Media monoliths

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Media monoliths

by Mark Tungate

Kogan Page © 2004, 261 pages, $39.95 (ISBN 0-7494-4108-9).

How Great Media Brands Thrive and Survive

Not every media outlet survives the changing rigors of the marketplace to build an enduring brand that creates instant recognition and continues to grow and prosper. Very few, in fact, have been able to endure like the 20 newspapers, magazines and broadcasters on which journalist and media specialist Mark Tungate focuses throughout Media Monoliths. To provide readers with the secrets of their success and offer rare insight into the evolving world of media powerhouses, Tungate takes a detailed look behind the scenes of the elite group of brands that have thrived for decades, and sometimes centuries, as media giants.

Tungate explains that he wrote Media Monoliths to find out why we remain loyal to certain newspapers and magazines, why we turn to only a few television stations when we have a choice of hundreds, and how this elite group of media brands survived when so many others have expired. Through extensive research, he has discovered that CNN, for example, survives because it chose the right vehicles to reach its target audience of affluent professionals, and Time’s highly educated staff creates a leadership brand by making preserving and extending the brand their job.

Longevity and Power

Having conducted numerous interviews with the executives and editors who have brought success to such household names as MTV, CNN, The Wall Street Journal, and Playboy, Tungate probes the longevity, power and brand recognition that have allowed these brands to dominate the global media landscape. By describing how they began and what they have done over the years to bolster their grasp of their audience’s attention, he provides readers with histories, anecdotes and interviews that reveal the formulas of how they sell their products as well as stand out amid the cacophonous bazaar of thousands of media outlets.

Media Monoliths begins with a section that highlights three of the most enduring broadcasters to ever become cultural phenomena: CNN International, BBC World, and MTV. A second section highlights nine influential newspapers from around the world, including The Times, Financial Times, El País, and Libération. The third section looks at the people and personalities that made six magazines, such as Vogue, Paris Match, National Geographic and Time, stalwart dominators in their fields. A final section points to Reuters and Bloomberg as two information providers that have also become media monoliths over the years.

Tungate concludes Media Monoliths with a few keys to creating one, including:

• Have a vision. Teamwork had nothing to do with the creation of most media monoliths. More often than not, a single individual created them, as well as put in place the values that still drive them today. These personalities had the spark of an idea and took it through to its logical conclusion.

• Pick a target. Few media monoliths are aimed at everyone. The creators of great media brands had very specific targets in mind.

• Create a club. Once you know who is in your audience, make them feel part of your project. Almost every editor Tungate interviewed felt that readers did not purchase their products as mere sources of information, but as lifestyle statements.

• Go wide — yet narrow. International status helps to create media monoliths, which means at least getting your newspaper or magazine on selected newsstands around the globe. It is more beneficial to have print sites in every corner of the world. Having foreign-language editions is even better.

Be Flexible

• Be flexible — and be quick about it. Mike Bloomberg realized quicker than others that a brand limited to a single medium was at a disadvantage in a world where audiences synthesized information from a rapidly widening pool of sources. The Wall Street Journal was one of the quickest to embrace the Internet, charging a subscription fee for almost as soon as it had the site up on the Web. Others, who were slower to catch on, are now desperate to become cross-media brands.

• Maintain quality. Customers feel comfortable accessing their preferred brands through a variety of media, as long as the quality is consistent. Don’t cut corners and undermine your reputation and your audience’s trust. Consistently delivering high quality protects your brand.

• Stay relevant. There is danger in complacency. If you revamp yourself to pull in young readers, make sure you deliver what returning audiences expect, but in a way that is fresh and surprising. ~

Why We Like This Book

Media Monoliths provides a comprehensive array of interesting insights about the media giants that dominate the media landscape, presenting the missions, people and goals of businesses that wield great influence around the world. By focusing on their common factors as well as their unique spins on branding philosophy, Tungate offers a generous helping of food for thought about the value of openness and trust in the marketplace. ~

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