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Where’s the real value?

James Evelegh's editorial from today’s edition of InPubWeekly.

By James Evelegh

Catrin Griffiths speaking at the PPA event. Photograph: PPA

Data is king; data is the oil that lubricates the publishing engine; data-driven this; data-driven that; Yadda yadda yadda…

Yes, we get it! Data is important but, on its own, is it enough?

That was the message I took away from Catrin Griffiths’ excellent presentation at last Friday’s PPA Independent Publisher Conference.

Catrin is editor of Centaur Media’s The Lawyer and is the current PPA Editor of the Year (Business Media).

The Lawyer, which used to be a controlled circulation title, is now flourishing behind a paywall and makes good money from data. However, its main data product – Lawyer Market Intelligence (LMI) – got off to a hesitant start.

A lot of money and effort had gone into researching and creating LMI and it was launched in 2016 with great fanfare, but was greeted by a collective shrug of the shoulders from the legal profession.

It made some money, but not masses. It was all a bit of a “damp squib” revealed the refreshingly honest Griffiths.

What had gone wrong? What was the missing ingredient?

The answer – analysis; the expert commentary and insight that interprets and brings dry data to life and gives it real commercial value.

This is what readers of The Lawyer valued most, but what was missing from early iterations of LMI.

As Catrin said: “Data on its own can’t solve anything; you need narrative and for that you need to invest in your journalists.”

You must nurture them, empower them, train them, support them, and I’m sure Catrin would agree, pay them properly.

Great content by great journalists is not a commodity but the lifeblood of professional publishing; it’s the differentiator. It’s what separates successful publishers from the rest.

Content will always be king.