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WAN-IFRA 2009: ‘Treat the reader as a CEO and develop other elements around him’

03-December-2009
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WAN-IFRA 2009: ‘Treat the reader as a CEO and develop other elements around him’

While a lot was discussed about the threat of online media to the print industry, the session on ‘The power of print’ at the 62nd World Newspaper Congress took a fresh look at the business that still makes money, remains credible and effective, and is still hugely popular. There were case studies presented by Ravi Dhariwal, CEO - Publishing, Bennett, Coleman & Co Ltd (Times Group); Martim Figueiredo, Publisher & Editor-in-Chief, ‘i’ daily newspaper, Portugal; Mark Hollands, CEO, Newspaper Publishers Association, Australia; and Peter Kuisle, Executive Vice President - Sales Board, Manroland AG, Germany. The session was chaired by Abhijit Pratap Pawar, Managing Director, Sakaal Media Group.

Ravi Dhariwal took the audience through the evolution of the brand ‘The Times of India’. He said that the centre of the brand philosophy revolved around readers and they promote it like a FMCG brand. “Basic fundamental of the brand is treating the reader as a CEO and developing other elements around it,” he said adding that a newspaper should create news about itself by constantly innovating and taking up new ideas. He gave instances of the national causes that the publication took up like Lead India and Teach India campaigns. He said that the publication was experimenting on extending the brand in regional languages, for example, Kannada in Bangalore to make it local.

Martim Figueiredo then spoke about his media brand ‘i’, which had got the “Newspaper of the year” award in just six months of its launch. He noted that they wanted to build a media brand that is profitable and a daily newspaper was their first product to start with. Figueiredo then explained the layout and design of the paper and their content policy which made them grow its leadership by leaps and bounds.

“Today, 22 per cent of our readers are new newspaper readers, 39 per cent are women, 72 percent are of higher class of the society and 45 per cent of them are university graduates,” he said, speaking on the reader profile. He also explained how they had integrated the brand values to the website and also the architecture of their newsroom. Replying to one of the questions from the audience, he said that as the industry scenario in Portugal did not allow a subscription model for newspapers, they had to sell it from news-stands because of which their costs of distribution increased.

Mark Hollands then gave a presentation on the print industry scenario in Australia and how the industry was still resilient and optimistic. In Australia, about 90 per cent of the print market was owned by four big media groups, he said, which alloweds them a greater market reach and bigger scope for diversification. “Another fundamental difference was that we started talking to the advertisers in terms of audience reach and not readership, because those were the figures used in other media like radio and television,” he added.

Hollands further said that the last six months had been very tough for the industry in Australia, but the market was holding up well in terms of its circulation. As part of the future action, there might be a trend of increasing their process outsourcing and might even go offshore, he added.

Peter Kuisle then spoke about three strategic approaches that newspaper companies could adopt to increase their revenues, which were launching new attractive products, high quality printing, and maintaining cost per copy by technological advancement.

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