The ICON Melbourne Forum kicked off with a great talk from Joanne Gray, Managing Editor of The Australian Financial Review (AFR). She shared her insights into how the media industry has changed since the introduction of the internet and how Fairfax Media has adapted. She also discussed how businesses should build a relationship with journalists.
In 2012, as print circulation started to decline, there were cuts to newsrooms and a genuine fear that newspapers would become redundant. Instead, newspapers such as the AFR innovated and refocused their revenue models towards online advertising and subscriptions. “Thank God we’re no longer talking about the imminent death of newspapers,” Gray told ICON members.
She suggested that, in the age of digital disruption, companies should focus on their reputations and the trust they hold with their clients. This was particularly the case in the era of ‘fake news’, which has disrupted the media industry and seen many consumers develop a fear of being misinformed. In fact, Gray said 67 percent of people believe fake news will be used against them.
“You have to start making it clear what your differentiation is,” she said. “The Australian Financial Review will never write for click bait.”
“ Remember, to be interesting you have to have a point of view. Journalists are not there to make you look good, but your perspective can make them look good, ” said Gray.
Gray also discussed how important it is for companies and professional firms to form good working relationships with the media and journalists. She said that if there is a major problem in a business or a potential media scandal, having a well-established relationship with the media can benefit the organisation tremendously. For instance, they can get their side of the story out early.
While it can seem hard to get to know journalists, Gray advised that “it’s just like any other business meeting, built on human connection”. She added that relationships can also be established through informal, off-the-record catch ups. The golden rule, though, is to be worth talking to.
“Remember, to be interesting you have to have a point of view. Journalists are not there to make you look good, but your perspective can make them look good,” said Gray.