I recently had an engaging conversation with Diane Byrne entrepreneur, journalist, accomplished online publisher of the Megayacht News , and founder of RedHedInk The distillation of what I came away with was, if you really make the effort to understand your audience, you can be successful in just about any industry, even as a woman in the male-dominated world of Super and Mega yachts!
Diane’s foray into mega yachts started 20 years ago when she was interviewing at a major yachting magazine. At that time she was an experienced writer and staff editor for a children’s health magazine, a far cry from super & mega!
The interviewer was quick to tell her “this is a male-oriented publication, over 97% of our readers are yacht owners; as a woman how on earth can you write for our audience”? (remember this was 20 years ago, and to be quite fair he did preface the question by saying he was going to play devil’s advocateJ)
Diane was even quicker to come back to the interviewer, asking him a question and drawing a comparison between decision-making in parenting, and knowing your audience, referencing the traditional women’s role in charge of the children: the interviewer admitted that when it came to parenting decisions it was he the husband & his wife that made them together. Each could make parenting decisions, as they both knew their daughter. It doesn’t matter who or what you are, if you understand and know your audience.
“An audience of one can be all you need, for the most important conversation in your life” Chris Westfall wrote in a recent post on discovering your perfect audience Even with the yachting magazine interviewer’s “harsh” questioning; by understanding how to communicate with him, Diane crafted exactly the right analogy, to make exactly the right point about herself, and got the job!
By 2008 she was transitioning from traditional ways of doing business, to using the tools of social media. She researched at length, listened to what was going on, and soon came to the conclusion that “social” business was about sharing, conversation, and engaging, rather than the traditional “broadcasting”; quite counter-intuitive for someone coming from the magazine publishing space. Knowing how to research for articles and stories enabled her to find out how “social” worked. She says that doing research is really no different today; we have much better tools, with more and better results, faster.
On twitter, I am Diane’s audienceJ I first met her online last year in the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show hashtag/stream where I was cruising under my twitter identity @BarnFindRiva. It’s always interesting to me that even in the world of 140 characters one can quickly recognize those who clearly have their “act” together! It was obvious to me almost at once, that she knew how to use 140 to get a message across; she engaged with others including me, and she posted really good content, either in share mode or via her own Megayacht News, which I later found had received an award for best online publication in the boating industry.
I had noticed for some time that the yachting space is still “behind the times” (my words), “insulated” (Diane’s words), when it comes to understanding and using social media. IMO there are tremendous opportunities here, but as ever, it will come down to knowing the audience. Diane is living proof, and does a continuous “show and tell” of her own “social” success within the yachting industry, aiming to remove others fears of getting started in “social”, and helping yacht owners and builders on their journey to know their “online” audience. This equates to “how do we engage online in a social network, when all we have done in the past is broadcast?” Fifty immediate shares on a social online platform of their recently introduced Mega Yacht, does make quite the point! Sold!
Diane had an interesting take on “but isn’t print dead?” She is a strong advocate for the future of print; believing it will evolve, just as radio has, over decades and generations. “The audience is still there, people still want the “look and feel” of a print magazine”; and we both agreed that though still in its infancy, “interactive” print publishing might be just the ingredient that evolves print to the next iteration. Note that radio is still around, and still evolving….
The central theme that ties it all together, is knowing your audience. Diane “knew” her interviewer 20 years ago (audience of one). She writes successfully for yacht magazine readers (and has for 20 years). She knows her online Mega yacht News audience, (which includes me)! She understands her “social” audience, and shares her knowledge! And as the founder of RedHedInk, she is totally in tune with the high-net-worth, niche luxury audiences her company focuses on.
I strongly suspect that if Diane went into any new, different, challenging career, the same would still be true. She would know (learn) exactly the right questions to ask, the right stories to tell to get her message across to her audience, whether it’s a room full of millennials or a conference of nanotechs! It’s not only who you are (and although sometimes it might be who you know), it’s always knowing who your audience is.
What do you do to understand, gain insight about, and know, your audience?