Neil Thackray’s Business Media Blog

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Appointment of New PPA Chief Executive

The PPA is now engaged in the process of recruiting a new Chief Executive following the abrupt depature of Jonathan Shephard last month.  The PPA has a key opportunity to to raise the level of its game, to reinvent itself and become relevant again in the new media world.  My posts try and stay away from specific news events, but I make an exception in this case as I care about the PPA and I want it to be relevant to me in the future.

When I was at Nexus, for the first time in my professional life we were not members of the PPA.  I thought about joining but then wondered what would happen if I didn’t.  The answer was not much.  Perhaps most surprisingly nobody from the PPA ever called us to invite us to join.  This led to me think about what would persuade me to pick up the phone and join again on my own initiative.  Here are some of the things I thought;

1) Although periodical publishing remains part of what we do, I no longer feel defined by the concept of periodical publishing.  I would be much more likely to join an Association of Business Media Providers.

2) If the PPA, or whatever it becomes, is to survive it must get its membership marketing act together by giving all business media providers, large and small, print publishers and web only providers, good reasons to join the party.

3) Abandon the increasingly irrelevant PPA Awards and replace them with two events – one for consumer media and another for business media.  The categories have barely changed in twenty years (with the exception of adding a business website category).

4) Change the priorities for the PPA lobbying activity.  PPA did a great job over many years in negotiating and managing the relationship with the Royal Mail.  I have no doubt they still do.  In 2009 most of us we are as interested in the relationship with Google as as we are with the post office.

5) Decide defintively what the PPA is for and then pursue that goal with a passion. Lobbyist? Trainer? Networking faclilitator? Promoter of business media benefits to business media customers?  All of these?  None of these? One of these? Which are more important?  Here is the current list taken from the mission statement published by the PPA with my annotations in brackets

  • By engaging with Governments in the UK and Europe, to defend the legal, regulatory and commercial environment in which our members operate (Agree absolutely, but what are the key deliverables from this work?)
  • To help our members navigate the transition to the changing digital environment (What if I am in business media but don’t publish magazines.  Am I excluded? The goal assumes that transition is the right approach when it might not be.)
  • To provide up to the minute information, market knowledge, case studies, analysis and insight  (for whom? Publishers? Agencies?Readers?)
  • To promote magazines and their brands as the advertising medium of choice (But they are not.  . The emphasis on magazines implies that they are more important than other media deployed by media companies and increasingly they are not.  We know it, our readers know it, our advertisers know it, but our trade association appears not to)
  • To bring members together to share ideas, information and best practice (Nothing wrong with networking but apart from an annual conference what has actually been achieved here?)
  • To ensure that the industry continues to attract and develop talent. (Thats an impossible objective for the PPA but it can play a role in facilitating such an outcome. )
  • To deliver positive results for all parts of our diverse membership (meaningless)
  • To celebrate success and promote the health and image of our industry (our industry is in a crisis of strategy, profitability and confidence!)
  • In short too many goals, defined to widely.

    Sometimes the PPA appears to live in the same Village as Noddy.  The trees are lovely, the grass is green and we must never go into the dark wood.  Its time to face up to that fearand come and join the rest of us fighting  goblins.

    I am a believer in the PPA.  I want it to be relevant.  I hope the Board of the PPA use this opportunity to hire a CEO who has a clear and focussed plan for how to make to make it so.  To get that kind of vision and leadership it may need to pay more than it has ever done before.  If you think that person might be you, give Paul Farrer a call who is acting for the PPA in making the hire.

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    October 5, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized |

    1 Comment »

    1. I can’t understand why more people aren’t more angry about what is and has been going on at the PPA. Is it completely irrelevant to us all? Further irritation here: http://wp.me/Pd0sw-aN

      Comment by privatefraser | November 3, 2009


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