Wednesday, February 28, 2007

emap and restructuring for the future (Magazines 2010)

It's no secret to anyone checking my profile that I work for media company emap (and please note the following are simply the perceptions and views of an employee - not the official company line). So you'd be more than a little surprised if I didn't say a word or two about the 'restructuring' the company is widely reported to be going through - labelled Magazines 2010 internally.

Personally, I find it a very exciting time. For me this is the moment that a magazine publisher that did a bit of digital decided it was going to become a digital business, which also does magazine publishing.

It's a radical shift and one which all traditional media companies are going to have to go through. emap just happens to have been savvy enough and brave enough to do it first and to do it openly.

I don't want to reveal too much more at the moment (not that I'm privy to the whole picture) for business sensitive reasons - but I absolutely think we're on the right course with this - and I'm a digital immigrant so completely immersed I can teach the language to newer arrivals.
I expect the city (if it 'gets' it) to react very positively, too.

Even before this, one internationally renowned technology and media consultant told me: "I can say with complete confidence, from speaking with many senior managers in UK and international print media, that emap is way ahead of the curve. "

However, Magazines 2010 means human casualties - job losses and all the pain that is inevitably associated with that. And it's interesting that, even when we're trying to be honest, we continue to spin internally (and externally). We talk about restructuring rather than job cuts, we don't talk about numbers because we want to talk to those affected first - though we must have a target figure in mind. We have lessons to learn about internal engagement which we must crack if we are to crack external engagement (marketing) thoroughly.

We should remember this is about people, and people (read it over and over again on this blog and everywhere else) hate spin and respect honesty - even if it ain't what they wanted to hear.

No wonder then that those trying to report the 'facts' of this get it so wildly wrong.
Take this report on last night's Guardian Online for example. It focuses on emap's automotive business in Peterborough (oddly enough, where I'm based). It describes a central 'design factory' which will 'make' all the magazines.

Er, no. Not even close. There will be eight businesses across the Peterborough businesses (which, for the benefit of Guardian readers, also includes Active's titles). Each will have its own publishing team - which will include designers - but also many other multi-skilled staff who will be trained to deliver across platforms. And that's a publishing team per new business. Indeed the motorcycling business (in which emap is dominant) will have two publishing teams - one for weekly print publication and major website MCN and one for the rest of the motorcycle business.

It also missed the fact that meetings on the outcome of 2010 were taking place across Emap Consumer Media yesterday - not just in Peterborough.

It's also not just about production of magazines, this a far deeper restructing involving editorial, advertising and marketing.

The Guardian does a great job online but this case reveals how inaccurate/off the pace they (and let's be fair - many other news agencies) must be on a hour-by-hour basis. You realise this most graphically when you know the facts of the story intimately yourself.

It's another great example of why 2-way flow is so important, where being able to display your user's corrections and comments alongside their 'expert view' may have more value for all parties.

AND YOU can correct, challenge, rubbish or even support anything I've written above, by clicking comments below - and you can do it anonymously if you prefer.

The rate of change is so rapid it's difficult for one person to keep up to speed. Let's pool our thoughts, share our reactions and, who knows, even reach some shared conclusions worth arriving at?