• Media mergers are a bad sign

    Media mergers are a bad sign

    The merger between Fairfax and the Nine Network has been making headlines recently — even if mostly across their own pages and programs. A lot of questions have been asked about this move, in particular, how it will impact the quality and bias of the journalism being produced by, in particular, Fairfax into the future, considering the inevitable corporate influences and conflicts of interest.

    It seems to be a move driven more by survival than by a decision to improve the quality of content by either company, but one particular argument made by the Nine Network for the move is that it has been driven by a need to battle and win back some of the advertising dollars already lost to Facebook and Google.

    This is a fair argument on the surface — it’s pretty clear a lot of Aussie dollars have gone there — but the problem with it is the implication that news and media has been, or even can be, a platform that offers comparable opportunity for advertisers of all kinds.

    Media advertising traditionally has not been a fair and equitable space. The cost barriers to entry has meant that only the big players, the companies with advertising and marketing budgets in the millions of dollars could play there, giving small and medium-sized businesses very few marketing avenues with which to promote their businesses.

    Google and Facebook changed that. The barrier to entry into the Facebook and Google spaces, although increasing in price, have been outrageously more equitable. Early adopters have been able to gain valuable eyeballs and attention, in some instances, for zero cost outlay. That has since changed to some degree, but the value there is still astronomically more reasonable than advertising on TV for example. The other thing is people are spending their recreational time online, when they were once spending this time watching TV and reading papers.

    And this shift in attention is only increasing.

    The real scramble for traditional media companies is to hang on to their big clients and keep them believing in the value of the traditional media outlets. And the merger adds value to that offering. But by the same token, it waters down the ad space as well. If Mercedes was once paying for ad space on TV, on radio and in the metro dailies, and this merger now enables them to hit all three of those targets at a discounted rate, with revenue split across the different platforms, then in the long run, it’s hard to see how the haemorrhage will be stemmed.

    Really, the only way to really protect those dollars is to protect those audiences tuning in, logging in or switching on. And the only way to do that is through innovating the user experience and by creating exciting programming that people want to watch that can’t be found anywhere else. The problem there is that people are doing that (innovating and making programming) pretty cheaply, and offering that content for free. And all the ad money for that is going offshore.

    There’s no better example of that than the documentary I made called Fat and Back. We sold it into more than 20 countries around the world. It played once on Channel One in Australia, one of the last countries to buy it and run it (thanks for the support guys).

    Currently it’s on YouTube where in the next couple of weeks it will pass 2 million views. Someone’s benefiting from those eyeballs. It’s not me and it’s not an Australian broadcaster.

    If you need help in the digital space, get in touch with us today.

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  • Five years of Hook

    Five years of Hook

    As a handful of congratulatory LinkedIn messages came my way in the last week — thanks to those who sent them — it was time to acknowledge that Hook Media had just turned five.

    They say that if you make it to two years running your own business, you’re set. We’ve made it to five and I still don’t feel comfortable. But I guess as long as we get to six, seven and so on — and I am very confident of that — it doesn’t really matter how I feel. You’ve made it as long as you keep going.

    To be perfectly honest, my vision for what Hook was going to look like in the future was always flexible, partly because the industry is changing so much, partly because people’s needs for the types of services we offer is changing a lot, and also partly because I didn’t know if where we were heading was what I really set out to achieve, for the business and myself in the early going.

    I wanted to remain open to all possibilities, for the sake of the business and for me. That has been a good and bad thing. It’s good because being open-minded has meant that we have moved into areas I didn’t expect and those have been really beneficial experiences. It’s been bad because I’ve really struggled with a sense of identity and a sense of who we really are.

    The focus has certainly narrowed in the past 12 months. We’ve done a rebrand in that time, courtesy of my great friend Peter Trigar at CC&Co. That has helped me with that process quite a lot, and has served as a springboard into new territories and new strategies.

    With this change, I’ve realised that the essence of what we do has always remained solid — we do content that is meant to be seen and consumed. How we package that is what has been the important component for business growth.

    In 2018, the types and variety of content that people want is different, and the ways that stories are being told is different and that’s been a massive adjustment, to both the day-to-day and also my career objectives. I remember chewing the ear off the then Managing Director of Fremantle Media years ago at a lunch and he said that there’ll always be a need for content. If you’re making it, you’ll have a future. If you’re selling it, or distributing it, your future is not as certain. We kinda do both, thus is the challenge.

    Working out the kinds of content that people want to consume and also how to turn that into an earning when people expect to be entertained and informed for free, has always been something that has weighed on my mind.

    These are challenges we’ll continue to figure out as we grow as a business and a big part of that is listening to what our clients are telling us, listening to what the audiences are telling us, but also using our story-telling experience and ever-developing skills to take risks.

    Currently, Hook Media is a four-person strong team of myself, Jeremy Manson, Andrew Darrington and Daniel Hedger. We each bring something unique to the table and we’re doing great work. I’d like to see that team grow in the very near future, but I want to thank those guys on being an integral part of our recent growth.

    There have been other names who have done great work for us in the past — such as Brooke Giacomin, Sean O’Kane and Nick Barber — people whose work still makes appearances in examples and proposals to this day.

    We’ve made many great working relationships over a long time, who are major reasons why we’re still in business. People like Christian Gamble, Richard Turner and Andrew Funke have seen value in what we do and have been and continue to be strong supporters of Hook over the years.

    There are those who we’ve worked with that have enabled us to merge business and common interests and passions, and they have either been or continue to be great supporters of our work, and there have been some who have served also as the lighters of under-arse fires, such as Shane Howard from CCR.

    Some of the great highlights include following Dante Exum around with a camera for Bleacher Report, heading over to my first Mr Olympia with Josh Lenartowicz and producing what I think is a great little web series, shooting some incredible action at the many Warrior’s Way muay thai events for Mark Castagnini, managing livestream basketball events with Luke Sunderland and giving young basketballers a shot at their US College dreams (I’ll never forget the moment a kid was pulled from the court and offered a scholarship on the spot over the phone), the countless bodybuilding shoots with Nick Jones and the Gen-Tec Nutrition team, publishing Muscular Development and getting back into print, albeit briefly, and stepping on the golf course with Damian Shutie and working collaboratively with a genuine media talent.

    I also want to make a special mention of the involvement and work of my former business partner and friend Ryan Mobilia. His career has gone from strength-to-strength in the last two years. He’s a leader in this space and the three years he spent at Hook helped to form the foundations upon which we stand.

    I feel like we’re just getting started in many ways and although I do want to feel like we have ‘made it’ at some point, I never want to feel complacent. Innovation is certainly a buzz word, but if we’re always thinking in that way — of chasing the change — then our work will always feel new. There is so much opportunity out there for what we do, and we’re going to keep finding it.

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  • A second set of eyes: Even the stars of business and social media need good copy

    A second set of eyes: Even the stars of business and social media need good copy

    Typos, misspellings, poor wording, badly phrased ideas: all of them are coming from the social accounts of brands, business personalities and other people who want your money.

    Have you ever noticed how much bad copy is around on the internet?

    This idea is never far from my mind but it hit me anew as I was reading the sample chapter of a book I had been anticipating. The author is a well-known commentator on innovation and technology who has a popular and engaging social media presence, so I was excited to see how he came across in long-form.

    However, as I started to read it, I got a sinking feeling. Although the interesting ideas I was expecting were there, the prose…was static. Like someone had transcribed it from a speech. As any good journalist knows, speech is a fickle thing: sometimes the transcription can make a person sound foolish when in fact he is an erudite and articulate speaker. Written communication is a different beast.

    Then I encountered a typo. Then another. A misplaced inverted comma. A double spacing.

    Small things, really, but something that can and should be easily fixed.

    (I am very aware that I’m setting myself up for ridicule should this article itself have any of the above. Such is life.)

    In fact, what the sample chapter most looked like to me was a pitch document. ‘This chapter is where I’ll do this’ and ‘from there I’ll move into that’. There was no finesse, no building of arguments.

    I then noticed that some basic, checkable facts were wrong.

    Next came a laboured, extended metaphor. Then a mixed metaphor within that first one. And it just kept going. At least put some self-effacing references to the fact that your metaphor is cumbersome! That might at least buy some time from your readers before they give up.

    I thought to myself, “Surely somebody should have picked up on this when it was being edited”.

    If I didn’t know any better I’d think this business guru had gone the self-publishing route. Maybe he dealt with a publisher who exercised no editorial oversight. What might have been a fun, insightful read became a slog because of something relatively basic: communication skills.

    Bad communication is everywhere

    But these kinds of communication errors are everywhere and often from the leaders in their respective fields.

    I remember being similarly disheartened when I followed some of the ‘sharks’ from the TV show Shark Tank and saw how poor some of their writing skills are. Sure, that’s not what they’re best at — they’re business experts after all, not copywriters — but for a crop of people constantly telling people to always be at your best and work hard, some have had trouble grasping the basics.

    In my previous role as a magazine editor, I would often encounter a similar habit in fitness professionals. These Adonises would post on social media admonishing others for not working hard enough and just ‘hardening up’, ‘put it in the work’ and getting things done. But ask them to fill out a questionnaire, tee up a phone interview or write an article and suddenly they had ‘no time’.

    So, sometimes ‘hard work’ is really just a matter of prioritising what’s important to a person.

    This is all fine! But it might be time to bring in the experts if you need some professional communication.

    Good communication skills are important

    When you’re in the business of communication, bad or incorrect copy shows up everywhere.

    I recently received an email from SBSOnDemand: ‘The Handmaiden’s are back’ (sic) said its subject line. How did this slip through?

    You begin to appreciate how special good communication skills actually are. We should all learn them from a young age but with recent news that one of the world’s leading education experts thinks the NAPLAN is teaching kids to be poor writers, it doesn’t look to be changing any time soon.

    Business gurus talk a big game. Gary Vee can say you should just get your product out there, no matter how rough around the edges it is. And maybe that’s true — as long as your business isn’t professional communication.

    ‘Just do it’ is all well and good when what you’ve just done isn’t your core business. But for us media professionals, journalists and copywriters, it’s the equivalent of Gary Vee shipping off wine in a plastic bottle.

    If your business is communication, you better make damn sure you know how to communicate.

    We can help

    One thing we offer at Hook Media is a copywriting and editing service, be it subbing your e-book, creating copy for your website or helping you create your own branded publication. With experienced journalists on our team, we’re ideally placed to help our clients make sure they are always communicating well.

    After all, first impressions matter. Your brand might only get one chance to make sure it looks professional. That could be the difference between getting a customer and not.

    And for those gurus posting all manner of bad copy on their LinkedIn accounts, if you do ever get self-conscious about it, give us a call. We just might be able to help.

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