Building Audiences and Content in the Political Media Industry – Bubba Atkinson (Monarch Media Ventures)

Eric Wilson
September 27, 2023
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Building Audiences and Content in the Political Media Industry – Bubba Atkinson (Monarch Media Ventures)
September 27, 2023

Building Audiences and Content in the Political Media Industry – Bubba Atkinson (Monarch Media Ventures)

"You can get the center left and the hard right to agree on a lot of things, but you have to present it in a certain way. It can't be combative. And that's how I view a lot of conservative medias, is quite combative."

Bubba Atkinson is Co-founder of Monarch Media Ventures, a digital media consulting and video production firm. He was employee number 10 at Axios where he led audience growth and video strategy. Prior to that, he was editor in chief of IJ Review, the viral political news website.In our conversation, we discuss the state of news media, audience building, and what you need to know to succeed in today’s content landscape.

Click here to learn more about One Dollar News.

Episode Transcript

The State of News Media and Politics: Insights from a Media Expert

00:00:00 - 00:01:05

In this podcast episode, Eric Wilson interviews Bubba Atkinson, co-founder of Monarch Media Ventures, about the state of news media, particularly in relation to politics. They discuss the importance of presenting ideas in a non-combative manner to bridge the gap between the center left and the hard right. Bubba Atkinson shares his insights on audience building and the evolving content landscape. With his experience at Axios and IJ Review, he provides valuable advice for professionals in the political media industry.

The Need for a New Conservative News Source: A Manifesto

00:01:05 - 00:03:06

In this transcript, Bubba discusses his latest venture, $1 News, and the manifesto behind it. He highlights the current landscape of news media, particularly in politics, and the challenges of consuming news in the digital age. Bubba emphasizes the abundance of content, the role of algorithms in sorting information, and the limitations of existing news apps and mainstream media outlets. He argues that there is a market for a consistent, simple, and reasonable email product catering to conservatives. $1 News aims to fill this gap by providing a new source of news for conservatives.

The Gap in Conservative Media and the Economics of News

00:03:06 - 00:09:07

In this transcript, the speaker discusses the gap in conservative media and the dominance of left-leaning news outlets. While conservative media like Daily Wire and Breitbart exist, they are not sufficient antidotes to the corporate-dominated news media. The speaker argues that conservative outlets like Daily Wire focus more on ideology and less on news and information. They highlight the need for conservative media to deliver facts and hard news with an editorial outlook sympathetic to the right. The speaker also explores the role of economics in media, noting the shift from print to online and the lack of a reliable business model for straight news. They discuss the success of personality-driven right-wing outlets and the importance of subscription models and targeted advertising. The transcript concludes by acknowledging the challenges in the media industry and the rise and fall of different outlets due to factors like algorithm changes. Overall, the transcript addresses the gap in conservative media and the economic challenges faced by news organizations.

Creating Content and Building an Audience in the Digital Media Landscape

00:09:07 - 00:13:37

In this transcript, the speaker discusses the misconceptions and challenges in the current media ecosystem. He emphasizes the importance of understanding the audience's interests and needs when creating content. Instead of focusing on creating new content, he suggests hunting and gathering existing content and making it accessible to the audience. The speaker also highlights the significance of distribution and audience growth, stating that distribution is king. He encourages experimentation and a systematic approach to content creation and platform selection. Consistency, curiosity, and adaptation based on feedback are key factors in building an audience and creating a center of gravity around it.

Cracking the Code: Finding Success in Political Content Creation

00:13:38 - 00:16:03

In this transcript, the speaker discusses the types of content creators in the political space that they find interesting. Rather than focusing on specific individuals or outlets, they emphasize the importance of genuine and unexpected content. The speaker appreciates content that goes beyond simply trying to provoke or own the opposition, and instead values content that is unique, memorable, and outside the echo chamber. They suggest that in the future, political content creators should consider vlogging their lives or using visual aids like documentaries or data visualizations to engage their audience in a more meaningful way.

The Value of Curation in Digital Media and Political News

00:16:04 - 00:19:07

In this transcript, Bubba Atkinson discusses the importance of curation in a world filled with an overwhelming amount of content and media. He emphasizes the value of pulling out the signal from the noise and repurposing it into digestible and consumable formats. Bubba highlights the need for creating or repackaging content to make it ready for viral sharing. He explains that it doesn't require a content savant but rather a technician who can edit and enhance the content with captions and proper cuts. Bubba suggests that politicians should provide resources that gather their content from various sources and offer insights and commentary. He believes that such curated content would be more valuable and engaging to the audience. Lastly, Bubba promotes the Business of Politics podcast and invites listeners to support it by joining the Startup Caucus Network.

The Future of Digital Media: Trends and Opportunities

00:19:07 - 00:23:34

In this transcript, Bubba discusses the current trends in digital media and the opportunities they present. He highlights the increasing value of niche content and the decline of traditional news outlets. Bubba also mentions the rise of independent journalists and the success of platforms like Substack. The use of artificial intelligence in content creation is also discussed. Bubba emphasizes the importance of expertise, point of view, and audience engagement in the evolving digital media landscape.

Unlocking Revenue: Shifting Audiences from Free to Premium

00:23:34 - 00:24:46

In this transcript, the speaker discusses the importance of shifting audiences from free products to premium offerings in order to generate revenue. They highlight the Pareto principle, which states that 80% of revenue comes from 20% of the audience. The speaker suggests starting with a lower-priced product, such as a $5/month newsletter, to capture a larger audience and then gradually moving them towards more premium offerings. They use Axios as an example, where free newsletters generate some revenue through ads, but the majority of revenue comes from subscribers, sponsors, and ultra-premium offerings. The speaker emphasizes the need to adopt this model, especially in politics.

The Power of Premium Offerings and Subscription Models in Content Marketing

00:24:46 - 00:26:58

In this transcript, the speaker discusses the common practice of using email lists and clickbait tactics to generate revenue in the content marketing industry. They argue that instead of constantly bothering everyone for money, businesses should focus on creating premium offerings for their top tier supporters. By turning followers into subscribers and maximizing their lifetime value, businesses can create a healthier and more sustainable revenue model. The speaker also criticizes the use of clickbait tactics and urges for a more ethical approach to the industry. They suggest that the person who can provide compelling reasons to give will ultimately succeed in the saturated digital market.

The Future of Political Campaigns: Embracing Digital Media and Direct-to-Consumer Strategies

00:26:58 - 00:29:36

In this transcript, the discussion revolves around the potential trends in digital media and social media content that could influence the 2024 presidential election. One notable trend is the use of thirsty fundraising tactics, which are evolving and garnering curiosity. Vivek Ramaswami, regardless of personal opinions, has effectively utilized his media presence, appearing on numerous podcasts and engaging with his audience through conference calls. The attention that Trump receives for his statements prompts speculation about what other candidates will do to stand out. Some candidates are relying on debates while others are exploring alternative strategies such as vlogging or direct-to-consumer communication. The conversation also touches upon the shift from traditional retail experiences to direct-to-consumer models and the possibility of a similar transition in the political realm. The transcript concludes with a call to action, encouraging listeners to share the episode and subscribe to the Business of Politics show. Overall, the discussion highlights the importance of embracing digital media and innovative strategies in future political campaigns.

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Eric Wilson
Political Technologist
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Managing Partner of Startup Caucus