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In the beginning of the year we wrote an update and spoke about all the issues facing the print industry. Like the slow GDP growth forecast, petrol price hikes and the ripple effect these have on consumers’ disposable income due to the increases. Result? Less cash in hand for the consumer! Cut-backs in spending, lower newspaper sales….


We said the compound effect of all the above would make for another tough year in the printing game. Six months later, looking at the still declining circulation figures, the print industry remains under huge pressure. Added to this, the economy is in for tough times for the foreseeable future with the IMF slashing South Africa’s GDP growth figures down to 2% and the imminent wage negotiation season with the Chamber of Mines offering 5% and unions demanding between 60% and 150%.


This said, it is not all doom and gloom for the print industry even with the declining year-on-year picture. The quarter-by-quarter details do seem to suggest a slowdown in declining circulations. Plus encouragingly, the number of ABC members has actually increased from 863 to 876. In the first two quarters of the year we have had 37 new members and 24 members leaving, thus a total growth of 13 new members from a previously static membership growth pattern in Quarter 4 of 2012.


But don’t get too excited! The following information looks at trended data from 1997 to 2013 and shows how much the print landscape has changed.


Firstly, the adult population of 15+ has increased by 36% over this period which is a story in itself. But, the reality is that although there are more titles and people are spoilt for choice, the number of the available audience is not a factor on the declining circulation as there’s an audience.


If we look at daily papers, they had a peak combined circulation in 2007 with 1 692 010 copies, which is down 29% in 2013 to 1 198 852.


Weekend papers paint a similar picture, with peak circulation in 2007 at 2 409 552 down 18% to 1 979 585 in 2013.


If we look at papers by language, Afrikaans daily papers have gone from 243 915 in 1997 to 149 062 in 2013, a 39% decrease. The English market’s daily papers have declined by 41%, from 717 305 in 1997 to 423 661 in 2013.


The combination of the Daily Sun, Isolezwe, Sowetan and the Son had a total circulation of 225 987 in 1997. This increased by 276%, to a peak in 2009, with a combined circulation of 850 556. However, this has now declined by 26% to 626 129 in 2013.


Afrikaans weekly titles are down 34%, from circulation highs of 619 755 in 1997 , to 409 571 in 2013. Similarly, English weekly titles are down 28% , to 846 647 in 2013.


A combination of Sunday World, Sunday Sun, the Isolewe and Illanga titles, and City Press and Son op Sondag are up 179%, from 251 213 in 1997 to 723 367 in 2013.


Total daily and weekend circulations, from 1997 to 2013, are down 23% while total community papers are up 106% over the same period. Even sold community papers are up 103% over the same period.


Tells you something about the future of newspapers, doesn’t it?

The new Digital Media and Marketing Association (DMMA) Board, as elected by its members, was announced at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) last Thursday. A revised constitution that incorporated several fundamental changes was also accepted by unanimous member vote.


Nikki Cockcroft, former Chair and Executive Director who announced earlier this year that she would be stepping down from the DMMA, gave her closing address at the AGM: “The DMMA began as a small body for a developing industry. It has played an integral role in growing the South African digital landscape and we have seen the industry’s massive expansion over the last ten years.


“In order for the DMMA to continue to play a critical role in supporting and growing this industry, our constitution needed to be revisited and revised – with the support and approval of our members. Like the digital industry, the DMMA too has grown - revealed by the healthy cash flow-positive status of this year’s financials. It was vital for our structure and constitution to reflect this maturation.”


The new constitution incorporates a two-tier structure. An elected Board that has an absolute mandate from the membership, and ultimate fiscal and fiduciary responsibility in terms of Section 21 law; and an appointed Steering Committee (Steerco), selected by the Board, who will handle the day to-day work of the organisation. Overlaps between these two structures are permitted on the basis that a Steerco member either delivers on their projects or is replaced.


The Board elected is as follows:

  • Chair: Jarred Cinman (Native)
  • Vice Chair: Gustav Goosen  (The Space Station)
  • Online Publisher Representative: Tim Spira (ENCA)
  • Agency Representative: Fred Roed (WorldWideCreative)
  • Treasurer: Andrew Allison (Quirk)


Click here to see the changes to the constitution and the rationale behind each change.


The DMMA announced that it was also in the process of applying for Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) membership, which – if granted – could involve the DMMA changing its name to IAB South Africa. The final decision on this will be taken within the next six months.


“By aligning ourselves with this internationally recognised and accredited body, we increase the stature of our organisation, to the benefit of our members, explains elected Chair Jarred Cinman.


“The DMMA has made a lot of progress this year. We have conducted extensive research that revealed a far larger internet population size than previously expected; we have made great inroads in terms of integrating our audience data into Telmar, and we have strengthened our ties with the Loeries and Creative Circle. We have also re-engaged our members through a number of projects and initiatives. One of these included hosting a ‘How to take Home a Trophy Workshop’, which was extremely well received by our members and the industry as a whole.


“Our intention behind appointing a Steerco was to establish a dedicated team that were committed to their roles – bearing in mind that the position is voluntary (all of our portfolio heads have ‘day jobs’) and requires a minimum of eight to ten hours a week. I think the progress we have made this year is testament to the Steerco’s hard work and dedication.


“I am confident that the new Board and Steering Committee are completely dedicated to serving the interests of our member base. Our goal, as a non-profit organisation, has always been to grow, support and sustain a vibrant and profitable South African digital industry, and we will continue to work hard to achieve this,” Cinman concludes.

Richard Branson said that “A business has to be involving, it has to be fun, and it has to exercise your creative instincts.” As we celebrate 10 years of providing integrated marketing and communications, I think Richard is right.  We are owner managed and run, small and agile and totally involved, we love what we do and have immense amounts of fun. We pride ourselves on our creative instincts and abilities, traits that not only define Watt Communications, but also are the very reason for our success.


watt comm logoTen-year anniversaries are commemorated in many ways and we chose a tin. For a start, tin is durable, agile and resilient - characteristics needed to prosper and create longevity in any business.  It is also deceptive in that it is not always about appearance. It is what is inside that ultimately counts and as a small, below-the-radar agency, our broad-based skill cannot be underestimated.


Everybody’s tin holds his or her own set of memories. Too often we forget to stop and consider where we are and how we got there, especially in business.


In my tin is a story about people.  Creative, fun, talented, smart, quirky, hardworking and dedicated individuals. Clients who have been with Watt Communications from the start and media whose unwavering support have contributed to our success.  Also in my tin is the fact that 80% of all small businesses don’t make it past the first year and 50% fail within the first five years.  Watt Communications is 10. A significant yet humbling milestone I am immensely proud of achieving.


So what is in your tin?  Take the time to figure it out; we take time for granted, don’t always value the people in our lives, places or moments. 


Our moment is now. 10 years of integrated marketing and communications.  Of being strategic, creative, driven and fun. And here’s to the next 10 years. Public relations remains a key communications component, a perception shaper and awareness driver, the personality behind the brand, the depth required in all communications. 


Oscar Wilde said: “There is only one thing worse in life than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.”


Oscar is also in my tin.


Visit us on www.wattcommunications.co.za and find me , let me know what is in your tin and if we aren’t, let’s talk about fixing that!

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