Dear MxM by Jaisurya Das: Are acquisitions of media companies a new trend?

13 Oct,2016

By Jaisurya Das

 

Ladies and Gentleman, Welcome back to a fresh week of Dear MxM, your favourite counsellor online.

 

You have to hand it to Bhaskar Das and the others at DNA. It’s not easy to decide on launching a fresh print product in a market like Delhi. This market has the dubious distinction of keeping its two major players HT and TOI trigger-happy and deep in belief.

I did glance at the e-paper and it’s indeed fresh, designed with an international feel and smart overall but does print have a chance in this gross digital world.

To be honest, I fear the worst. The audiences of today do not believe in the medium, leave alone one brand of newspaper. They consume everything that is brought to their notice but unfortunately news doesn’t figure in this smart list.  Conceptually, DNA has it right and it’s different but does it have the gumption to fight a lonely battle with the digital world??

DNA has burnt its fingers more than once and this time it’s obviously determined to make it work. It’s all good on social media and the likes of that with pleasantly happy photographs of the paper but out there in the market it’s an august audience that it has to capture..

An audience that neuroscience fails to decipherer… an audience that flirts incestuously with brands that have stood the test of time.

I sincerely hope that this is only about wielding the power of the pen in the cities that matter and nothing beyond. For the rest, only time will tell…

For now however, it’s best that we switch gears and move on to our questions for the week from our esteemed readers in Mumbai, Lucknow, Ahmedabad and Kolkata…

 

Sir, I have heard of people switch from journalism to sales in media organisations. But not much the other way around. Why?

Simple, my dear friend. Not everyone who can sell can write..! And vice versa so transition isn’t as easy as it may seem. Most organisations would do anything to offer job rotation but it isn’t always practical.

Yes, there are several people who make the switch and well too but it’s not something that is very simple to achieve. Both journalism and sales need skillsets that are very different and gaining ground at it takes time, effort and a lot of patience among other things..

The most important aspect in such a job switch is the passion to pursue a laterally different stream and the confidence to work on the skills required to max it. Not many of today’s young professionals have it in them to put that extra effort to build on craft, and more two distinct crafts.

However, as I mentioned, if you do have it in you, go for it. It may take you a while to get the right break and build your niche but it may just be worth the effort.

 

I am hitting myself for not approaching DNA newspaper when it was launched in Delhi. My family said that the newspaper has closed editions in cities like Bengaluru and Pune in the past, so it was risky. When they told me this two months back, I thought it was a reasonable argument. Sir, tell me, how does one take a decision on issues like these?

Why this new found interest in DNA? Or is it just about wanting to move jobs and the workplace? DNA has just entered Delhi and it’s far too early to predict the outcome. Print as a genre is facing several adversaries all at one go. Spiralling DVC (Direct Variable Costs), dearth of good talent, advertiser attrition, cannibalisation and above all, a new audience who don’t believe they need a newspaper in their lives.

Tough call and hence I see reason for your parents to be concerned, more so with their recent closures in Pune and Bengaluru. Yes, it’s different this time, but will it stand the test of time and market?

Most often, it’s best to go with the market in these matters. If you don’t have the risk-taking ability, wait and watch. Opportunity will be many. Much like a software update on your machine, give it a while to settle in and then decide if you wish to apply.

And, yes, if you believe a good dive will help, go for it, tiger! There isn’t life without risk. I believe so.

 

Your answer to someone from Kolkata got me to ask this. What if I am from Delhi who has a job offer in Mumbai? And what about the other way around Mumbai to Delhi?

You can move to Kohima and do as well! This is about you my friend and how you see yourself in a strange market. Some people have the capacity to make things work and be happy in any environment, though it isn’t easy.

Mumbai to Delhi sees several moves, quite often because of the company HQs located there or for a specific launch besides personal reasons etc. Most people adapt well and soon enough though each city has its share of kinks:)

I have moved cities several times during my corporate days and each one has been an experience of sorts. I don’t regret a single move I took and it only helped build perspective further. Your ability to get along with different people and cultures is tested time and again.

The thickskinned survive and do well and move on. Weak minds get taken over by the search for comfort zones and that’s where the problem lies. As long as you are much focussed on your objectives, all will be well. After all, we all belong to the same race and country. Jai Hind!

 

Sir, I read about many acquisitions of media companies? Is this a recent trend, or were all these always happening?

Oh, yes, there have been several acquisitions worldwide and for decades now. Media is a business like any other and hence open for mergers, acquisitions and collaborations. Often this is done to strengthen the brand bouquet of the leader or to garner higher overall market shares.

Tumbling revenues coupled with high costs are a hallmark of media companies nowadays and unfortunately results in severely hit bottomlines. Often the recourse is a dilution of stake by its promoters. Sometimes a total sell-out too.

The pressures are higher today thanks to several factors; Own genre competition (print vs print, TV vs TV) and the distinct move to digital and other forms of portable media. Advertising spends are lower than before, reader interest dropping rapidly and a growing young audience who only consume digitally.

This obviously translates into poor performance and accumulated losses over the months leading the promoters to exit strategy adoption. ‘Get your pound of flesh and move on’ before it comes crashing down is the obvious recourse in a lot of these cases…

 

But this isn’t the time to worry about accquistions my friends.. It’s the time to celebrate success in every respect. It’s the Diwali month and that’s all about the good life!

So get set to start shopping, binge-eating and more! Remember, life is to celebrate. So what if it adds to the damn lipids!! Be good, be nice, and be sensible this season. The rest is left to your fertile imagination.

Till next week then, Sayonara and Farewell!

Keep hitting send on all those questions ( editor@mxmindia.com) with ‘Dear MxM’ and your ‘City’ in the subject line. I promise to read all of them.

 

 

Jaisurya Das, the maverick media-evangelist eats, sleeps and romances brands !

His cerebral consulting interventions are aimed at making brands powerful and sustainable. He is also Contributing Editor, MxM India. For more information on his work visit www.xanadu.co.in

 

The views expressed in this column are his own.

 

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