Kim Williams: News Corp marketing techniques inherited were from the 1980s

Kim WilliamsThe former CEO of News Corp Australia Kim Williams has fired back at his former employer, after its current CEO Julian Clarke questioned changes he made to the company’s marketing of newspapers during his 2011-13 reign.

Yesterday a leaked News Corp financial report showed major declines in newspaper revenues for the Australian business under Williams, who exited the company 12 months ago.

At the Future Forum this morning Clarke said the documents were 14-months old, adding all of the trend lines he was responsible for are “heading the right way”,  and said the company had ignored promotion and marketing in the years preceding his arrival.

Speaking to Mumbrella this afternoon Williams responded to the claims saying:”If all the trend lines are heading in the right way I’m very happy to hear that. It’s very different from the experience I had.

“What we did was we took a different approach to marketing which was actually more consistent with modern methodologies. I think many of the newspaper promotional techniques that I inherited were firmly from the 1980s.

“I didn’t consider that to be appropriate.”

Speaking at The Newspaper Works’s Future Forum this morning Clarke chose to take a pop at his predecessor over his approach to marketing newspapers.

“One of the mistakes we have made within our own company within recent times, if I can reflect back a little is that we stopped (print marketing/promotions),” said Clarke. “You need people talking about the paper and activating the paper so you give people a reason to go and buy the paper, a special different reason to buy the paper – that’s important.”

The News Corp stoush began yesterday after news website Crikey (paywall), published leaked internal document which showed the News Corp’s Australian newspaper division dropped $320m in ad revenues and cut one in eight jobs in the 2012-13 financial year. In response to the leak Kim Williams told Fairfax he expected a “festival of vengeance against me”.

The former News Corp CEO was also today criticised in the pages of The Australian with an opinion piece arguing: “Williams implemented hard and fast changes that went too fast, too soon.

“The editorial and advertising teams bore the brunt of painful cost-cutting, which led to redundancies across all parts of the business and a degree of discomfort among senior leaders in the group who felt their hands were tied behind their backs.”

Williams responded to the criticisms this afternoon describing them “predictable”.

“It’s all very very predictable,” he said. “It’s easier to point a bone at people rather than address your own problems effectively.”

Nic Christensen


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