Last week, Martin wrote about how necessary content could make it simpler for B2B media firms to carve out a significant piece of the digital landscape for themselves.
The problem for a lot of content businesses, particularly consumer-facing ones, is that despite the merits of what they produce, it’s not essential for their readers.
2016 marks twenty years since I became a headhunter. While that makes me feel incredibly old, it has been a fascinating time to be an observer of the media landscape across the UK and beyond.
When I first started, the internet existed, but was a hard-to-use and limited resource with dial-up access. Email also existed, but not in my office (we relied on faxes). Things were changing, yes; but no-one had really grasped the magnitude of what was about to happen.
If you really want to know how much the media world has changed in the intervening years, imagine saying this back in 1996:
“There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don’t know we don’t know.”
It is one of the most derided quotes of all time: simultaneously mocked both for its obviousness and its obscurity, Donald Rumsfeld was trying – ham-fistedly – to explain US foreign policy in Iraq. And we know how well that turned out.
In his 2011 AdWeek memoir on David Ogilvy, the advertising legend, Kenneth Roman tells the following story:
“At one board meeting, he [Ogilvy] gave directors sets of Russian nesting matryoshka dolls. Inside the largest doll a smaller one, then a smaller one, and so forth. Inside the smallest doll there was a slip of paper:
“If we hire people who are smaller than we are, we will become a company of dwarfs. If we hire people who are bigger than we are, we will become a company of giants.
“Hire people who are better than you are. And pay them more than you if necessary.”
It is a great guiding principle. The smart manager hires the best team and revels in its success – a success which reflects well on all of them; everybody wins. The less smart manager hires down, the team struggles to meet targets, and the manager ends up blaming team members; nobody wins.
Last month, I had a surprising conversation with a regular media client. He’s used Martin Tripp Associates extensively over the years, but only to help headhunt content roles. I was amazed that he was unaware we also recruit in other areas – heads of digital, marketers, general management, commercial roles, strategy directors, and so on…
So, being a statistics geek, I thought I would share the following infographics with you. They help visualise what it is we do here. Based on last year’s activity, the first chart shows a breakdown of our assignments for media clients according to the disciplines we recruited.
While ‘General Management’ was the largest single category we worked on, the big rise was for ‘Product/Insight’ roles and this reflects a trend toward better-informed product development and customer-led innovation.
We have also seen rapid growth in demand for digital-savvy commercial leaders. They are in short supply, and highly prized by their employers; like the Product/Insight people, the best are only found and recruited by a thorough search process.
What does a typical night-in look like in in the ‘teenies’? X Factor on the TV? Youtube during the breaks on an iPad? A constant stream of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram updates in-between? There’s also email and texts to check, not to mention all those WhatsApp messages flying back and forth.
Ask a digital advertiser about the biggest challenges they see ahead and they’re likely to tell you it’s this type of ‘dual screening’. Or, more accurately, it’s the inability of advertising to follow consumers as they hop from one device to the next. But all that could be about to change…Yes, welcome to the Brave New World of Sequential Messaging!
For the uninitiated, sequential messaging is the ability for marketing communications to leap between screens – for a campaign to play out in a chronological succession that builds from an initial touch point on TV, then across Twitter and so forth, dependent on a consumer’s next point of interaction with digital media.
It is an over-simplification to say that businesses behave and grow like people: from selfish baby, to disruptive toddler, to self-conscious and defensive teenager, to the increasing comfort and complacency of the twenties, thirties and forties. Still, I’ll stick with it. And I’m intrigued, at the moment, by the transitions between stages. There have been many examples in recent months of businesses which have attempted to grow up. And some that just haven’t tried.
Children in their early years expect everything to be given to them, and – despite last year’s John Lewis advert – expect to give nothing in return. Matt wrote yesterday about Xavier Neil’s attempt to block Google advertising on his ISP, Free. His stunt was overturned by the French government; but what lay behind it was a serious question. The content – and advertising that goes with it – that Google and others provide requires ever greater bandwidth; but, like spoiled toddlers, they expect the ISPs and telcos to pay for the infrastructure without any share in the advertising revenues. It is not sustainable; the industry needs to mature, and find a compromise, this should help the development of further media recruitment.
Dermot Murnaghan interviewed me today on Sky News about George Entwistle’s departure and the new search for Director General at the BBC. It was a warm-up for his interview with Tim Davie, which ended testily, with the acting DG saying he had a job to get on with and walking off. In contrast, my interview was the very embodiment of civility.
Prior to my interview, I was asked several questions by Sky staff which didn’t make it to air – and some may be worth recording. The following contains a summary of those questions and my answers.
Q: Is it normal for internal candidates to be appointed?
A: As has been fairly well documented, the media headhunters concerned in Entwistle’s recruitment (not us) approached and interviewed a broad range of candidates for the role. The shortlist contained
Gordon Brown once famously said that there are two types of Chancellor of the Exchequer: those who failed, and those who got out in time. The same may be said of Director Generals of the BBC.
George Entwistle might be feeling like Napoleon’s apocryphal unlucky general today. In a few minutes, the BBC will air its Panorama Special on the Newnight investigation into Jimmy Savile, and why that investigation was dropped. (It is an interesting scheduling choice to put the programme up against Newsnight itself.) Peter Rippon has already “stepped aside” as the programme’s Editor while the matter is investigated; Entwistle’s role in the decision making process
There has been a small but, I hope, significant trend over the last few days. ‘Traditional’ UK consumer media companies have been announcing encouraging results – let’s hope the media recruiting follows. Today’s announcement from the Lebedevs that The Evening Standard has made a £1m operating profit in the last year was preceded a few days earlier by Briefing Media’s short blog on the fortunes of IPC, Dennis, and Haymarket.
Whatever its shareholders may think, News Corp
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
It will be fascinating to see whether Elisabeth Murdoch’s MacTaggart lecture (full text here) signals a glasnost moment in the relationship between BskyB and the BBC. While it is important to note that she is not an executive at either News Corp or BskyB, her company Shine is owned by News Corp, and her membership of
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
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
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
This article first appeared in Press Gazette
In the fourteen years I have been a headhunter and media search consultant, I have been lucky to have worked across an astonishing range of titles and products: from Horse & Hound to The Financial Times, from heat to AOL. We have recruited journalists for Reuters in Russia, Euromoney in the US, and, toughest of all, Saga in Folkestone. Bella, Men’s Health, The Jewish Chronicle; all boast current editors recruited by us.