My Old China

There’ll be a fair bit of China here. It’s what I know, where I worked for many years, and since I’ve come home to the UK, I’ve discovered it’s a topic everyone wants to talk about. It’s all over the papers, including the EDP.

So I’ve been milking it, whilst I’m still up to date.

China has come in handy for my research for Benedict Marketing. I want to know everything about local media, from print to radio, TV and online. It’s hard, for good reason, to have someone tell you about their business when you don’t have anything to offer in return – by way of business.

So I employed a simple approach: tell me about your media and I’ll tell you about China, and the media there, in particular the magazines I published.

I’ve met some great people, and learnt a lot: my thanks to them. I hope they got something useful from me, though I’m afraid much of it was along the lines of ‘let me tell you a funny story about how they do things in China…’

Everyone likes stories of censorship, Communist Party paranoia, bribery and corruption.

Funnily enough, the stories people seemed to enjoy the most are ones that could apply to any country and any media: the pranks we played on our competitors (entering reader competitions under assumed names and winning, then offering ourselves jobs), putting fake adverts in our magazines, with our own phone numbers, so when competitors called and wanted to persuade ‘us’ to advertise in their mags, we could hear their sales pitch. The challenge of writing content for completely different readerships, Chinese, foreign, American, French – stick a pin in a globe – in a language (English) that was secondary to the majority of our readers, also struck a chord.

In return I’ve been delighted to hear a language I understand, and spoken in my native tongue for a change: local media.

There are great people doing great things in Norfolk with local media. (I speak with the humble authority of a ‘mini media mogul’. That’s what the Financial Times once called me, briefly.) I’m impressed. But there’s still more that can be done. One thing that surprised me is the emphasis placed on the Internet. It seems to be the default setting for any discussion about marketing a business. Now I know the web is important – you wouldn’t be reading this if it wasn’t – but the way people talk about increasing numbers of page-views and visitors to websites, apparently to the detriment of the real issue which is to get real visitors into your real business. That seems odd. It also gave me an idea, for a media product that takes the advantages of the web and puts them back into print. More about that, and the Norfolk web, later. I must get to work.


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