Archive for the ‘Business communication’ Category

Help young people understand the world

February 23, 2015

Help crowd-fund this worthwhile project in journalism. I did.

http://bit.ly/1BFZkF2

Financial Times “goes through Gutenberg moment”

March 5, 2014

FT logo

 

 

The Financial Times has just gone through its “Gutenberg moment,” with digital revenues for the first time outstripping print, according to managing editor James Lamont.

Setting up a paywall for its internet news site was its biggest decision of the past decade. “It was a good decision. It has guaranteed our survival. We are profitable and we can see our future,” he told journalists studying at the Reuters Institute in Oxford.

Highlights from his upbeat talk:

– Digital subscriptions have been rising at an annual rate of 31%.

– The move to digital meant profits grew 17% last year on a revenue increase of only 1%.

– Fastest growth is in mobile, which accounts for half of traffic to ft.com.

– Print circulation continues to decline (to around 240k), but is profitable because of cheaper print technology and rationalisation of distribution. “We want to keep print going.”

– The proportion of revenues earned from content grows – now 63% compared with 37% for ads. “There is a secular decline in advertising, but we can now survive on subscriptions.”

– Sales are predominantly in 1. Continental Europe 2. UK, 3. US. 4. Asia. “We are global.”

– Web analytics show a “long tail of stories nobody reads.” They are cutting down on those.

– Analytics show at what times readers in the main regions access its news. This led to changes in news schedules.

– The Financial Times increased its journalist staff from 450 to 611 between 2005 and 2011. Now there are 571. It hires five journalists a year from outside.

– It hires journalists on the expectation they will stay for 20 years and have five different jobs. One in four changed jobs last year.

– News stories on multiple platforms have become shorter. “Engagement,” “community” and “relevance” are the buzzwords.

Committed to journalism – the Reuters Institute’s 30th anniversary

September 11, 2013

by Monique Villa

Reproduced by kind permission of The Baron http://www.thebaron.info/

Spending a week-end in Oxford is always a treat, but spending it with the likes of Mark Thompson, CEO of The New York Times, Nathalie Nougayrede, Director of Le Monde, John Stackhouse, Editor-in-Chief of the Globe and Mail, and more than 100 fellows from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, was a real uplifting experience. Uplifting because a large degree of optimism in the future of journalism emerged from the two days’ celebrations and discussions.

The fellowship programme was the first launched by the then Reuters Foundation 30 years ago, and its anniversary was celebrated in style with almost 200 participants, mostly still journalists, coming from all around the world, with their suitcases full of memories and ideas. Seven years ago, the fellowship became the Reuters Institute, a partnership with the University of Oxford.

Mark Thompson kicked off the two-day event with the Reuters Memorial Lecture. And no, he didn’t talk about the BBC. Instead, he gave a fascinating insight into the complex dynamics of pay-per-read and digital advertising.

It is remarkable to see how the rise of social media is forcing long and well established publications such as The New York Times to re-think the entire business model, making video a key asset of their offering. “It’s one thing” – said Thompson – “when you compete with other newspapers in terms of digital impressions – it’s another when you compete with players such as Google and Facebook with their billions and billions of impressions”. He said the newspaper he manages leaves money on the table with advertisers because they don’t produce enough videos, the holy Grail of advertising online.

Mark Thompson stressed the importance of quality journalism, highlighting how time, accuracy and authority are even more precious at a time when everybody creates and circulates news via twitter. I agree with him, social media is not a substitute for journalism, and newspapers brands are surely not becoming obsolete.

What I found fascinating about this Oxford gathering was the palpable level of optimism shared by the executives of prestigious newspapers.

Both Nathalie Nougayrede and John Stackhouse depicted a future where newspapers will become more and more competitive, both commercially and editorially. It was refreshing to see an outspoken French woman outlining – in flawless English – the challenges and the opportunities ahead of the French media landscape. And it was captivating to find out how the Globe and Mail had shut down its print edition for a day – this past Labor Day – to drive users to a new, and enhanced online edition. The risk is part of a wider and bolder strategy at the Canadian newspaper that gives editors a financial premium if their audience online grows. The move, so far, has paid off, but it has also raised eyebrows among those who fear the red line between editorial and commercial could be blurred.

The role of women in journalism was also on the agenda. I was the moderator of an interesting panel which included: Suzanne Franks, Professor of Journalism at City University, Sue Lloyd Roberts, Special Correspondent at the BBC, and Laura Saarikoski, Sunday Editor at the Helsingin Sanomat, the biggest Finnish newspaper. Despite the recent boom in the number of female students enrolled in journalism courses around the world (in some cases up to 90 per cent of the students are in fact women), only a tiny percentage makes it to the very top. Why? The panelists were unanimous: childcare and family responsibilities. Even in Finland, where the government has a clearly progressive agenda when it comes to equal opportunities, maternity and paternity leave, a good number of women make it to middle management positions, but not to the role of Editor-in-Chief. According to Laura Saarikoski, this is due to the fact that women have an embedded guilt complex, which prevents them from putting career at the very top of their priorities. I don’t fully agree with such view, and the fact that two women are leading the editorial teams at The New York Times or at Le Monde is there to prove that things are changing fast.

I agree more with Suzanne Franks when she says that the career of most female TV presenters ends at 45. Sue Lloyd Roberts puts it in a very powerful way: successful female journalists are seen as a “third sex”. “They simply don’t know what to make of you”, says Sue – admitting that while reporting from tribal Afghanistan she was allowed to drink tea in the company of local men, while their wives remained segregated to the kitchen.

Seeing over 100 fellows from more than 40 countries in Oxford this weekend is direct evidence of the great success of the Reuters Institute that the Foundation partly funds. Great credit goes to David Levy, its Director, who has in four years succeeded to transform the Institute into a global player, with its trusted publications massively downloaded around the world. The Institute is today at the forefront of providing trusted information and data for media and policymakers adapting to the new challenges of the profession.

As Mark Thompson puts it: “Why did Jeff Bezos buy the Washington Post? Has he seen anything that the rest of us haven’t?” We don’t have the answer. And that’s why we need the Reuters Institute to pursue its mission of shedding light and provide analysis in the fast evolving media landscape.

The Thomson Reuters Foundation is fully committed to journalism and to supporting the RISJ. Our Chairman, David Binet, came all the way from Toronto just for the event, as a testimony of this lasting bond. ■

Monique Villa is a French journalist, business leader and women’s rights advocate who joined Reuters in 2001 as managing director of media after a career as an Agence France-Presse correspondent and manager. She became chief executive of the Thomson Reuters Foundation following the acquisition of Reuters by Thomson Corporation in 2008.

Will The Economist’s phenomenal success feed through to Reuters?

August 26, 2013

(This article first appeared on 24.8.2013 on The Baron, a web site covering media trends http://thebaron.info/.)

In appointing a senior manager of The Economist as “chief executive, Reuters, running news and media business from London,” Thomson Reuters has picked talent from one of the world’s most successful news businesses.

Instead of turning to another wizard from America, the company is looking towards a UK-based organisation which has built a powerful readership worldwide including the U.S. The Economist boasts playfully that it is the Voice of God: read its content once a week, and you know all you need about the world.

So what are the keys to success that Thomson Reuters must surely be eyeing in choosing Andrew Rashbass? Some of his colleagues recently briefed journalists attending the Reuters Institute in Oxford:

– The Economist has a circulation of 1.5 million, making 70% of its revenue from subscriptions and 30% from advertising. It is profitable on subscriptions alone. In five years, the ratio is expected to move to 80:20 or more. So much for the myth that nobody pays for news in the digital era.

– Digital publishing grows rapidly, but The Economist finds that print is far from dead. In fact, it tends to be more profitable.

– The Economist employs only a handful of staff journalists. But it draws on a powerful array of expert writers who produce dauntingly thorough series on subjects such as the U.S., China, India, international finance, technology and science.

– It surprises readers by writing about topics they had no idea mattered.

– The Economist does not try to be impartial. It believes readers accept an openly expressed point of view. It is liberal, socially and economically, and sees this predictability as a strength.

– Its journalists don’t write just for the weekly edition. They keep the news flowing in between in the form of blogs. They use feedback from the blogs to adapt followups.

– They see apps delivering news to tablets and smartphones as a more promising business model than web sites with paywalls, because consumers feel they are getting the whole news, not bits and pieces.

Some of The Economist’s lessons will not apply, and Reuters brand already carries authority. But Reuters does not quite have The Economist’s intellectual firepower. It has introduced comment, but it is varied and unfocused. Reuters avoids having “a line,” and in The Economist’s experience that is not a plus.

Look at Reuters web pages, and you see a disparate array of stories – some financial, some global, others lightweight and local. While Reuters has more experience of running 24-hour news, it has struggled to make it profitable. Its web sites have no paywalls.

By refocusing on the name “Reuters,” Thomson Reuters is signalling that it wants to make serious money from news. This has been the Holy Grail for Reuters throughout the ages.

Rashbass, who has been guiding a highly profitable global news brand, has been brought in to deliver.

I Skype .. and my PC suffers serious damage

July 30, 2013

Half-way through a Skype video call with my daughter, the video froze. At the end of our talk, neither of us could exit Skype. My whole PC froze too, and I could not restart.

The IT guy who took it into care says the PC and its systems were seriously damaged.

Skype, he says, it a relatively open system and it is not difficult for a malevolent person to penetrate into your PC during a conversation. I must say, I did not know that.

After 48 hours of cleaning and repairs, he got it back up again to where it was.

My daughter says her Mac froze too, but she could restart it after turning the power off and nothing was amiss.

Macs, says my IT guy, are more resistant to such attacks. My creative arts daughter kindly rubbed it home with another lecture about my Neanderthal computing choices.

How I missed out on my PhD. OK, you can smile

October 15, 2012

Today I read that research presented at the annual conference of the Society for Neuroscience in New Orleans shows people smile at people they feel either superior or inferior too. But (says Evan Carr of the University of San Diego) they don’t smile at people they feel equal with and want to compete with.

I have to reveal that I came to exactly that conclusion 10 years ago while I lay in my bath. Now I realise to my chagrin I could have got a PhD out of this. I could be touring lecture circuits attracting smiles from countless admirers who feel inferior to me.

As it is, I am getting by on the superior kind of smiles. But just don’t try to compete with my deep insights. I can be very hatchet-faced.

Sponsorship: beware of killing the goose that lays the golden egg

May 21, 2012

On Saturday I watched one of soccer’s great events, the European Cup final, which, as countless TV ads told me, was not so much football but an opportunity to Witness History with Mastercard.

In today’s Times is an advertisement for one of England’s top horse-races – the Derby. Or rather, as the ad put it, for the Investec Derby Festival, Horseracing’s Jewel in the Crown, Proud to be Part of the Diamond Jubilee’s Celebrations.

A glamorous female dominated the ad. No sign of a horse. Investec’s name appeared 15 times, Derby three times.

Sponsors should be careful not to wreck the popular culture at the heart of what they put their money into. Hyperbole, greed and commercialism may pile up the money. But it could end up killing the goose.

If you want to convince, you also have to speak AGAINST your case

February 26, 2012

If you want to persuade someone to do what you want, also speak openly about the alternatives – maybe the opposite of what you desire.

Say you’re asking your boss to fund a major project you’ve been working on. You want his approval badly. Otherwise months of work are for nothing.

The temptation is to concentrate single-mindedly on the reasons why he should approve. It goes against the grain to talk down your own case.

But you have to. Evoke the possibility that the project would be taken no further – to save money or avoid the risk of failure. Talk about other projects which could be given priority.

If you don’t bring these negatives up, he certainly will. He may wait until the end, and throw you on to the back foot with a torrent of objections. You’ll have lost the initiative.

Talking openly about the alternatives shows you are open-minded, not just selfishly playing to your own interests. It shows you can be realistic and objective. It gives you the opportunity to anticipate objections and deal with them in your own way.

It’s tough to speak about unpalatable alternatives openly, but once you’ve spilled them out, you can move on to the powerful reasons why your way is right after all. It’ll sound more convincing.

Good luck.

To communicate effectively, first analyse your audience

February 19, 2012

Here are a few tips how to communicate effectively so that you convince someone to do what you want. The audience may be one person – your boss for example – or a whole group.

Before you start, analyse who you are talking to:

• What do they expect?
• What do they hope?
• What do they fear?
• What are their prejudices?
• Are they aggressive, indecisive, tricky, helpful?

Then use your analysis in preparing what you’re going to say:

• Anticipate objections
• Satisfy hopes
• Take prejudices into account
• Bring out helpfulness
• Make it easy for them to decide

If you do all this, you may make them feel they have actually decided themselves. It’s great to have your boss lecturing you to do what you’d been aiming at all along.


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