Change is in the air – and I’m not just referring to the rather chilly winds that have been blowing down across the Arabian peninsula for the past couple of weeks. For a change, the effects of global warming and the El Niño effect has brought colder air to regions that aren’t so used to it. Yes, I know that we will have to pay for it with a much more severe summer, but then that is still a few months away.
The rough and ready of the economics of the Oman media scene has had its effect over at Automan headquarters. We’ve had an organisational change, with some changes in how we operate. But thankfully, our commitment to the greater cause of building on Automan’s unique position in Oman and its fierce reputation for independence has seen us emerge as a leaner, tighter operation.
But then the malaise that is afflicting publishing in Oman and the broader region has managed to claim a few worthy titles over the past few years, with two more automotive names dropping out over the new year. The main reason for this is not a change in the way people consume magazines or newspapers – it is the belief advertisers have that somehow the micro-doses of media consumption that we have on social media is somehow replacing the role of traditional media.
A recent media drive event was a sign of the times. Stuffed to the rafters with bloggers, ‘Youtubers” and so called digital influencers, the traditional print media journalists were outnumbered. The sheer numbers meant that the available cars were crowded, anyone who had a GoPro camera managed to steal cars away from the fleet and now we had practically everyone posing in front of the car for a selfie or the video equivalent of it.
I know car companies are exploring every avenue to boost car sales. I sat down with someone for lunch at this event who honoured me with the information that he wrote a blog. He didn’t seem to know anything about the car in question, so I wondered what exactly he would tell his audience? I hope that marketers are doing their homework and actually measuring these interactions in terms of whether the spend is worth their while. And more importantly, I certainly hope that this sort of over-the-top inclusiveness is limited to events in the region.
However, this year will also see many of this breed of media bite the dust. Do you really believe that marketers with a tighter budget and very clear stress on value will have the wherewithal to spread their largesse all around? Traditional media still has a lot to offer, if nothing else, its ability to hire talented people who are good at their jobs and know their subject.
That is the differentiation that will keep the best publications going for many more years. Of course, they have to adapt in order to survive, just as we have had to do and are doing. Fortunately, it isn’t a fight or flight situation. Organisations are increasingly facing this situation around the world, where they and their employees are having to learn new skills, retool and reorganise in order to meet the challenges of staying relevant.
And it doesn’t help at all that most of the change has to be brought about in an environment that is facing the fiercest ever attack of a negative sentiment. I ask you, when was the last time you heard someone upbeat about the economy in the past month? Methinks that has to change first – we’ve found new opportunity in the face of change and no doubt so will many others. The point is to look for the opportunity in the first place. You never know, the next management meeting that you are dreading may just be the place that it strikes for you.