Reinventing the media landscape

VRT Start-Up is the innovation department of VRT, the public broadcaster in Belgium. They are continuously in search for new ways to achieve the service mission of the VRT. They do this by setting up inspiring experiments for specifc VRT brands. In which they focus on the needs of the user, with special attention to the increasing number of available digital media.

VRT Start-Up works as a "lean start-up: they learn by doing. New insights are translated into formats, media products and working methods. 

We Are Tribe member Lien  reinforced the internal VRT Start-up team for more than 2 years and created the Media Innovation Toolkit in order to ignite the innovative mindset in the whole organisation.

We focussed on various tracks that constitute VRT's innovation funnel, studied how innovative ideas are nurtured, developed and eventually implemented and how this process aligned best with the strategy of the organization.

We Are Tribe members Lien and Maarten reinforced the VRT Start-up team in the Nieuwshub, to name one project.

The Why

The news department of VRT, the public broadcaster of Flanders has always been one of the most trustworthy news outlets of Belgium. As the first televised journal in Belgium, it has uphold and enforced a high standard in reporting the news, day in day out, since the 1950's. But in the last decennia, a lot has changed. Local news initiatives have been popping up, marketing driven news departments have found new ways to gather audiences online, and companies abroad have found their way to the Belgian audience. VRT, and the news department in specific, struggles to hone their way of working towards a more connected world, where social platforms dictate the rhythm of the news cycle.

The Goal

Optimize the online reach of the news department, make VRT News a household name online, as it is on television and radio, and get journalists to think in online formats.

The Challenge

VRT News is a subdivision of VRT, a company of more than 2000 employees, the department itself having more than 200 journalists. Scale is very important in such a working environment. To make the project succeed, we knew we would have to get as much journalists as possible on board , but at the same time we realised that a big group of employees did not see value in online journalism. Finding new formats was the easy part. Proving the value through analytics and making these innovations available to the journalists in an easy to use and scalable way would become much more challenging.

The Roadmap

First we did a full screening of the existing situation, from the point of view of the user. Quantitative and qualitative user research gave us a baseline. We created two teams: one, embedded in the news floor, bringing journalists and strategists together, to test out new formats and ways of reaching the audience. A second team focused on creating tools and apps, ensuring a simple and scalable workflow for even the most online inexperienced journalists. This way team A could come up with new video formats, and team B would create tools so it would be possible for everyone on the newsfloor to create these new formats.

The Impact

Although the online presence, and user awareness towards VRT News, did indeed pick up, even longer after we left, the most important impact of the project was the new found focus on the digital output the news department was, or could be creating. The formats we created helped gain new audiences, and VRT quickly decided that they needed to onboard new profiles, so that they could keep innovating at a constant pace. Following our recommendations, they hired a digital strategist, a number cruncher who could keep an eye on the analytics and a new video editor, who focussed exclusively on online video formats. 

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