I first heard of ghost repeaters through a songwriter I love, Jeffrey Foucault, who has a song — and an album — called “Ghost Repeater.” As Foucault explained in the liner notes:
“Ghost Repeaters are empty radio stations scattered around the country to re-broadcast demographically tailored playlists, endless echoes of American market culture, from thousands of miles away.”
I remember my days at BuzzFeed when we’d try a new idea — quizzes, video, email — and then dozens of copycats would spring up, seemingly overnight. I remember being at The New Yorker, seeing other sites realize that our subscription strategy was working, and then watching other news organizations across the country try to copy it. Some of these places put their own spin on things, but many were just ghost repeaters — copying even the tiniest details and formats.
Original ideas are hard to come by. When I look around the media landscape and beyond, I see a lot of the same ideas, repeated over and over again.
But the thing is, what works for one place might not work for you. When I give talks about my work at BuzzFeed and The New Yorker, I always say: My team had success with these sorts of ideas, products, and tests. But don’t take my word for it. Try it yourself. See what works best for you.
And one more thing: Focus on your unique audience — who are they, and what do they need that only you can serve? Focus on delivering value for them every day. Focus on being the best version of you — with whatever it is you do best.