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Mediacom Digest Examines Holmes Demise

09 August 2005

S L I P . S L I D I N G . A W A Y

Not with a bang.

The end, when it came, was mercifully short. Terminal ratings decline and an absence of credible alternative timeslots left Prime Television little choice but to cancel the Holmes show. The wonder, perhaps, was that it lasted as long as it did - especially with the usually unsentimental Nine Network picking up the tab.

It was, however, a brave experiment in a broadcasting environment that's usually risk-averse to the point of monotony - one that obviously struck a nerve with Mr Holmes' previous employers and unfortunately allowed Campbell Live to slip in under the radar and capture some of the viewers that Prime had hoped to co-opt.

The Little Network That Could has suffered most from this unfortunate endeavour - and not just because of the oh-so-public PR disaster or even the disproportionate investment required to support the Holmesian machine.

The launch of Holmes (and other scheduling changes) has coincided with declining audiences across the board at Prime. Between 2003 and 2004 average peaktime viewership by Prime's core 25-54 grew 24%. In 2005 we've seen monthly declines for the last five months:

* March down 11% year on year * April also down 11% * May down 18% * June down 15% * July down 18%

In the midst of this misery the Prime salesforce have been tasked with rolling out a 20% rate increase for the fourth quarter of the year, while its free-to-air competitors have restricted their ambition to 7%. It's a tough call and one unlikely to find favour with Prime's faithful advertisers.

It's time for a rethink. Holmes was the first change - but shouldn't be the last. Dare we suggest that such advice is, in the words of another Holmes of another time, "elementary my dear Watson"?

Spell Czech

Ten years ago, most workers didn't have an email address and didn't have to read email. Today, email is an essential work skill - and a recent survey from Information Mapping Inc. reports that 80% of today's office workers say email writing skills are "extremely" or "very important" to the effectiveness of doing their jobs.

Think of it as The Revenge Of The English Teacher. All those years splitting infinitives and dangling participles have now come back to haunt us. Consider the simplest of all email tasks - writing down the email address. If you don't get the address absolutely, totally, 100% correct you just won't get through to your dearly intended. Worse, you may be sending your message to another innocent party, potentially creating a massive security leak or leaving yourself open to a $200,000 fine for sending spam.

Perhaps that's why teens prefer Instant Messaging, which brings the illiteracy of text messaging to the desktop. According to "Teens and Technology," a report from the Pew Internet and American Life Project, the number of teenagers using the internet has grown by 24% in the past four years and that 87% of those between 12 and 17-years-old are online.

These teens see e-mail as a tool for "formal communications," such as corresponding with adults, teachers, schools and large groups. However, instant messaging is their favourite channel for everyday conversations with friends.

C'mon, parents, get those kids back on email. All that education has to kick in sometime.

Radio With Pictures

As we spiral downwards to September 17 and the much-awaited conclusion to the Electoral Wars, we inevitably have to suffer through interminable political posturing as party leaders strut their stuff in a series of debates. Our public broadcaster Radio New Zealand is no stranger to such sideshows but we've been traditionally spared the sights of leaders in full flight as RNZ broadcasts the sounds.

This year, alas, RNZ has partnered with Sky Television in a precedent-setting simulcast of two debates - next Friday, August 19, Prime Minister Helen Clark will lock swords with Opposition Leader Don Brash for a sixty minute stoush at 7pm, to be followed on Sunday afternoon by a ninety-minute bunfight between the leaders of the other main parties. The dirty laundry will be aired simultaneously on National Radio and Sky Digital's Channel 54, Sky News.

Contents may offend: we advise viewer discretion.

Killer Proposals Michael W. McLaughlin of Management Consulting News ( www.managementconsultingnews.com ) offers this advice to create killer proposals:

The business proposal is a necessary evil. A great proposal can be decisive in winning a project; a poor one can cause you to lose a project, even if everything else in the sales process has gone flawlessly. Use these guidelines to turn an ordinary doco into a killer proposal.

1. Create a powerful, but concise executive summary. 2. Focus on results, which matter more than methods and processes. Clients buy methods and approaches only when they know you can deliver results. 3. Be generous with your ideas; don't hoard them. Show clients how innovatively you think.

4. The length of the proposal doesn't win, but quality does. Projects are not awarded because proposals pass a weight test. 5. The proposal content must be about the client, not about you. Take a back seat and focus on how you will solve problems. 6. Your liberal use of "best practices" will label you as uncreative. Find the blend of outstanding practices and innovative solutions that fit your client's needs, not answers that worked for someone else.

7. Accuracy is essential. Validate all data and double-check to make sure it's right before you present it. 8. Sweat every small proposal detail, watch for typos, use high-quality materials and make sure the right people receive the proposal on time. 9. Rewrite your company credentials for every proposal. Highlight the skills in your credentials that demonstrate relevant qualifications. Your boilerplate credentials are rarely up to the task.

10. Let your proposal sit for a day and then reread it completely before sending it out. 11. Let your personality shine through your proposals. Give clients a sense of the firm and your style of working. 12. Don't let your proposal claims outdistance your true capabilities. Write an honest proposal or you'll pay dearly in the future with blown budgets and unhappy clients.

Doom, Gloom & Newsprint

Newspaper publishers must be getting heartily sick of pundits predicting paper pestilence by now. But here's another one: "the steep growth in advertising dollars spent online during the next five years will come directly from newspapers", according to a report from the Australian arm of PricewaterhouseCoopers.

The internet will remain Australia's fastest growing medium, doubling its share of the A$9.4 billion media advertising market from 4 per cent in 2004 to 8 per cent by 2009, when the local advertising industry will be worth A$12.5 billion, the PwC Australian Entertainment and Media Outlook predicts. However Newspapers' share will drop from 40 per cent to 36 per cent due mainly to the migration of classified advertising online, the report warns.

Such trends help to explain recent moves by global and local newspaper publishers to buy internet media and service companies, including last week's offer by News Limited to acquire the rest of Realestate.com.au and last month's purchase of dating site RSVP.com.au by rival publisher Fairfax.

Internationally newspapers recognise the threat to classified revenues from online auction sites such as eBay and free classified offerings like Craigslist.org. However, as Trade Me principal Sam Morgan observed, "the newspapers don't know what to do about us. We're all about turning a billion dollar industry into a ten million dollar industry."

Just as disintermediation has played merry havoc with travel agents and the like, it's a looming threat to newspapers as well. We're loathe to count them out - it's been tried before - but that economic model looks to be in for a shake-up before too long..

We Blog

There is, we're reliably informed, a new blog born every second. We've tinkered with the technology in the past but now we've finally abandoned our luddite behaviour - we've decided to add a blog to the range of communications flavours we use to share our opinions. For now, the blog will simply reproduce this newsletter, more or less faithfully. Moving forward, however, we may add some extra content to the blog - don't worry, we'll tell you when we do. For the record, the blog address is: http://mediacommarketingdigest.blogspot.com/

ENDS

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