Too often at publishing summits, CEOs give vague overviews of their companies and some blandly inspirational messages about how to emulate that company’s success. The phrase “Don’t be afraid to…” is never more than five seconds away and may in fact be on every single slide during the presentation.
So it was refreshing to hear James Tye, Dennis Publishing’s chief executive, explicity tell the audience at Monetising Media last week that they need to be greedy, that wishful thinking won’t save a publishing strategy and that received wisdom is often flat-out wrong.
Dennis Publishing (which won media company of the year and print launch of the year at this year’s British Media Awards) is among two magazine companies in the UK to be achieving significant growth, according to Tye, which he ascribes to the publisher’s relentless focus on growth. As he said, if you’re not growing, you’re being consumed:
“For us, profitability underpins everything.“
A Donkey Kong approach to publishing
He began his discussion of Dennis’ philosophy with an extended video game metaphor, which delighted our senior reporter. He said:
“[Pac-Man] is probably how Facebook sees the media industry, as a series of dots to be gobbled up. It’s all about scale, going around, grabbing as much stuff as possible. There’s always the potential of hitting a dead end… and everything speeds up as you go along, as the competition increases. There’s plenty of people seeing media like that. It’s all about scale, about investment, about grabbing as much as possible.
As a result, Dennis has oriented its business not round brands’ relationships with platforms as many other publishers have done, but rather round the business’ four main areas of publishing – current affairs, motoring, technology and active leisure.