Publishers, How Is Your Morale These Days?
In October, Campaign US released its annual advertising industry survey, which indicated that ad industry morale had dropped 36% from 2015. I was stunned by that revelation. Of all the parts of the media industry, it is the ad agencies that are doing by far the best in terms of revenue.
The report went on to show that 47% of [agency] industry employees rated their morale as either “low” (31%) or “dangerously low” (16%). For the top three factors contributing to their low morale, respondents overwhelmingly chose “company leadership” (73%) as the top answer. Second was “lack of advancement” (45%), and third was “dissatisfaction with work” (38%). The least-cited causes were “lack of diversity” (13%) and “company performance” (14%). Sixty-three percent of respondents with low morale said they were actively job hunting.
And that got me thinking, how is your morale these days? Do you relate to these agency feelings about morale? Are you energized by your position at a thriving company or do you have angst about both? Admittedly, we are still in the midst of a huge industry upheaval where some of us are riding the digital wave to new opportunities and some of us are forced to review and assess our careers and our companies. Of course, this boils down to whether you perceive the industry to be on a trend-line of ascendance or decline.
I have been bullish on the publishing industry for my entire career. That has been easy for me to say and feel, because luck was usually on my side. For the most part I was, by the quirks of fate, in the right place at the right time and acted as best I could with the changing times. Not everyone was or is so fortunate.
The longevity of any publishing career is and will for the foreseeable future be subject to radical changes from unexpected events. Joe Sexton of The New York Times recently said that there “ain’t no room for cowards in media at this moment in time,” and “if you are not asking yourself every couple of years how to once more scare yourself to death, then you are living something of the coward’s life.” Those are amazingly strong words and they seem to me to hold true for companies as well as individuals.
In these times of revenue-challenged media enterprises and careers in flux, we all need to start asking new questions. It is increasingly clear that it’s not what you once did for your company that matters, but rather what can you do now with the reputation and expertise you have. There is no coasting on any job anymore; rather, there must be a continuous personal reinvention. We all need to be prepared to continuously learn new skills, be aware and take advantage of new trends, and, perhaps the hardest of all, to adapt to the unforeseen circumstances that will always be ahead of us. The evolving systems and new technologies of communication and distribution are not going to slow down nor reach a plateau where we can catch our breaths. Are you prepared to think along these lines?
As I see it, many career people and publishing companies see the changing trends but do not act due to complacency, inertia, or, more coldly stated, the lack of the not-so-simple courage or expertise to change. This lack of action stems from professionals’ concerns of keeping a steady ship in the storm and a steady job in the tempest of a publishing revolution. Andrew Tribute once said in Printing Impressions magazine, “It is your future business that should replace your current business before someone else replaces it for you.” I have recently added in my talks a variation of Andrew’s observation. It goes like this: “The future you should replace the current you before someone else replaces you.”
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Bob Sacks (aka BoSacks) is a printing/publishing industry consultant and president of The Precision Media Group (BoSacks.com). He is also the co-founder of the research company Media-Ideas (Media-Ideas.net), and publisher and editor of a daily international e-newsletter, Heard on the Web. Sacks has held posts as director of manufacturing and distribution, senior sales manager (paper), chief of operations, pressman, circulator and almost every other job this industry has to offer.