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Opportunities & Threats: Consumer Media

David Hepworth's article in the Publishing Partners Guide 2018

David Hepworth

Posted on: 02 February 2018


In the words of David Byrne of Talking Heads, it’s the same as it ever was.

The opportunity is always the future. The threat is always hanging on to the past.

The opportunity is the chance to engage new generations of readers with paper and print, still the most sophisticated and flexible interface when it comes to the explaining of things. The threat is to be still so wedded to the sugaring of that pill with entertainment and variety that you don't deliver the thing that makes the medium work.

The opportunity is the value you have already created. The threat is that you will be so obsessed with creating new value, you fail to realise that somebody out there is ready to pay for what you have already done if it could only be made available to them.

The threat is that you are so engaged in the business of the traditional magazine craft skills involved in making a product that you haven’t got the energy to put into the opportunity to leverage your relationship with the community of people you manage to engage with that product. Even at its best, the magazine is only worth 50% of your relationship with those people. It’s the calling card, not the fundamental transaction.

The opportunity is to be able to deploy the skills of your people across a wide variety of media and activities. The threat is they will be so bogged down in executing the thing that mattered last year that they won’t have the bandwidth to make the thing that is going to matter next year.

The opportunity is you’re probably working with people who have the ability to tell stories – and this at the very time that this knack is most prized. The threat is that they only know how to tell those stories in one medium.

The opportunity is there have never been more graduates coming out of the educational system who want to do things in a different way. The threat is they’re going to set up on their own and start a company which you will then have to buy for top dollar. The even more dangerous threat is that they’re doing it already and you don’t know about it.

The opportunity is that brands are increasingly mistrustful of the digital marketplace and they’re looking to partner with brands like yours whose credibility in the market was established some time ago. The threat is that you’re not talking to them.

The opportunity is that you need your people to do new jobs. The threat is they’re too busy doing old ones.

The opportunity is the future. The threat is the past.

“The opportunity is you’re probably working with people who have the ability to tell stories … The threat is that they only know how to tell those stories in one medium.”

About David Hepworth
(Details last updated: 22 September 2017)

David Hepworth has worked in consumer magazines for over thirty years. As editorial director of Emap Consumer Magazines, he was involved with titles such as Smash Hits, Heat, Q, Mojo, FHM and Empire. He is a director of Mixmag Media, writes and broadcasts on media issues and is the author of the books, ‘1971: Never A Dull Moment’ and ‘Uncommon People: The Rise and Fall of the Rock Stars’.

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