How This Site Became a Multiplatform Ogranization

an interview with
Piers Fawkes Founder, PSFK

Piers Fawkes founded in 2004 initially as a trend spotting resource.  Since then PSFK has grown into a multiplatform organization, well respected as a source of ideas within the creative community.  I was reminded of this when attending the recent PSFK conference in New York City which rounded up an eclectic collection of speakers that were engaging, inspiring and not over-exposed.

Give me the elevator description of PSFK
PSFK is the go to source for new ideas for creative professionals. Every month a million designers, ad folks, digital entrepreneurs and media mavens get inspired by our content.

What is your business model?  Or what do you sell and what do you give away?
We are a hybrid company – Publishing, Events, Consulting. They are symbiotic. We create content (some which is co-branded), we host events (some that get sponsored), we advise some pretty interesting brands about trends.

Would you say you are in the curation business? Explain a bit if you can.
Yes. Our job is to find new ideas and we present them up to 50 times a day on our site. For our consulting business we have given clients like Nike, Target and BMW their own PSFK. The key difference between our publishing business and consulting business is that we conduct pattern recognition on the data on our client’s PSFK’s and tell them what we think it all means.

You had some great speakers at the last conference. You must have had a lot of options to choose from, what was your process for choosing the ones you did?
I read PSFK! Honestly – I chose from the NYC projects that we were writing about – and I dropped the people behind them a line.

There is so much interesting content out there, how do you decide what content goes on your website?
Our higher aim is to inspire people to make things better.  Better business, better environment, better world, better lives. We have about 50 regular contributors to the site and they write about a wide array of subjects and geography. Their brief is to write about signs of change that lead to progress – or the people behind them.

How do you measure the effectiveness of your conferences?  Website?
The conference is still evolving. The speakers thanking me for being part of it is important as is the number of people who watch the videos after. Website effectiveness is traffic mixed with reach. How many folks passed on our stories.

Or how do you know you’ve done a good job curating content?
Traffic is better than yesterday. We sell tickets faster than the last event! It’s not always that easy. Most days we want to host an event or write stories on a topic we think are important rather than what will sell tickets/get eyeballs. I hope the audience respects that. And enjoys it.

Do you expect the need for the type of content you curate to grow over time?  If so, why?
I think more brands are wise-ing up to the need for lateral and future-forward inspiration. Consumer insights helps you optimize for today. Trends research helps you innovate for tomorrow.

Why do you think world-class curators like the New York Times are struggling when the need for quality curation is greater than ever?
Our business model is not based on paid-for advertising.  Advertising’s business model isn’t based on paid-for advertising any more. Companies need to shift quick.

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