WEEK 1: A Conversation with Guest Speaker Clint Schaff by Christopher Godefroy

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By UCLA X469.21 Student Christopher Godefroy

Christopher Godefroy

Christopher Godefroy

#ClintGonnaKnockYouOut.

It was a treat to hear Clint Schaff, hip-hop karaoke enthusiast and VP of Strategy and Development at the LA Times, discuss the ever-evolving media landscape and the iconic news outlet’s innovative plans to capitalize on changes in news consumption rather than be devoured by them. As Clint noted, “The future of newspapers is bleak; the future of news outlets is exciting.”

Clint’s seemingly paradoxical role involves determining how social media can influence traditional highbrow journalism, the latter of which has no interest in user-generated content. How can the LA Times produce stories that readers are passionate enough about to share on social media? One way is via mutually beneficial relationships with other companies.

clint schaff

Clint Schaff

Thanks to Clint, the LA Times has forged bonds with strategic partners for the first time in its 136-year history. A recent partnership with Apple resulted in the true-crime podcast, “Dirty John,” which I listened to in its entirety over the course of two days last week (#BingeListen). As a result of “Dirty John,” the LA Times brand is elevated as a provider of entertaining, thought-provoking content to younger podcast enthusiasts who may have never picked up a newspaper. That generation’s grandparents, longtime subscribers to the LA Times, are introduced to Apple’s podcasts as a form of news consumption. Win Win. Due in no small part to an abundance of #DearJohn posts on social media, as of last week it was Apple’s #1 podcast.

Playing matchmaker with businesses at the LA Times may have been inspired by Clint’s agency days. He walked us through a playbook he created for a dating site called Christian Mingle. The campaign strategy was astonishingly detailed, specifying font sizes and colors to be used for Instagram posts as well as the most effective times of day to share posts on various social platforms. With such precision involved in planning, one might expect predictable consumer response. While this is true in some regards, an often-overlooked outcome that Clint strives for is unintended positive reaction. A post’s success shouldn’t be measured by the number of Likes or Shares, but rather by more meaningful outcomes that can occur as a result. In this instance, perhaps a Facebook user shares a Christian Mingle post with a friend. That friend then joins the site and meets the love of his life. Decades later, one of the couple’s children develops a cure for cancer. For the record, I’m not saying Christian Mingle can cure cancer, but it would certainly be an unintended positive reaction.

Many thanks to Clint for sharing his insights. His stories were informative, entertaining, and inspiring, much like the content he’s now helping produce for the LA Times.

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