Narratiive Publisher Profile – August 2016

Kevin Ferguson, CEO, Highbury Safika Media



Tell us briefly about yourself and the digital media property you represent.


HSM’s multimedia business has evolved from a publishing media house for the past two decades primarily focused on magazine publishing, with an emphasis on customer publishing that also expanded into consumer magazines. The business has 35 print magazine titles, 24 digital properties and we have for the past eight years been the media partner for SASCOC.


What do you believe is the biggest challenge for digital media in South Africa? Content, advertising contextual relevance etc. 


I see a multimedia component more than a strictly digital aspect of media. There will always be a place for print and the challenge is getting advertisers, clients and consumers to appreciate the value and understand all the various components of a multimedia business, which delivers digitally, visually, in print form and extends to events. The cliché is that content is King. What is King is the quality of that content and digital engagement, by way of social media interaction, determines whether the reader, consumer, client and advertiser views the content with the necessary integrity and quality. Print didn’t always allow for this feedback. There is no escaping opinion in social media and there is no vacuum in terms of numbers. We know what is being read, who is reading it and what they think of the content and that’s a fantastic advancement in the multimedia development.


If you had to pick one do you see your property as being: A. a value for money – great reach B. niche but extremely relevant C. contextualised for the user


Niche but extremely relevant.


What is going to be your focus for the next 12 months to ensure you are able to offer advertisers A, B or C?


Constant evolution and the understanding within our business that the multimedia facets are changing weekly. Our business continues to evolve as we as individuals within the business understand the nuances, trends and consumer needs of a multimedia offering. It’s a wonderful time to be in media because there is no right or wrong and technological advances will continue to challenge our thinking. Content is everything and as I said previously it’s the quality of the content that will determine consumer interest and advertising spend.


What is your greatest concern when it comes to the digital industry in South Africa? 


That not enough emphasis is placed on media and content and that the principles of media and story telling haven’t changed. We’ve encountered our fair share of supposed media digital experts but it’s been more a case of individuals speaking a language of technology and not having an understanding of media and content. We are in the media and digital will become the dominant platform but the essence of the content remains the same, be it in print form or through video, social media or on a screen.


What are your plans in the next 12 months to “Make Digital Awesome”?


I’d prefer to focus on the next 12 hours and then the following 12 months. The global trends change so fast that what is revolutionary on a Monday can be dated by Friday. Quality content will make digital awesome … content is our focus.


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