Kelvin MacKenzie – big mouth strikes again

I don’t wish to turn our blog into a Kelvin MacKenzie fun-athon, but his decision to instruct his lawyers to demand an apology from South Yorkshire Police – with the implicit threat of further legal action – for the ‘vilification’ he has endured since Hillsborough simply beggars belief.

MacKenzie, lest we forget, has long claimed that his news sense is second-to-none. In his most recent statement, he has claimed

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The challenge of e-lending – will it help sustain media jobs?

Tomorrow, the DCMS will publish its recommendations on best practice for how (and if) public libraries should lend e-books. It’s not straightforward, as this item on C4’s news tonight demonstrates. There are four parties involved – users, publishers, authors and libraries themselves – each of which demand satisfaction.

Libraries have always challenged the publishing business model; but e-lending, with the implicit suggestion that the reader can borrow a book at any time from anywhere, throws the doors wide open. A drop in

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Media headhunters’ view: Marmalade deal could spread Blackberry apps

There might finally be a chink of light for beleaguered RIM. Marmalade, the maker of software development kits, announced earlier today that it will offer licenses to mobile app developers looking to bring apps to Blackberry devices.

It can’t come too soon for RIM – that’s the view I and my media headhunter colleagues hold – which has seen both its revenues and share price take a hammering as consumers and enterprise customers switch to iPhone and Android devices in their droves. A three-day outage at the tail end of last year didn’t help, and nor has a string of uninspiring

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Media recruitment tips: Don’t follow Kelvin MacKenzie’s Hillsborough mistakes

Amusing though it was to watch, Channel 4’s doorstepping of former Sun editor Kelvin MacKenzie added little to the debate about the mistakes made at Hillsborough and the way it was reported.

If you need the key to Kelvin Mackenzie’s attitude to news, the best document I know of is his speech to the Leveson inquiry in October 2011. It is entertaining, combative stuff, full of the usual bluster – I would recommend reading the whole thing, media recruitment tips it does not offer, quite the opposite really. It contains this passage about a story he ran in 1987 – two years before Hillsborough:

“Question seven basically wanted to know if an editor knew the sources of many of the stories. To be frank, I didn’t bother during

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Murdoch at 11th place in The Guardian’s Media 100 is too low

At this time every year, The Guardian publishes its Media 100 – a list of the most powerful people in the UK sector. At this time every year, our media executive search team spends 20 minutes in the office dissecting it, and some time texting those people we know with jokey messages about their brilliance or under-representation. And at this time every year, I write nothing about it.

There’s no point getting hot under the collar about the often seemingly arbitrary names that start to come in after place 20 on the list. The fact that there are 47 new entries on this year’s list illustrates the point: the media market is moving fast, of course; but not

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Media headhunter’s view on Sky and Public Serving Broadcasting

I am writing this at 9.15pm on a Monday night simply to avoid the agony of watching Andy Murray in the US Open final on Sky. Not because I dislike Murray: I am one of his most ardent supporters. But I can’t bear the tension. Let me know how it goes.

Instead, I am listening to Test Match Special while England play South Africa in the second T20 international. It’s been cut to nine overs apiece, so I haven’t got long. This after watching coverage of the Olympic parade through the centre of London on BBC1; and following on from Channel 4’s coverage of the Paralympics, which finished yesterday.

A glut of sports, then. But one thing strikes me – the excellence

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Christopher Fordham replaces Richard Ensor as Euromoney Managing Director

It was announced today that, after an extensive media executive search, Euromoney Institutional Investor has replaced its MD, Richard Ensor, with a member of the Euromoney board, Christopher Fordham. Moreover, it was announced that Ensor would become Executive Chairman of the business, replacing Padraic Fallon who has held the position for a number of years.

This is one of those moves that normally makes me raise my eyebrows. You call that a search? Usually, given these announcements, I am reminded of James Murdoch’s appointment as CEO of BSKyB in 2003 – and look how well that turned out.

But Euromoney is arguably different. While it is self-evidently true to say that a company has a unique culture, in Euromoney’s case this has been critical in its success. And it has been incredibly successful: it has a market cap approaching £1bn and is likely to announce profits of over £100m this year. As this article shows, when Ensor took over, the company was making one tenth of that.

Fordham joined the company in 2000 (placed, as it happens, by my former business partner John Watts), and has since overseen a hugely successful strategy of organic and acquisition-driven growth. Like his predecessor, he is very smart, with an absolute grasp of detail and a gut instinct for strong businesses. He  will fill Ensor’s boots admirably – just as Ensor will fill Fallon’s.

I don’t envy the search company that had to try to better Fordham (it wasn’t us). Executive search is all about covering the market to ensure that your client has absolutely the best candidate for the job. As frustrating as it may be, you sometimes have to accept that the best candidate is already in the business.

Martin Tripp Associates is a London-based executive search consultancy. While we are best-known for our work in the TMT (technology, media, and telecoms) space, we have also worked with some of the world’s biggest brands on challenging senior positions. Feel free to contact us to discuss any of the issues raised in this blog. 

Mail Online is growing: will it kill the paywall and lead to media jobs hires?

The Guardian’s Dan Sabbagh yesterday noted that Mail Online’s revenues have grown by 69% in the last year, from £16m to an estimated £27m. For Sabbagh, this is vindication of the Mail’s advertising-fuelled approach (and by extension, The Guardian’s) over News International’s much-criticised Times paywall. Since the wall went up, the Times’s growth has been respectable, but there are signs that it may be slowing down, with NI attempting to make up the shortfall with price hikes, particularly for tablet subscriptions.

It’s worth pointing out that even by Sabbagh’s calculations, The Times website appears to be making more through subs that The Guardian’s is through advertising, but any sign of slowing growth is a worry. This is where the Mail’s astonishing success comes in – Mail Online’s growth has been built on a platform of traditional Mail readers, bored office workers and enraged Twitter liberals. It’s difficult to read an article like this recent piece on the French election and not see a calculated attempt to whip up some lucrative, hit-friendly outrage. But it works – the Mail’s online alchemy means they’re making money even from people who hate them with a passion. Who’s likely to pay for a Times online subscription? People who already like The Times, and there’s a finite number of them.

But all this means that Mail Online is fully integrated into the way that news is predominantly consumed in 2012 – and putting journalists into media jobs – as office browsing material or part of a noisy and often chaotic network that includes other news sites, blogs and social media. Whether they’re fuming at a disparaging piece on the NHS, trawling for football transfer gossip or just looking at large pictures of Rihanna in a bikini, it means people click, people link, people debate, and then yet more people click. The Times’s paywall has cut it off from this ecosystem.

That’s not to say that paywalls can’t work under any circumstances. Far from it – parts of the B2B sector have had considerable success by charging for information people have to have and are willing to pay a premium for. They’ve largely done better than their advertising-driven rivals. The less rigid subscription models favoured by the likes of the FT and the Economist have been broadly successful. But these are titles that occupy a particular niche within their marketplace – even a Times exclusive will be followed up by the Telegraph, Guardian or BBC within minutes.  News International’s defenders will point out that people have always paid for printed news in the past, but cover prices have only ever represented a small proportion of overall newspaper revenue. If The Times’s online growth is indeed levelling off, it’s time to rethink that paywall.

Martin Tripp Associates is a London-based executive search consultancy. While we are best-known for our work in the TMT (technology, media, and telecoms) space, we have also worked with some of the world’s biggest brands on challenging senior positions. Feel free to contact us to discuss any of the issues raised in this blog. 

Economist revenues up despite print advertising slump

A lesson for traditional publishers everywhere- and perhaps as a knock-on the media jobs market – in the news that the Economist Group has managed to raise pre-tax profits by 9% year-on-year, despite a 17% fall in print advertising revenue for its UK title.

The Economist has been so successful at offsetting the ill effects of the ongoing print advertising storm partly because it’s been prepared to be innovative without jumping on bandwagons. While they’ve embraced tablets and smartphone apps, gaining 10,000 digital subscribers in the process, they’ve resisted the temptation to try and beat rivals in the breaking news game. And, crucially, they’ve managed to grow their digital business without cannibalising print subscriptions. Magazine subscriptions have held steady and print revenue was up 8% despite the advertising slump.

Of course, it can’t hurt that casual interest in economics has been sky high over the last few years, and that the Economist has a generally affluent readership. But it’s also succeeded by flying in the face of print publishing’s received wisdom that in the age of the internet, people want short, punchy, accessible content quickly. For years, magazines have raced to cut word counts and big words alike, oblivious to the fact that readers can get content like that on the internet anywhere. But the Economist’s success shows the opposite, that the publications best placed to survive are those who can provide an authoritative voice and something of substance to their readers, without underestimating them. Denser, longer-form articles still work better in print than online, and the Economist looks good on coffee tables. A bit of humour helps too (see left). A lesson for magazine publishers everywhere, if they’re prepared to heed it.

Martin Tripp Associates is a London-based executive search consultancy. While we are best-known for our work in the TMT (technology, media, and telecoms) space, we have also worked with some of the world’s biggest brands on challenging senior positions. Feel free to contact us to discuss any of the issues raised in this blog. 

Warren Buffett is buying local newspapers – is this good news for media jobs?

So, Warren Buffett has decided the time is right to buy local newspapers. Not content with snapping up 63 daily and weekly newspapers of Media General, it seems he is eyeing more acquisitions. Could this be good for the media jobs market in the US?

Why would anyone want to buy local newspapers? Why, in particular, would the world’s most successful investor want to buy local newspapers? The perceived wisdom is that it is a shot business

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The career dangers of tweeting

This article first appeared in Press Gazette

There was a minor palaver a couple of months ago when Datasift acquired the rights to search the last two years of Twitter feeds to serve its clients’ market research purposes. It was widely reported as a threat to privacy – equated with Google’s autoscanning of your Gmail account to target advertising.

Of course, there is no comparison. Twitter is, by its nature, a public platform. Facebook is – for most of its users – also public. So what has this got to do with a column on careers?

Ask Octavia Nasr. In 2009 she was dismissed from CNN for a tweet which

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Local news success must come through relevance

I recently read an article by James Ashton in the Evening Standard which is one of the most incisive I’ve read in recent times about the plight of regional newspapers and the knock-on effect for media jobs in the regions.

It is ironic that, while we have a culture secretary who is championing “ultra-local” broadcast businesses, print equivalents are rapidly losing the sense of identity that makes them a ‘must buy’. Of course, it is an expensive thing to maintain a news centre

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Codename Orbis: the PS4 rumour-mill can only be good for media jobs

An unnamed Kotaku source caused a flutter of excitement yesterday by claiming that the PS4 is expected to launch around Christmas 2013, and is codenamed Orbis. While doubts persist as to the veracity of these claims, it’s believed that “select developers” have already received development kits for the new console. It can only be good news for developer and media jobs in the long run.

Apparently, the Orbis won’t be backwards compatible with PS3 games, potentially disappointing millions of gamers. But most intriguing is the news that the PS4 will have some kind of functionality built in that will prevent the use of pre-used disc games – locking a particular disc to a single PSN account.

At the very least it will severely limit the functionality of second-hand games. As an anti-piracy measure you can see their thinking, particularly as full retail games will be available in download-only format. But as someone who grew up eagerly borrowing and lending cartridges in the playground, it’s hard not to feel like something’s being lost here. Regardless of the truth or otherwise of yesterday’s rumours, expect something spectacular.

Tax breaks for creatives – more please, it’s good for media jobs

A day before the RTS awards, it’s good to see the government heavily trailing tax breaks for British TV productions in this week’s budget. Obviously, this is not yet policy; we wait to see how this will pan out on Wednesday. Nonetheless, an article in the Guardian today illustrated the huge impact these – relatively inexpensive – tax breaks can have on the industry. They can, for example, be great for media jobs creation.

Downton Abbey was, of course, a huge success. While it did not

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Recruiting into media executive jobs: Kingfisher and Burberry lead the way

At this week’s Retail Week Conference, Kingfisher chief executive Ian Cheshire told delegates that they need to improve innovation in order to remain competitive and that retailers will need to recruit people with a “real point of difference and who understand brands” because it is a different skill to those who trade the business.

As well as recruiting for technologists who can lead innovation recruiting into media executive jobs is vital. Retailers should carefully consider

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Game BAFTAS: the media headhunters’ predictions (with a bit of help…)

Tiny pixellated characters the world over will be spending today rehearsing their acceptance speeches and perfecting their gracious defeat faces, as tonight sees the great and the good of the games industry pitted up against one another at the Game BAFTAs.
So here are the media headhunters’ predictions (with more than a little bit of help from tech journalist and blogger Daniel Nye Griffiths – actually, we asked him for his verdict on the frontrunners, and who he’s tipping to take home the big awards – this is all his work…):
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Zombieville developer pulls out of Android – is this a trend media recruiters should keep an eye on?


Not long after I posted yesterday’s entry on the importance of content to mobile OS’s, my attention was drawn to this post from Zombieville developer Mika Mobile. Essentially, the company has decided that it isn’t making enough from Android downloads to merit the time it takes to keep them updated, and is pulling out of Android development altogether:

“We spent about 20% of our total man-hours last year dealing with Android

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Content creators hold the key to mobile OS success

Mozilla’s recent announcement that it is working on its own Linux-based mobile OS, with the first devices expected to ship later this year, will drop yet another system on a smartphone market already heaving under the weight of iOS, Android, Blackberry OS, Windows, not to mention smaller players such as WebOS. It’s a brave move

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A media search consultancy view on privacy, Twitter, and social media

It’s been a funny week for privacy. First, Google launched their long-anticipated unified privacy policy, despite objections from EU lawmakers. Second, the Leveson enquiry heard evidence that Police officers were being paid to pass on “salacious gossip” to certain parts of the UK media. Third, Twitter and Datasift caused a stir by signing a deal which allowed the Reading-based company access to two years of archived Twitter data, and this

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Media jobs: movie marketing lessons – what’s the strategy?

Speaking on Radio 5 Live to Simon Mayo and Mark Kermode today, Andrew Stanton, director of John Carter, complained that people were fixated on “the money”. “It’s the most boring subject in the world”, he protested. “I make films for myself.”

Of course, it is difficult to criticise someone with his track record (Toy Story, Wall-E, Finding Nemo, etc). But, as Kermode later protested, if you spend $250m on making a film, people are bound to focus on the money. Investors want a return

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Media recruitment: taking content marketing lessons from editorial experts


I wrote a marketing letter today. Not surprising, I grant you. Except that I mentioned – without irony – that non-media brands require “media skills” to create trust. Given the current crises in the media sector, this may have seemed chutzpah of the highest order.

The Leveson enquiry, and all that it encompasses, shows that (in the UK, at least) trust in traditional media is collapsing. The newspaper watchdog, the PCC, has failed. The industry has been accused

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Media recruiting: managing your career starts at the bottom of the ladder


This article first appeared in Press Gazette

At the end of last month’s column, I wrote: “That thing they always said about treating people well on your way up because you might need them on your way back down is really true. I can think of a number of people who struggle to get work because they burned so many bridges in the past.”

I have written little about the importance of maintaining good relationships in your career; cynically, it might be called career management. A great many people in business

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