Call it tough love in the cubicles.
Media company executives are finding that a firm focus on core competencies and unrelenting resolve to shed staff that don’t belong are keys to growth in the magazine industry.
Take Marcus Rich of IPC Media, who spoke at the Professional Publishers Association conference in the UK last month. Rich told his peers that “it is now imperative that magazines be transformed from a ‘burning platform’ into a growth business,” according to an article in the Guardian.
Rich isn’t kidding. New to his role with IPC, he knows he is on the hot seat and needs to reorganize for a better bottom line.
As did Emap’s Natasha Christie-Miller, who managed a turnaround of their key subscription business in 2012 to show that company’s first growth in subscribers in a quarter century.
“It has been crucial to reconnect to what our core purpose is,” Christie-Miller is quoted as saying in the article, “namely the selling of content to a professional audience. Emap’s most recent financial figures reveal revenues up to £71.3m while pre-tax profits were up year-on-year from £13.4m to £15.7m in 2012.”
How have they done it? Not but luck, but by clearly understanding their reader and why the magazine exists. And by being straight with their staff on who and what they are, encouraging those who don’t feel it’s a good fit to look elsewhere.
This is some refreshingly straight talk in an industry that likes to throw around its fair share of jargon.
“I am a great believer in straight talking,” acknowledged Andria Vidler of Centaur Media. In a curt message to staff, she told them that “if this is not what you want, we will happily help you try and find a role that is better for you in another organisation. But this is where we are going.”
“Advertisers are not looking for volume,” Vidler continued, “they are looking for quality audiences.”
This kind of pull-no-punches approach is desperately needed in a magazine industry that’s lost some of its focus. A sleek team, brutally focused on the core competencies, with a clear understanding of where the money comes from. We like to see companies making those tough calls.