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EDITORIAL: This past week could have been a year. Our world is changing rapidly as our society and economy responds to and adapt to the realities being wrought by the covid-19 pandemic. We know the worst is yet to come. We’re bracing, all of us, for potential losses: personal, economic, societal. We don’t know what tomorrow brings but it’s important we continue to believe that a positive future awaits all of us — as people and professionals, as individuals and as an industry.

Our commitment to you

MarkLives commits to continue covering how the local advertising, marketing and media industries respond to the challenges posed by the pandemic and the fight to mitigate its impact on our health and the health of our creative economy.

Last week, we started tracking brand and ad agency reactions and news related to the novel coronavirus in our live tracker (23–27 March 2020 here and 16–20 March here). Another tracker is following advertising and marketing industry event changes, postponements and cancellations.

Our base of specialist contributors and columnists are being rallied to explore the impact of covid-19 in their sectors. Already, we’ve published content covering its impact on the sports and sports entertainment industry, explored corporate South Africa’s duty in a time of #covid19, looked at the fight against fake news on social media, found optimism in a future with more-conscious business, taken a look at how much more difficult transactions and sales have become, what retailers can do to help flatten the curve, and asked at what point does a brand’s engagement on an issue become exploitative. Similarly, our new sister site, RetailingAfrica, has launched weekly tracking to curate and update readers on the latest developments in South Africa and Africa and the disease’s impact on the brand and retail value chain across the continent.

While we redirect substantial resources to covering covid-19, we’ll continue to bring you other relevant industry news, including news on account tenders and wins, management moves and new work.

Funding for the future

The world is focused on the grim toll this pandemic is having on human lives and livelihoods. On the first, there’s no words for the horror emerging out of countries at the front line of this crisis. China, Iran, Italy and others hold a dire warning for us to protect the most-vulnerable members of our society and our healthcare professionals.

Equally, we understand the economic impact will be severe — on the livelihoods of millions, on our economy and fiscus, on our industry, our clients, your clients, on you, on us. With this in mind, we’re introducing several changes to our commercial operations.

We believe in the value offered by our industry, not only in a time of crisis, of contributing to the wheels of commerce and enterprise. And continue to turn they must. Marketing, media and communication are all critical aspects in ensuring commercial operations, and the jobs they help create and maintain endure. At the same time, we believe — as we always have — in the importance of an independent, journalism-driven trade media, and we’ll have to find a way to fund this into the future. We have purpose and intent.

1. Pay what you can

As of today, our company newsroom offering — Ramify.biz — switches from a fixed annual fee to a pay-what-you-can service. It will count for both new Premium Profiles, as well as those up for renewal. Our intent is to keep this policy in place for the duration of the national state of disaster declared by President Ramaphosa last week.

In short, our commercial arm that allows agencies and their suppliers to access our audience will be opened to all agencies and agency suppliers without a set minimum price in place. Renewals will function on the same basis. We ask clients who can afford to renew at our commercial rate of R13 690 (incl VAT) per annum to do so, as it will help fund our journalistic mission. But, if you can’t, please pay what you can.

Communication is key in a time of crisis. We believe that clients can’t afford to end commercial communication just because cash flow is tight. We’re trying to remove this as a barrier to creating narrative and movement around your business and around our industry. A similar offering is set to be announced for the commercial operations of our sister site though its Co.RetailingAfrica.com service.

For information on our Ramify.biz service, please click here. To contact us, please click here.

2. Pay it forward

We’re asking large agencies and industry supporters, who wish to contribute a subsidy to small and startup agencies’ profiles on Ramify.biz, to do so at a special discounted, annual rate. MarkLives will subsidise half the fee of new company newsrooms for qualifying agencies or agency suppliers, while our partners will fund the rest. We’ll liaise with relevant industry organisations to proactively identify beneficiaries. Subsidised profiles will stay in place even after the state of disaster is lifted, and they’ll be valid for 12 months at a time. Contact us to support this initiative; we’ll publicise the subsidised newsrooms as they become available.

We’re also upping our collaboration with various industry bodies to ensure relevant news and communication to their membership also reaches our audience.

3. Become a member

Last but not least, MarkLives now offers readers an opportunity to help fund us for as little as R50 a month, or R600 per annum. We’ll remain free and outside a paywall but MarkLives Memberships allow individuals who find value in our publication to both show their support and help finance our operations. We’ll gradually be adding benefits to memberships; for the moment, its purpose is to assist us in a time of crisis. We’ll keep members updated on progress in a private, members-only Facebook group.

With all of the above, we hope to have struck a balance between enabling our industry and its partners to effectively communicate with one another during this crisis (which should allow more of us to come out of these difficult times intact and operational) while continuing to fund our work as the industry’s go-to resource for news and insight.

Stay safe, be kind, and have hope.

The Editors
Herman Manson • @MarkLives
Simone Puterman • @SimoneAtLarge
Louise Burgers • @RetailingAfrica

 

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Published by Herman Manson

MarkLives.com is edited by Herman Manson. Follow us on Twitter - http://twitter.com/marklives

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