City AM's decision shows how publishers have to evolve to survive

Hands up if you were surprised by City AM's decision to allow brands to directly access its CMS and post stories?

If City AM's decision equals survival, it is to be welcomed, argues Jim Hawker
If City AM's decision equals survival, it is to be welcomed, argues Jim Hawker
Hopefully not too many hands have been raised across PR land, for this is just the latest announcement in a long series of events that show how publishers are trying to adapt to the changing world and, God forbid, actually make some money.

When City AM brought in Charles Yardley as COO at the end of the year it was a clear signal that things were going to change quite radically. 

Yardley had overseen a successful period of change at Forbes and it was quite a coup to land him and his ability to turn loss-making publishing companies around.

Much has already been written about the rise of native advertising and the creation of branded content teams within publishing staff. 

It is merely symptomatic of the fact that publishers are being squeezed, by falling print circulations coupled with free online content and Facebook becoming the gatekeeper for attention. Publishers are having to evolve their business models to survive.

Rumours were sweeping through the media world just a couple of weeks ago that The Guardian was about to shut its print version down. 

Were people overly surprised? I don’t think they were. This was just one semi-believable rumour after another.

Reaction to City AM’s announcement has been fairly mixed. Clearly there is concern for the readers themselves; that they would find it difficult to understand what is independent editorial - and what isn’t. 

Personally I feel these arguments do the reader a disservice. As long as it’s clear what is paid-for content and what isn’t, then I don’t see the problem.

The quality of paid-for or branded content continues to rise and I have been impressed by the outputs of some of the branded editorial teams at other publications such as Time Out. 

The ASA and Google itself are now stepping up their efforts to clamp down on influencers to make them declare whether they have been paid to co-create content, and this way of serving content to consumers is becoming more prevalent.

I certainly don’t think we should be negative towards City AM. 

We have to ask ourselves whether we are happy that it has opened up its content in this way or would we rather it wasn't around at all.

If it means that City AM continues and indeed flourishes then I think it’s a price worth paying.

Jim Hawker is co-founder of Threepipe

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