International Business Media: Special Report

The closure of Forbes Global was the last thing international media needed, just as audiences and ad revenues seemed to be returning after a miserable five years. Was Forbes' demise a symptom of underlying malaise?

While the market is hardly bristling with the confidence of 2000, the answer is a tentative no. Even the print side of the business is looking perkier this year, media owners report. This, despite the debate over the efficacy of media surveys and the fact that most accept the audience of high-flying chief executives may have peaked.

The Financial Times and The Wall Street Journal are doing a fair job of keeping readers loyal online. Yet few doubt that print will be the dominant international business medium for many years yet.

As trite and unlikely as it sounds, the best way for international media to sell itself is by showing that, even in a tough market, it is prepared to pull together.

Take Shell's "questions for the future" by MediaCom, voted the best campaign to run in international business media in our industry peer poll (page 30). In January, the oil giant embarked on a three-year "engagement programme" to convince a handful of influential people of its role in tackling the energy crisis.

What makes Shell's activity unique, Adrian Smith, the man driving it at MediaCom, says, is that it gets media owners such as Newsweek and BBC World collaborating - on advertorials, programming and events. "International media shouldn't involve lying awake worrying about the reach of The Wall Street Journal or BusinessWeek. That's such crap," Smith says. "Does that really matter when you're trying to talk to the prime minister of China?

There's a wealth of possibility and engagement, and many fascinating ways of getting through to some very powerful people."