CAMPAIGN MEDIA AWARDS: Campaign Gold Award - Most Dynamic Media Company - Emap

21 October 2002 was a hugely symbolic date in the history of Emap. Not because one of the company's big annual events, the Q magazine awards, took place that day. No, the event that mattered happened earlier on, in more prosaic surrounds, when the company was re-admitted to the FTSE 100 index.

It may sound like a less-than-inspiring-City technicality. It isn't.

Emap had been missing from the FTSE for well over a year, a period when it seemed as if it could not just drop off the index but slide off everyone's radar altogether and into oblivion. This is a real phoenix from the flames story.

Not many companies survive the sort of setbacks that Emap experienced as it sought to expand in the US; it could have been forgiven for losing its way completely. Not a bit of it. It has dusted itself down and got on with things - and as the months have passed, the verve, confidence and irrepressible enthusiasm that ran through the company of old has begun to return. Emap has also been redefining and restructuring itself to make true sense of the convergence between old and new media - a trick that few of its rivals are close to understanding, let alone replicating.

The company has always been strong in music (its portfolio of youth and music magazines plus the Kiss and Magic networks on radio) but this year it has been extending its music franchises further into digital television with the launch of new stations on cable and satellite. Its television brands now include Q, Smash Hits and Kerrang! as well as The Box, its video jukebox. Emap is now looking to take other specialist magazine titles on to TV and it is also poised to become one of the leading content providers for 3G mobile services next year.

Emap is also continuing to innovate on the advertising sales side. It was one of the first companies to try a cross-media sell across its youth audiences on radio and print, through a specialist division, Emap Advertising.

Now it is able to offer TV too (and soon mobile) and the whole thing has really taken off. But each sector is more than able to hold its own. Agencies have been particularly impressed by the efforts of the magazine sales teams overseen by the sales director, Theresa Coligan - and revenues on the print side certainly seem to have been outperforming the rest of the market.

There have been setbacks, of course. A couple of months back, Hachette served notice that it was terminating the joint venture with Emap (publisher of both Elle and Red) and was taking full control of the joint venture titles. Losing these flagship women's magazine brands was a blow to Emap but it has served notice that it will launch titles to fill the breach.

And who would bet against it? Emap has an awesome track record when it comes to launching new consumer titles. Additions this year have included Sneak! (a younger version of Heat) and Closer (a women's weekly version of Heat) and its Emap Performance division has poached the Wallpaper creative director, Paul Kurzeja, as it gears up to launch at least three new music titles.

At the top, Emap is also closer to sorting out the succession as its chief executive, Robin Miller, prepares to retire next summer. The big question now, though, is what role Emap will play in the wave of mergers and acquisitions that's expected to be triggered by the provisions of the new Communications Bill as it proceeds through Parliament next year.

In particular, Emap's radio properties will come under the microscope.

If Emap doesn't intend being a buyer, it will almost certainly be forced to become a seller. We shall see.

You don't have to own a broad portfolio of media to be considered for Campaign's Most Dynamic Media Company award. On the other hand, many diversified media owners are less than dynamic. But this year, Emap has more than amply demonstrated that you can tick both boxes.


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