CEO Perspective: Ray Butkus
Ray Butkus, President/CEO
135 Chestnut Ridge Road
Montvale, NJ 07645
What will the print-media industry experience in 2010? Will this be a year of cost reduction or growth?
2009 was one of the most difficult yearâ€™s for publishers in the last half century. Loss of advertiserâ€™s and ad pages occurred at an unprecedented rate. While the macro-economy is showing promising signs of recovery, I doubt that 2010 will be a boom year for print publishing. Cost controls will continue to be tight but no business can cut its way to prosperity. It is clear to me that enlightened publishers will achieve organic growth. This will not be industry-wide, but will occur in pockets. In both consumer and trade publications the right combination of content and audience engagement will translate into subscription, advertising and lead generation revenue.
What one technology will be transformative?
The â€śkiller appâ€ť or killer techâ€ť for publishers is still not here. Some believe that it will take the form of a magazine-friendly Kindle or some other device. I think it is less about â€śone technologyâ€ť and more about exploiting technologies available on the market that strengthen audience interaction and content. The more engaged the audience is with content, the higher the probability that the content producer can make money from it. The social media, search and on-line gaming sectors provide strong evidence of that. In many cases, print publishers have lost that strong affinity that readers once held for their publication. This must be regained.
Will the Web be strategically central to the industry?
Without a doubt. It is almost like asking: â€świll printing be strategically central to the industryâ€ť. The Web is as much a distribution modality for publishers as paper. This will not lessen; it will accelerate. All publishers â€“ regardless of type or specialty - must build and strengthen web distribution and engagement strategies into their business models. The Web provides unparalleled ability not just distribute content but to track response, measure interest, provide interactivity and deepen engagement with the readers.
What skills do publishers need to succeed in this era?
The best skill set that one can bring to the publishing sector these days is the combination of entrepreneurial flexibility, adaptability and resiliency and Fortune 100 experience that brings the training, discipline and process management that will be required to get through this challenging times. Neither alone is sufficient, both are necessary. These must be combined with a familiarity with technology and comfort with the changes that its application can bring about.
Is this a great time to be an entrepreneur in this business or a terrible one? Why?
Itâ€™s a great time to approach the industry with entrepreneurial zeal. It is a terrible time to be a bureaucrat. To be an entrepreneurial implies taking risks, seizing initiative and managing uncertainty. All of these mean that the status quo cannot be accepted as a way of doing business. Old paradigms of circulation, marketing, editorial creation, advertising and sales are all breaking down. It means that the winners will be the ones who embrace change and exploit the potential of these exciting times in which we live.