Magazine article Marketing

Raymond Snoddy on Media: Digital Kick and Rush Is a Puerile Tactic

Magazine article Marketing

Raymond Snoddy on Media: Digital Kick and Rush Is a Puerile Tactic

Article excerpt

The future is endlessly fascinating, and trying to predict it has turned into the Holy Grail for the media.

Everything from volumes of opinion from the industry glitterati's opinion and tomes from consultancy groups, to set-piece speeches from the heavyweights and pricey conferences in beautiful settings are being devoted to forecasting the future.

The quest is often as fruitless as trying to work out the odds of England winning the World Cup before a single ball has been kicked. But just occasionally, somebody comes up with a startling image that illustrates an underlying truth.

Earlier this month, at the Media 360 conference in St Andrews, entitled Converging Media Converging Minds, Matthew Batstone, group marketing and strategy director of The Economist Group, was asked to muse on the future of the media.

Batstone is a man worth listening to on the subject of the future; he has already shaped a bit of it by taking a rather obscure British weekly magazine with an offputting title, making it global and boosting its sales to more than 1m. Moreover, he is comfortable about envisaging the future of a printed magazine that could achieve sales of 1.5m and even beyond.

At the event, Batstone said that in recent years, when confronted with rapid technological change, the media has behaved like a group of nine-year-olds playing football. When the ball is kicked into one corner, all the boys rush after it. If the ball goes to the opposite side of the pitch, they all hare off that way. In such a game, Rupert Murdoch would undoubtedly be a team captain.

There are always apocalyptic voices at media gatherings these days. At St Andrews, one of the star turns was Richard Eyre, former chief executive of the ITV Network Centre, who sounded the death knell for newspapers.

It was, he said, very difficult to imagine a future for them. It should, however, be remembered that this is the same Richard Eyre, who, in a MacTaggart lecture at the Edinburgh Television Festival, forecast that the death of public-service broadcasting would occur ... about now.

But Eyre is caution itself compared with BBC director-general Mark Thompson.

In his recent Fleming Memorial lecture, Thompson, who has shown a tendency toward visions in recent years - the merger of Channel 4 and Five being one of his finer moments - was at it again. …

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