Keith Brody Keith Brody Director - 5thPosition Ltd.

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Trade publishing is dead; HR shouldn’t be

  • Two thoughts.

    Trade journalism has eaten itself, or it will before too long if it doesn’t watch out.  Serious news and debate seems no longer to exist in the format.  These days, things have become so desperate that people are even taking advertorials seriously as a source of information.  Real, objective, old school news journalism’s day is over, apparently.

    This is a lamentable state of affairs that should worry us all, and though perhaps hastened by the apathy of second-rate editors it is at least in some part also due to the failure of industry to support credible publications, presumably because in today’s “me” world, the thought that a magazine might write something objective that wasn’t on message for a company meant it was a magazine that wasn’t worth advertising in.  For marketers, has it really come to this?  My way, or the highway.

    I remember submitting a story early in my career to an editor who promptly returned it to me with the admonition “we don’t publish anything that includes quotes from someone with the words ‘sales’ or ‘marketing’ in their job title.”  For obvious reasons.  That was the best, by any objective measure, magazine I ever wrote for, not least for having rules like that.  And it had credibility in its market, too.  People cared what was written because they knew the content had real value.  And teeth.

    Unless we all – and I mean collectively -- start caring about quality of information and real debate, self-generating social media (like, actually) will be the only “publications” worth tracking because their editorial independence will afford the best opportunity for the airing of the new, the exciting, and the relevant, with the freedom for open debate.   Trade magazines may eke out a couple more years of advertising revenues on the basis that they continue to sate the egos of the dominant few but eventually, they’ll fall by the wayside and die.  Stuff that has no real value always does.  And when they do, they’ll wonder why they never though it worth carrying the flag of editorial quality.

    Oh well, you get what you pay for.  Which in the case of the trade press is nothing at all.


    It is widely said that each and every one of a company’s employees is (or should be) the living embodiment of its brand.  Brands are the sum of a company’s parts, and the most important of those parts is its people.  If they’re not living, breathing, advocates – billboards, even, for the brand then who (or what) is?  There’s no better way to judge a company than via its people.  They’re what makes the biggest impression, right?

    And you don’t need to look far to see just how axiomatic that assertion is (if you doubt it, try finding the slob working in an Armani store or the man of integrity working for a political party – oops.  It doesn’t happen.  The point being that great brands are alive.)

    Which means that the marketing director’s best friend and closest ally ought to be his counterpart in human resources, right?  Well, most of the time chance would be a fine thing.

    If the marketing director creates the brand (in effect, designs the person the company collectively is) then the human resources director is, surely, the person who assembles the parts and brings it to life.  He or she takes marketing’s blueprint and hires against it.  No, this isn’t a land grab for marketers, but it does point to a relationship that is often ignored, and even more frequently seriously undervalued and misunderstood.


    Keith Brody
    About Keith Brody Keith Brody works as Director at 5thPosition Ltd.
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