collaboration is also a consistent highlight. I am so fortunate to collaborate with inspiring individuals in so many organisations and academic institutions. It hits me consistently that the truly unacknowledged asset of the media sector is the calibre of the people in it – so smart, so committed, and so creative. 

What do you see as the three key trends in the media? Why are these trends important and how will they change media/publishing?

The three key trends I see are:

  • Generative AI
  • Structural shifts in consumer demand
  • Need to upgrade how we lead, to put more energy into the inner organisation

Generative AI is truly pathbreaking. It’s like a combination of the industrial revolution and the birth of the internet, and because it builds off, and adds value, to tools we are already using every day, it’s hit the ground running.  It’s hard to see an aspect of a media business that won’t be affected.  It can reduce unrewarding and repetitive work and free up resources to invest in differentiated output, but it is also competence-destroying.  All kinds of specialist capabilities held by media companies are suddenly open to all.  That lowers entry barriers and will bring in new entrants with lower-cost business models – anyone can produce professional-like content.  It reduces the bargaining power of suppliers like journalists and other creators. This is going to fuel competitive rivalry, especially because the sector has many locked-in players with a high emotional commitment to the field who are fighting for the same customer group. As a sector, we need to be learning fast and build domain expertise fast.

The structural shifts in terms of customer demand are more gradual but also profound.  So much of what the industry produces doesn’t reflect how people of all ages want to discover, read and understand information, or be entertained. If we can be open to these shifts and adapt as needed, we lean into growth. Failure to do so means the inexorable slide down the food chain continues. 

For leadership, there are just so many signals that we need to take the inner organisation more seriously, and up our game in terms of how we lead, build culture and curate talent. We can’t deliver on any of our strategic priorities if we don’t have the organisational muscle in place, and as a sector, we tend to over-index on strategy and under-index on getting the human side of the enterprise right. 

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About Congress

The FIPP World Media Congress is a must-attend event for anyone in leadership positions in the media. Delegates can hear from an incredible range of media thought leaders and influencers while networking with their peers in the resort’s stunning venues and hotels.

For specially discounted tickets click here.


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