Arif Durrani, head of media at Campaign, editor of Media Week
Arif Durrani, head of media at Campaign, editor of Media Week
A view from Arif Durrani

Wildman is bringing some much-needed optimism back to the press industry

"We finally have milk in the kitchen," a Trinity Mirror sales executive says; three months into his role of chief revenue officer, James Wildman is...

Not that Wildman has become the publisher’s milkman – but, having been cast in the role of change agent, within his first few days at One Canada Square, he asked for comments about what needed fixing.

Easy wins such as providing milk for tea were addressed within days. Other changes – such as removing silos and a complete redesign of the 20th floor to make it open plan – will take longer but are in the pipeline.

Wildman’s decision to join the press sector this summer surprised a few onlookers, but not those who know him best. A self-styled "doer", Wildman is happiest when he’s driving change.

And, after three years acting as local caretaker for the US-led Yahoo, the good-natured media man admits to "feeling like a pig in shit" now that he’s deeply ensconced with the power to act at the publisher.

It’s easy to forget the scale of the sprawling national and regional publishing business, which still employs 4,758 people.

'The ability of news brands to set the agenda and form opinions is advertised on TV every night'

He admits that some of his peers have asked why he took on the job, but any doubters only provide further motivation in his quest to force a reappraisal of the publisher.

He dismisses those who talk down Trinity Mirror and the press sector in general, and believes part of the problem is the gap between reality and perception. Journalists have been too quick to talk down their own prospects, he claims, and they overlook all the areas in which the press sector excels.

To illustrate his point, Wildman notes that Yahoo’s revenue declined more than Trinity’s last year, while the publisher also attracts more unique users across its portfolio than Twitter UK.

The affable Wildman is setting out his stall to be a vocal ambassador for both Trinity Mirror and the wider industry, noting the vital role news brands play within a press sector worth £3.7 billion. He says the ability of news brands to set the agenda and form opinions is advertised on TV every night, when current affairs programmes end with a look at the next day’s papers.

Such positivity is rare in today’s press sector. It will be interesting to see if he can retain his sunny disposition, and halt six years of revenue declines, come the new year (read James Wildman's first interview as chief revenue officer at Trinity Mirror here).