Not just any old textbook
A new media-planning textbook was recently launched to great acclaim in the industry. PETA KROST MAUNDER finds out what makes it different.
The very image that the term ‘textbook’ conjures in most of our imaginations is dull and boring – a book one has to read to pass but not enjoy. Textbooks are not known for personality or inspiration. They are all about studying and passing exams.
Well, the latest Advertising Media Association of South Africa (AMASA) textbook, called The nuts ’n bolts of media planning – a comprehensive industry guide is not your average textbook. But then not many textbooks I know are written by the icons in the industry of which you are aspiring to be a part. Also, this particular industry has serious maverick and eccentric folk at its helm.
So, their thinking and writing is inspiring and should entice youngsters into this industry. This would be a relief because, as all these icons will tell you, the media industry is desperate for real talent and passion coming in on the ground level. As CEO of the MEC Group, Michelle Meyjes, says: “Without a large injection of great talent, this industry will not survive.”
AMASA chairman, Brad Aigner, explains: “In this fast-moving world, the pace of media has never been quicker. Technology has brought us more ways of connecting with people through new and traditional channels. Consumers are expert ‘spam-avoiders’. So, media planners have to become savvy too. Their challenge now is not just to know which media to choose, but also to know which media not to choose.”
So, against this backdrop, AMASA has brought out this new textbook.
How wrong can you go when the experts in each field tell you how it is done and what you should be thinking about? You have Starcom MediaVest’s inimitable Group MD Gordon Patterson starting off with survival tips, the evolution and role of media planning and the fundamentals in developing a media strategy.
When tackling media research, none other than the doyenne in this field, Barbara Cooke, takes you through the processes, looking at what research is out there and how to
In fact, going through the author team is much like a who’s who in this industry. Few understand newspaper advertising quite like Linda Gibson, CEO of Ads24 and as for television, Brenda Wortley, who heads up research and strategy for DStv Media Sales, has to be the best person for this task. Then there is Vizeum’s Tanya Schreuder and The MediaShop’s Virginia Hollis writing about their expertise.
This is a change in strategy from the previous AMASA textbooks that had one author covering all. And although the 2005 edition that was written by media guru Gordon Muller was the media bible for many years, for obvious reasons, there is a definite wisdom in using the combined knowledge and skill of so many brilliant minds. Also, while I know that independent media consultant Luisa Belter – who edited the book and co-ordinated the whole project – had sleepless nights and much stress in getting the information from its various authors, it will clearly pay off.
As Muller explains in the foreword, while the global media industry has changed enormously in five years, the challenges facing the media industry have not. In fact, he quotes former AMASA chairman Frank Muller speaking at an AMASA conference in 1977 as saying: “I think we are going to have to do something urgent about training young people to become media planners… I’d like to see media planners trained, not just as figure boffins, but trained to understand that they are part of marketing.”
Muller goes on to say: “If we are to continue as a viable industry on the global stage, we need not only match the very best that the world has to offer, but to demonstrate that when it comes to investing in advertising funds in South Africa and Africa, there is no viable substitute for consulting professional media planners and strategists here in Mzansi (South Africa).”
He is also right in saying that a great textbook is just one part of the massive commitment needed to source and train media talent from all walks of society, commerce and academia as a part of an integrated marketing and communications industry initiative.
As Meyjes says, in Europe and the US, youngsters are “banging down the doors of media agencies” to take up positions. This is not like this here. “There they market this industry well as a career and it works,” she says. “People clamber for jobs in this industry because it is considered such a great career. We need to do the same.”
This story was first published in The Media magazine.