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?
was one of the most difficult year’s for publishers in the last half
century. Loss of advertiser’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?
“killer app” or killer tech” 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 “one technology” 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?
a doubt. It is almost like asking: “will printing be strategically
central to the industry”. The Web is as much a distribution modality
for publishers as paper. This will not lessen; it will accelerate. All
publishers – 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?
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?
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.