Today marks eight years since MTA opened its doors to an eager media market. Although, as it turned out, the media market in 2008 was not that eager: within weeks, the global economic collapse had gathered pace and there was precious little investment in the industry. Timing has always been my strong point.
Nonetheless, we landed two clients in the first couple of months. The first client, one of the UK’s largest consumer publishers, remains a client today. The second – an international news and data business – led to a multi-year project which saw us recruiting for bureaux around the world (Russia, China, Europe and the US). Strong partnerships like this have been our mainstay ever since.
I recently had lunch with the CEO of a media business which also launched in 2008. His business has grown to several divisions, across a whole range of media (digital, print, events, research and video), with turnover in the tens of millions and 300 plus people. He believes businesses that launched in 2008 are hard-wired to win: born into adversity, we remain lean, review our models and working practices, and strive to stay ahead of the field, he says. We recognise that complacency is the death of business – after all, it was the complacency of the banking industry that nearly brought us all down.
While I cannot claim that our business has grown to the same extent, I do think that, like my client, MTA has succeeded through a willingness to learn new tricks. We have moved voraciously into new disciplines, and learned a great deal along the way. The love of learning is absolutely key – it stops complacency, for a start.
Like it is for most of our clients, ours is a people business. Who we hire is critical. I am incredibly proud of the people who work here, and our track record in retaining these key people. Our business is accumulative: the more knowledge we can amass, the better we can serve our clients. Yes, we recruit great people for them: but the more fundamental thing is that we can advise on how to develop their businesses, the structures they need, the industries that are crying out for their expertise. When our clients start thinking about their futures, we have normally been there before.
So, eight years have been well spent. Along the way we’ve helped clients through massive changes: from print to digital, from ad-funded to subscription, into new revenue streams and diversified product areas. We’ve also worked on launches, relaunches, on business-as-usual, integrations, and worked alongside clients on everything from start-ups to £10bn multi-nationals.
I can’t speak for everyone here, but I am looking forward to the next eight years – and I have no idea what to expect!
All I know is that we will all enjoy learning as we go.