Time for print media to shift gear

Newspapers and magazines urged to adopt new business models to survive

By Issac John (associate Business Editor)

Published: Wed 29 Apr 2015, 12:42 AM

Last updated: Thu 25 Jun 2015, 11:45 PM

Charles P. Awad, director of group marketing communication at Al Futtaim; Gary Burandt; Emma Keenan; Ali Asgar Mir; and Bob Morrison at Icom International Conference in Dubai. — KT photo by Rahul Gajjar

Dubai - The print media has to adapt to the fast-changing technological developments to stay afloat or it will become outmoded very fast in the ongoing digital revolution, Bob Morrison, chairman of Icom, the world’s largest global network of independent advertising and marketing communications agencies, said.

“The hunger for news will remain as ever, but the way it is being consumed is changing fast. Therefore, the print-to-digital movement calls for new businesses models for the print industry,” Morrison said on the sidelines of Icom International Conference in Dubai at the Intercontinental Hotel at Festival City.

The three-day conference, hosted jointly by the network’s two Dubai-based members Ikon and Gmasco, drew participants from most of the countries Icom operates in.

Gary Burandt, the outgoing executive director of Icom; the incoming executive director Emma Keenan, and Ali Asgar Mir, Middle East regional director of Icom, were also present with Morrison, as he discussed the future of the organisation and strategies for expanding its footprint in the under-penetrated markets of Africa and Asia.

Burandt said print media might exist side by side with digital media if it could manage to be innovative and adapt to the fast-changing communications technology.

Over the past few years, technological developments such as smartphones, smart TVs, tablets and e-books, just to name a few, had a remarkably depressing impact on the print industry, making it almost obsolete.

Burandt said the share of advertising spend in digital media across the globe is growing at a fast rate, denting the revenue share of newspapers and magazines. Despite this, the print media is managing to keep up in most markets through innovative marketing strategies.

According to industry stalwarts, in some markets, newspapers have made critical changes by attempting to combat diminishing reader interest by shortening stories, adding commentary, and most significantly, using social media to their advantage. With the exponential growth in the popularity of several social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, the new-age media is entering a phase where news must be delivered in 140 characters or fewer.

Keenan was introduced to members at Icom’s global conference, which opened on Sunday. She was formerly VP and partner of Open2Europe media relations agency. As executive director of the 65-year-old network, she will lead and manage Icom’s affairs, including supporting members and their efforts to collaborate and bring new business to the organisation, said Morrison.

“Over the past years, we searched far and wide for the right candidate to fill the big shoes Gary Burandt is leaving behind,” said Morrison. “We are confident we found that person in Emma Keenan who brings a perfect combination of industry knowledge, network management experience and leadership skills. We are very excited about the prospect of Emma continuing to drive network growth and helping take Icom to the next level.”

Keenan said she was impressed not only with the expertise of Icom members in their respective markets but also with how supportive they are of each other’s businesses, readily sharing creative ideas and services. “This was one of the deciding factors in my decision to join the team. I’m really looking forward to taking the network to its next stage of development.”

Icom, a network of 84 advertising and marketing companies with presence in more than 60 countries, has a 65-year history of serving international clients in multiple international markets in all product sectors.

Burandt said Icom members meet twice a year, once internationally and once regionally, to ensure that member agencies are not just strange names at the top of an email. “The idea is to keep members up-to-date on our fast-evolving business and build professional and personal relationships. Our members help each other with new business because they know the stronger each member is, the stronger the network is,” he said. — issacjohn@khaleejtimes.com

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