MEDIA HEADLINER: Indie’s faith healer embraces tough task with enthusiasm. Stephen Miron is happy to join a paper in difficulties. Why? Claire Beale reports

It’s hard to really know someone if they’re wearing shades. You miss the flashes of guilt, the incriminating look away when the bullshit comes, the clear stare of integrity or honesty, the tell-tale signs of an active social life. The only thing you’ve got to go on when someone’s hiding their eyes is your instinct.

It’s hard to really know someone if they’re wearing shades. You

miss the flashes of guilt, the incriminating look away when the bullshit

comes, the clear stare of integrity or honesty, the tell-tale signs of

an active social life. The only thing you’ve got to go on when someone’s

hiding their eyes is your instinct.



My instinct is telling me that Stephen Miron’s a pretty decent, straight

bloke. Which is just as well, because my eyes are telling me he’s a bit

of a flash git. He’s all shades-and-suntan, pink polo-shirt, BMW and

platinum Amex, but it’s a nice day and I’m feeling generous.



With the labels comes the smooth charm. Miron is a bit of a social

oiler, a ’bon viveur and a great host’ according to CIA’s managing

director, Alan Brydon. He works hard at relationships but without the

obvious cynical edge you meet in ’everybody’s friend’ salesmen. Miron is

more of a natural than that. As he keeps telling me, ’what you see is

what you get’, with or without shades.



Relationships will be important in his new job. Miron has just been

appointed commercial director of the Independent, and he’s about to need

all the friends he can get.



The fact that someone, anyone, is joining the Independent right now is a

case for raised eyebrows. That that someone should be jumping from the

highly successful Mail On Sunday (where Miron is ad manager) seems more

like a case for sending in the men in white coats.



The Indie’s circulation fell 12 per cent in the last six months, the

editor’s chair hasn’t accommodated a bum long enough to get warm and the

newspaper has lost most of what little credibility it had left among the

advertising community. Then it was sold.



As a white knight, Independent Publishing’s Tony O’Reilly has a lot

going for him - a formidable track record as a successful entrepreneur

and a personal fortune of pounds 1.1 billion for starters.



And Miron says he likes a challenge. More importantly, he likes the idea

of a big job, the chance to help shape something, build a strong

newspaper product which has respect in the marketplace.



Sure, it’ll be a struggle, but selling the Mail on Sunday to media

buyers must be a bit like being Pamela Anderson’s Wonderbra - you’re

never quite sure how necessary you really are. At least at the Indie

they’re desperate for a strong commercial edge.



Miron is sure to shake up the ad team on the paper (thank God, say

agencies) and as one friend points out, ’Steve has got a side to him

which means he’s happy taking difficult decisions, even if he does do it

with a sense of humour.’ In the words of his buddy, Mike Anderson, New

PHD’s marketing director, Miron is ’a sparkly, fun personality, a great

businessman and an awesome find for the Independent’.



Mind you, Miron says he’ll be sad to leave Associated Newspapers after

ten years with the group. Then again, after ten years he’s not top dog,

his boss Simon Barnes doesn’t look like he’s going anywhere and when

you’re a tender 33, ambitious and sharp and someone offers you a big

man’s job without having to serve your time as a sales director, what

can you do?



’Either you’re happy being a number two or you want your own train

set.



I always knew I wanted my own train set,’ Miron says.



At the Indie he will be responsible for all the revenues. His targets

are ’very realistic, definitely achievable, but will mean a huge amount

of work. It’s not just a sprint, it’s a marathon at least; we’re in it

for the long term.’ And while others may see the job as something of a

poisoned chalice, for Miron the challenge is an attraction and the

ambition for revival a realistic one. ’I think the Independent is a

fantastic brand, it’s just that more people need to know about it. It

still has its own identity and there’s a definite niche in the market

for it.’



Miron is also encouraged by the appointment of Simon Kelner as

editor.



He worked with Kelner when he edited the Mail on Sunday’s Night and Day

supplement. ’If they’re investing in someone like him it gives me great

confidence that this is going to work.’



Kelner, for whom Miron is ’a hunk of hebrew’, returns the

compliment.



’Simon is all personality and great at cultivating relationships with

editorial. He understands that commercial and editorial need to have the

same objectives and that when they do, it creates a very powerful

force.’



For a newspaper lacking in colour and personality - at least with the

advertising community if not with its die-hard readers - Miron can’t

fail to make a difference. Personality, though, won’t be enough if the

circulation remains in freefall and I bet there’s a hint of apprehension

lurking behind Miron’s shades.





THE MIRON FILE

1985: TV Times, sales assistant

1988: Mail On Sunday, sales executive

1991: Mail on Sunday, sales manager

1993: Mail on Sunday, advertising manager

1998: Independent, commercial director



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