Monday of Week 6, 5:30pm AEST
Length: 1,500 words
Text book must be used as one of the points of reference – Media and journalism 2nd edt – Bainbridge.
Role Play: You have just been appointed as chief “futures” adviser to Rupert Murdoch – Head of News Corp and publisher of The Australian and The Courier Mail and many
other Australian and global newspapers. Mr Murdoch has requested from you a 1,500 word briefing note that outlines the future of PRINT journalism in Australia, based
on your research of current trends. Your briefing note must have an executive summary that summarise the state of print journalism in Australia, a body that sets out
both the industry’s challenges and your solutions to meet those challenges, and a set of recommendations that ties your points together.
Some questions you might like to consider include:
•Who is reading hard copy newspapers in Australia today?
•Which newspapers are they reading?
•Who is subscribing to online only versions?
•What’s happening to advertising revenues in the Australian news media?
•Are we employing too many journalists?
You must reference your claims of fact and any statistics in the text of your paper by using Harvard referencing style, including a Reference List at the end of the
document. You must draw from at least eight (8) scholarly (peer-reviewed) sources (excluding web pages and newspapers). The Reference List is not included in the word
count, but all in-text quotations and references are.
BRIEFING NOTE TEMPLATE
Dear Students, your A1 In Styles & Genres of Journalism is an opportunity to learn a highly transferable skill like “executive summary” writing. If you have ever
attended the release of a major government report to the media, you will understand the value of these short, concise exec summaries (of the major govt report) to
time-poor TV reporters. Here we introduce you to a best practice model of report writing that will be very useful to you in future as any type of communications
professional, in journalism or PR.
The best process to create the style of report below would be to first do your research, select the best evidence upon which to create an overall argument or core
proposition and then, and only then start writing.
Good luck with it and remember any questions should be put in the Discussion Board under Briefing Note. Jo
Manufacturing quality bar soap has been at the heart of our company’s mission for over 100 years. Yet, in the past decade, sales of bar soap across all major brands
have plummeted as consumers increasingly turn to liquid varieties. At first, companies such as ours resisted the move to liquid soap, believing it to be a “fad” that
belied Australians’ true attachment to traditional soap forms. But field research now confirms consumers see bar soap as more appropriate to their grandmothers’ era
than to today. This report strongly recommends our company move with the times and produce the wide varieties of liquid soap our customers demand. A failure to do so
will see our company defeated by more modern-thinking competitor.
1.1 Our company has proudly supplied Australian and international families with quality bar soap for more than a century. We have built a reputation as a caring
company, one which puts the Australian family first (Jenkins 1999). Yet our company also faces its biggest challenge in our 100 years. A failure to respond to market
changes over the next few years will see this company become bankrupt. Urgent action at every level of the company is required. As Meredith (2008, p. 154) argues,
every corporation “must face regular renewal, or face permanent extinction”.
1.2 Between 1905 and 2005, bar soap constituted around 25 per cent of all bathroom products (ASS 2006). Since our company’s foundation in 1910, we have manufactured
and sold over a billion individual units domestically, and exported over 300 million units to every corner of the globe (Soapking 2013, p.1). Such was our dominance in
the domestic soap market that, by the year 2000, Soapking enjoyed a healthy market share of all soap bars sold in Australia (Soapking 2001).
1.3 Since 2005, however, the proportion of soap Australians purchase in bar form has fallen dramatically. Where Australians in 2005 purchased 100 million bars of soap,
that figure fell in 2012 to just 20 million (ASS 2013, p. 99). By contrast, purchases of liquid soap have soared during the same period, from 10 million litres to over
80 million litres (ASS 2013, p.101).
2.0 The Challenge
There has been a fundamental shift in the way Australians buy personal soap. Our challenge is to enter a new soap market, and to meet and undercut our competitors. In
the words of Wilson (1992, p. 2), “there is no business like the soap business”.
2.1 Just 10 years ago, the average Australian family of four purchased 95 soap bars each year. Today, that same family purchases annually just 25 bars (ASS 2013, p.
15). By contrast, where families 10 years ago each purchased an average of 9 litres of liquid soap, today families buy an average of 26 litres (ASS 2013, p. 15).
Interestingly, while women over the age of 50 allow bar soap to make up more than 75 per cent of all their soap purchases, women under 30 see bar soap comprise less
than 20 per cent of their total soap purchases. Conversely, men of all ages see bar soap comprise just over half of their total soap needs, with liquid soap making up
just under half of men’s soap products. In summary, liquid soap is consumed by younger Australians, and especially younger women (ASS 2013). While our market share has
fallen from 22 per cent in 2000 to just 5 per cent today, our biggest rival,Suds, has seen its market share grow to almost 40 per cent (Soapking 2013 p. 20). On
current trends, we will see our company become insolvent within five years. If so, our collapse will mirror the decline of a range of other household product companies
since the 1980s (Green 2002, p. 201). This decline can be attributed, in part, to broader shifts in consumption in the age of globalisation (Plummer 1992, p. 5).
2.2 There are three principal areas our company’s management must address.
2.2.1 The first is the changeover to liquid soap production as soon as possible. Changes in production will mean research and development into new liquid compounds,
and the purchase of new plant and equipment. Most critically, it will also mean training new and existing staff to take advantage of new operations (Jones 2005, p.
40). Total changeover costs are likely to exceed $9 million (Harris 2013).
2.2.2 The second area is to engage in new marketing research, including focus groups, to ascertain exactly the types, colours and scents consumers demand. We already
know liquid soap is consumed overwhelming by young women, with young men slightly behind (and with older women and older men even lower consumers). We must now “drill
down” into these age and gender cohorts to determine consumer preference in terms of range and packaging. As Mills (2008, p. 404) argues, “focus groups offer an
insight into consumer behaviour unable to be matched by sales figures alone”. A new advertising campaign must also be launched to align with our focus group research.
As Tolson (2003, p. 50) argues, “advertising strategies must be regularly renewed so consumers avoid becoming numb to pitch and angle”. It is estimated that a one
month advertising blitz in today’s market – across print, radio, television and online – will require a budget of approximately $1.2 million (Wills 2013). Our
advertising must promote the virtues of our own liquid product and, in Hamlyn’s (1991, p. 63), “undercut the competitors’ virtues”.
2.2.3 The third concern is that this company engages too many employees. With our annual wages bill well over $8 million (Soapking 2013, p.15), there must be a drastic
reduction in both production and, especially, non-production staff if we are to remain competitive. While it is estimated that at least 20 per cent of our workforce
will face forced redundancies, we are in a good financial position to adequately compensate dismissed workers and, in some cases, to offer re-training. It is good
moral business practice to assist employees even after separation (Zelos 2002, p. 97).
2.3 Finally, it must also be noted that there will always be a place for bar soap for Australian consumers and, as such, there will always be a place for bar soap at
Soapking. It is anticipated that bar soap will fall to around 15 per cent of all soap purchased in Australia by 2020, but is not expected to fall any lower (Millard
2010, p. 63). Our mission is to continue to hold majority market share in the sale of bar soap up to and beyond 2020.
This report makes four core recommendations that must be adopted by the close of this financial year, with the transition phase complete within five (5) calendar
3.1. Begin preparations – at the plant and equipment and the staff training levels – to move to liquid soap production.
3.2 Begin extensive field research to identify consumer wants and needs so production, and marketing, can meet those needs.
3.3. Scale down our production and non-production staff by at least 20 per cent over two years, with generous severance and retraining packages offered.
3.4. Continue to produce and market bar soap as a minority business concern, and market bar soap as specialist “niche” product.