“Newspapers Will Still Be Printed in 2030”: News Corp CMO Tony Phillips

Tony Phillips - Chief Marketing Officer Metro and Regional Publishing News Corp Australia. Picture: John Fotiadis
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As the presenting partner for B&T’s inaugural Towards 2030 Forum, we thought it would be a great idea to chat to News Corp (specifically, CMO Tony Phillips) about why it decided to support the event, and what the future holds for the media industry.

Why did News Corp decide to sponsor B&T’s Towards 2030 Forum?

News Corp has always been big supporters of the 30 Under 30 competition – both internally and for the industry as a whole. The Towards 2030 platform allows us to go further with our involvement, integrate more of our team in the initiative and take an active role in supporting young people in media.

What does an event like Towards 2030 mean for the industries involved?

There are unique challenges for under-30s in the media, and similarly, there are challenges for those who employ people under 30. Therefore, the balance between keeping this group motivated and presented with growth opportunities needs to be balanced with hard work, experience and the importance of setting the foundations for a long and successful career.

Towards 2030 offers an opportunity for some of our most experienced media CEOs, CMOs and agency founders to share their experiences and learnings with some of our upcoming best and brightest. There are very few platforms available at present who are offering this.

Is a media career still attractive to young people? Are we losing our best minds to tech businesses?

I think over the past few years, generalisations have been made about people under 30, and the reality is that, yes, some young people will go on to be successful tech entrepreneurs or work solely in digital sectors. At the same time, others will go on to have successful media careers and have a sound understanding of media as a whole, rather than a single-focused view on digital media or tech as the answer to everything. There is no standard rule here.

Similarly, a recent industry survey indicated that more than 50 per cent of staff have less than five years’ experience in the industry. This tells us that they’re also likely to be under 30. It’s safe to say we aren’t losing them.

From News Corps’ perspective, how equipped are graduates these days to handle the ever-changing, disrupted media landscape?

A good graduate understands the importance of having an open mind, seeking new solutions with a customer-first approach. This has probably always been the case.

The challenge is not to confuse media platforms with customer experience. Understand motivation, use and engagement with the customer, and you are well on your way.

What more do you think could be done by the colleges and universities in terms of training people contemplating a career in media?  

From what I see, there is too much focus on the channel, not the customer. Channels change, but stimulating a mind to innovate and develop ideas that engage an audience will differentiate a career.

Media’s traditionally been quite a cut-throat industry, it can be very “sink or swim” environment for young people? Would you agree that’s still the case? That the ‘loudest’ argument often wins and not necessarily the best one?

I don’t think the media industry is any more cut-throat than other professional services businesses. If that was ever true, I think those days are behind us. My experience is the best idea wins, not the loudest voice.

It’s common knowledge that media has an equal gender split when it comes to the under-30s. However, when babies and families arrive, it changes the balance and women miss out on the senior roles. What more can be done to correct the imbalance?

This assumes there is an imbalance. At News Corp, the executive leadership team is 40 per cent women, with at least 50 per cent in management roles reporting to the directors. My experience in agency and client is that the media industry has one of the best gender splits, regardless of age.

Agencies are increasingly hiring from an eclectic field – data analysts, psychologists, film makers, strategists, content marketers, etc. Is that what the media businesses of the future will look like?

Anyone with passion, ideas and discipline will succeed. The talent pool has broadened.

What’s your big, bold prediction(s) for what Australia’s media landscape will look like in 2030? Who’ll thrive and who won’t survive?

There will be more amalgamation depending upon government regulation to maintain a quality resource delivered at scale.

Facebook and Google will be only part of the digital landscape as new technology delivers more innovation from people who grew up with these disciplines.

Newspapers will still be printed, people will still be watching TV, and people will still sit at restaurants on their phones not talking to each other.

Fragmentation of audience will be the norm and amalgamating an audience to build brands will be an even bigger challenge, ensuring a bright future for creative marketers.

If you’re still a bit vague in knowing what the Towards 2030 Forum is all about, we’ve explained it in more detail and pre-empted some of your FAQs here.

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