Media: A Moment with Marquis

Turn your back for two minutes in this business and everything, but everything, changes. Last week I proffered the view that Graham Duff leaving ITV may not be the greatest news our oldest commercial broadcaster may have wished for on its 50th birthday. Now his boss, Mick Desmond, has gone too. Whatever is going on? There must be something feverish in the September air.

Mike Anderson is moving from Associated to News Group. David Mansfield is leaving GCap. And Mark Wood is to quit Sky and ... the revolving door is but a blur.

When you read this sort of thing in the trade press it seems, momentarily at least, like the end of the world. Big names in big jobs one minute; the next, they are gone, either to a competitor or to a new role outside of the media business or just plain "with no job to go to".

We are, the cliche goes, a people business. Business relationships in media are all. People are paramount. They shape their companies, their staff, their sales policies, their agency principles and practices. People make the culture. They are what make one place different from another.

But in media, it seems, they can be gone quicker than a Premiership manager without a home win.

Yet companies survive, soldier on, adapt and change - however galactic the departure list. Very quickly, what seems like the calamitous end of civilisation as we know it turns into an opportunity for some rising star and a good chance for a rethink and a fresh start.

But as an industry, we don't exactly handle these things well, do we?

ITV will no doubt live to fight another day without Desmond, but shedding senior people at the rate of one a week doesn't look too clever, does it? Who next for the slaughterhouse, one wonders. And where will it end?

It's not always possible to manage the announcement of high-profile moves easily. Events conspire to bubble the news to the surface all too fast, but the fact remains that shock departures are unsettling for staff and customers alike, and a leaf should be taken from the books of those companies that manage these things with due care and attention.

The old BMP agency was particularly skilful at handling changes in management, telegraphing restructures and new roles well ahead of schedule so that when they came about, nobody was in the least surprised or disturbed by them. Sod's law being what it is, no doubt I shall be eating those very words this time next week.

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