INMA: Pressure is good; competition can be creative for newspapers, says George Brock

INMA: Pressure is good; competition can be creative for newspapers, says George Brock

Author | Abhijeet Mukherjee | Friday, Nov 16,2007 6:14 AM

INMA: Pressure is good; competition can be creative for newspapers, says George Brock

Though the scenario in the newspaper industry is not rosy across the world, newspapers in many markets are under pressure. There are challenges that young readers do not develop the habit of reading, profit margins are sliding, and information today is no scarcer. Yet, according to George Brock, Saturday Editor, The Times London, and President, World Editors Forum, there is still an optimistic future. He was speaking on the second day of International Newspaper Marketing Association (INMA) conference.

Speaking on the topic ‘Don’t believe everything you read about newspapers’, Brock said, “I feel the pressure is good and the competition is creative. Pressure makes you ask powerful questions like, what value are you adding, what are newspapers and news sites in the spectrum of media choices.

Talking about the trends emerging in the newspaper industry, Brock elaborated, “While there is still space for old publication, new newspapers are certainly welcome. The trends right now – in India and worldwide – is the hunger for business news; as also the growth of vernacular press and cultural nuances, which is quite visible in India. Along with coverage on health and lifestyle, advertising is also significant growing in newspapers. Newspaper formats are changing, they are expanding internationally; newspapers are getting into mobile, while mobile and computer screens may become sharper in the future to enhance reading. Stings and snack-related news are also making foothold in many countries.”

He also said that advertising revenue would not elude print due to intervention from digital media. “Even though global advertising revenue is growing, basic principles of journalism would remain same in the long run. The reputation of a newspaper is often based on its specific topical content and style of writing,” he said.

Girish Agarwal, Director, DNA and Bhaskar Group of Publications; and Sanjeev Bikhchandani, Co-Founder and CEO, Info Edge, better known for its website, discussed on ‘Driving Growth in Circulation, Readership and Audience’.

Agarwal spoke about his own experience in the Ahmedabad market where Bhaskar conducted in-depth surveys to better its circulation. “Newspapers have two phases – the launch phase, followed by consolidation, expansion and sustenance. Gujarat Samachar was doing well in other parts of Gujarat, but its in Ahmedabad was not impressive. We approached our consumers and conducted a survey to understand them, and that worked in our favour. Marketing is just a tool, while newspaper is a whole game of content. Readers buy newspapers for content. Marketing brings consumers to newspapers once, but the onus of circulation later lies on the editorial.”

According to Bikhchandani, “One must be either the first mover or at least an early mover in the market. It is essential to develop niche and new product categories to be ahead of others, as well as understand the customers. The content strategy was the key differentiator between and other existing job websites.”

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