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Panpa Bulletin : September 2006
September 2006 PANPA BULLETIN | 29 PANPA CONFERENCE After too many years of doom and gloom and industry in- ertia, after too much talk about the tunnel at the end of the light, a clearer picture of newspa- pers' profitable, reinvigorated fu- ture is forming. The future for newspapers is only bleak if we fail to respond. Never before have we faced as many challenges. Media is diversifying at an enormous rate and advertising spends are fragmenting. But never before have we had so many real and sizable opportunities. The PANPA conference theme 'New Business in the News Business' is the right one and at the right time. It is about targeted opportunism, rather than false optimism. It is about exploiting our strengths, rather than exacer- bating our weaknesses by failing to respond to structural change. The state of the industry for publishers in this part of the world can now be summarised crisply. We no longer fear the future. We no longer doubt our role. We need no longer question our sustain- able competitive advantage. Newspapers are emerging as the core of a much more dynamic business model for publishers. We are evolving into what is now being dubbed 'Newspaper Media'. 'Newspaper Media' is a new name to reflect all the new things we do and will do as publishers. It is the daily paper, it is the community paper, it is the com- muter paper, it is the youth paper. It is newspaper-inserted-maga- zines, it is the niche publications which may be attached to a daily paper purchase if you want them, it is newsstand magazines writ- ten from the same stable. It is the newspaper online, it is a range of websites, it is the electronic edi- tion, it is the breaking news head- lines on mobile phones and other devices, it is the podcasts of news updates or opinion. It is through the exploitation of our 'Newspaper Media' opportu- nities that our audience reach is growing and our story to adver- tisers about our effectiveness is improving. In some markets now print and digital reach is now formally combined in official measure- ment releases to ram home the story of newspaper brand expan- sion and success. Aggregating such numbers is not done to gloss over changes and declines in specific channels. It is done to recognise that we now need to reach consumers in different forms at different times of the day to meet their changing media demand. We can now recognise that our range of print and digital offer- ings can be strongly positioned as complementary products. Each with their own tailored content, each with their own targeted format. As their roles and strengths of our new products become clearer, we can no longer afford to posi- tion them or build them as substi- tutes which merely shift eyeballs or erode margins. 'Newspaper Media' compa- nies are exploiting their content advantages by spreading and tailoring that content across dif- ferentiated products and across methods of deliveries to meet evolving consumer demand. The approach exploits our ex- isting brands and yet it also rec- ognises in some cases we'll need new brands, too, especially in ter- rain where our old ones cannot or should not traverse. The approach also recognises that product inno- vation in whatever format must be continuous and completely reader-obsessed. Most importantly our content costs, which we have been rightly so focused on as classified ad rev- enues shift, can now be spread across the new range of products. This year has seen a step- change in how many in the news- paper game see ourselves in a business sense. We know there is no future if our core strength has become cost cutting alone. That is not a word against cost cutting. Let's be clear. Cost containment is now locked in. You cannot be a media execu- tive in 2006 if savings ideas do not genuinely excite you. A great savings idea will, after all, lead to even greater investment ideas. The newspaper media model is built on a confident match of cost containment and growth engage- ment. Either on their own is com- mercial death. Twice this year I have heard Wall Street Stockbrokers tell media executives that they fully expect newspapers' famous earnings margins to inch lower as media realigns for the dig- ital world. Most importantly, the analysts said they were happy to accept this as long as it is to be accompanied by revenue Newspapers evolving into newspaper media At the plenary session of PANPA s Conference, Robert Whitehead spoke about the dynamic new business model emerging with newspapers at its heart. This is an extract of his speech. We know there is no future if our core strength has become cost cutting alone Publishers in this part of the world are doing well compared with the US. Our business models are adapting faster and scoring signi cant digital successes continued page 30
November December 2006