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NMA axes jobs, abolishes print version – can it survive?

Posted by Danny Whatmough on 28th June 2011

UPDATE: Vikki Chowney, editor of Reputation Online has announced it is to close. See the blog post here.

rade publisher Centaur Media has announced a massive restructuring programme which will see job losses and the demise of the print versions of New Media Age (NMA) and Design Week. Those leaving includes NMA editor-in-chief Michael Nutley and publisher Andy Oakes. NMA will continue as an online only publication.

According to the Telegraph, Centaur turned over £59.9m in the year to June 30 2010 and reported a £2.7m operating profit with the cuts designed to increase profits by 11%.

We have a number of clients that operate in the digital marketing space and NMA is therefore a key publication for many of them. We also have many friends and contacts over at NMA and so it is tough to read the tweets going around today speaking of uncertainty over jobs and the future.

So where did it all go wrong?

NMA has a reputation as one of the leading publications in the digital marketing sector. It has built up a strong following and is regarded by many in the industry as the must-read, industry bible. And it has lots of good content and great writers.

The key question is whether it can sustain and reinvent itself for a digital only world. Experiments like Reputation Online show that it has already taken steps to try new things (UPDATE:see above announcement), but in a sector that is increasingly dominated by blogs and thought leaders on Twitter and Linkedin, does NMA, sitting behind a paywall, still have a place?

As Charlotte McEleny says below, investment in the digital version is vital. NMA has a big following and won’t lose this overnight, but it must work hard to keep what it does relevant.

Centaur CEO Geoff Wilmott says: “All the markets that we operate in continue to face huge challenges and changes. The initiatives that we will be announcing will help to ensure that Centaur is focussed and resourced in a way which bests suits the market challenges and opportunities facing us, and which therefore positions the business for the future…”

Many questions remain though. Will it stay behind a paywall? Will people/companies pay now the print title has gone? How will the conferences and training arm survive (and surely this is where the money is made)? What happens to Marketing Week (which survives in print, for now)?

Nail in the coffin for print

Perhaps the only clear conclusion is that print – especially in terms of trade titles – is now unsustainable. Media Week was first to go, then the Guardian tech supplement and now every national newspaper seems to be prioritising online.

It’s a sign of the times and you can be sure we’ll be staying up-to-date and advising all our clients on what it means for them. The fragmented media landscape is a challenge for traditional PR professionals, but it ushers in exciting new prospects too.

The full memo to staff can be read here.

Danny Whatmough