I was watching BBC World News last night, as you do (I find myself reading/watching less and less local media), when I was greeted by an ad for the AFR. It was one of those cartoon/graphic ads with no humans, and the message was something along the lines of: “Nobody joins the dots like the AFR” (spoken with one of those universal, English-accents).
As a potential AFR reader, I started thinking about how the new leadership team might do better. This ad did not impress me: any serious reader of financial news is not going to be swayed by a cartoon telling them that one particular publication joins dots better than others. So I thought, what would work?
Here's my suggestion to the AFR's new boss, Brett Clegg (and Greg Hywood): run ads featuring your own talent (journos) talking about how they broke critical news stories in the past. Highlight your big 'exclusives'. Remind the audience how the AFR has previously added a lot of value to their working lives with tangible, real-world insight and analysis.
I had in mind a picture of Colleen Ryan talking about how she had hunted down some story on China, was thwarted along the way by the authorities, but eventually was able to get it out there into the ether. Or some other journalist who broke a story that was highly price sensitive.
If you started pummelling people with all these reminders of how the AFR is essential reading in order to stay at the vanguard of financial news, I suspect they might be more inclined to pick it up again.
Now one risk is that the featured journos jump ship to a rival news organisation. Sure, that's a risk. But to make any money in business, you have to take risk. If you eliminate all risk, you eliminate all returns. Use your own talent to rebuild your brand.
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