The Swiss publishing company Ringier entered the Hungarian market 30 years ago, in 1993, with the establishment of a subsidiary. Its presence in Hungary has since been determined by a few external and internal structural changes.
“Ringier’s Hungarian media portfolio has changed over the years and the market experienced a complete transformation but two main pillars have remained unchanged throughout. The first one, a reliable professional staff of the country's leading media specialists; the second is our mission, which is as valid today as it was in 1993. We inform, we entertain, and we connect. We empower people in making decisions in their daily lives. We reach a significant part of the Hungarian population, our publications – such as Blikk, GLAMOUR, Kiskegyed, Sportal.hu, EgészségKalauz.hu, Noizz.hu, Tvr-hét, GEO and AutoBild magazines, crosswords newspapers – are present in hundreds of thousands of households. We operate independently, and this is guaranteed not only by the local management and the sense of mission of the whole organization but also by our Swiss mother company, the Ringier Group,” Chief Executive Officer at Ringier Hungary, Tibor Kovács tells Diplomacy&Trade.
Withstanding the challenges
He adds that Ringier Hungary provides predictability, guaranteed reach and plannability in a media market that is considered complex, even at the European level. “Although we operate under difficult conditions and without a tailwind compared to some of our competitors, we can withstand the challenges and are more successful than them in many respects. Why? Because we are authentic, we do not work with showcase products set up in a few weeks but with a portfolio consciously built up over decades. We don't serve external needs. We serve our readers every day. And, of course, we develop and invest in our products unwaveringly.”
The key to development is complete digital transformation, which fundamentally defines the company's past years and future. New digital products are launched, internal processes are simplified and digitized for the sake of efficiency, and employees are equipped with new knowledge to understand and prevail in the complex world of Business 4.0. “We are making rapid strides towards becoming a leading digital media company in Hungary, and nothing proves this better than the fact that the share of our digital revenues has increased tenfold in recent years. But the work is far from over. I am grateful that all members of our company take their part in the change and contribute to the success. I also thank them for their perseverance and determination! Fortune favors the bold,” Tibor Kovács stresses.
A creative ecosystem
The company has a portfolio of print and digital products, but the CEO says this heterogeneity no longer appears in their operating model. “We are a content factory – a creative ecosystem. We try to provide as diverse range of content as possible. In addition to traditional written content, we are increasingly focusing on video formats and podcasts. To support this, we have built our video studio in 2022, which even competes with the professional level of TV studios.
The future is digital but that doesn't mean we turn our backs on our printed product line. One had predicted the end of the print press ten or twenty years ago, but it has not yet happened, just as linear television has not been replaced by video-on-demand and streaming platforms. If we look at the level of advertising spendings in the domestic print media segment, we can see that it has not changed substantially in the last ten years. Regardless, it is indisputable that, almost without exception, the number of copies of all printed products is decreasing globally.”
At the same time, he says they also find that “the trend of reading in print, breaking away from the digital space, is an increasingly important value, luxury in our rushing digital world. We continue to satisfy this demand. GLAMOUR Hungary is the fashion magazine with the most copies sold, dealing with social and public issues in the same way as with fashion, art, and lifestyle. Our GEO or Auto Bild brands and many bookazine publications that combine the advantages of books and magazines also represent quality and professionalism. Preserving decades of experience and knowledge accumulated in our editorial offices – this is our mission. There are no coincidences. Our traditional women’s weekly, Kiskegyed is still the product with the most copies sold at newsstands. At the same time, its newly launched online magazine, kiskegyed.hu, performs stably among the most popular women's online sites, more than once as the market leader. Blikk is still the largest Hungarian daily newspaper, and blikk.hu is the most popular news site and the most visited domestic website.”
Increasing gender equality
In March this year, Ringier Hungary announced that, with its portfolio, it would join the international EqualVoice initiative, which aims to reduce the qualitative and quantitative asymmetry that can be observed at the global level in terms of the expert voices of men and women in the media. According to the Global Media Monitoring Project`s analysis in 2021, 82% of media appearances worldwide are about men. To make the phenomenon measurable, the Ringier Group developed a software solution based on a semantic algorithm in-house, which can analyze the quantitative and qualitative mentions of women and men in online and print media – an EqualVoice Factor indicator. “First, we appointed a cross-organizational project manager to lead the initiative. Second, we held sensitizing workshops with the participation of our editors-in-chief. Third, we put the artificial intelligence-based software into operation on four of our online sites. We appointed team leads for each editorial office, who prepared a strategy for increasing gender equality tailored to the specific brand and target group. We have made a contact list of one hundred domestic female experts representing various disciplines and fields of expertise. Any of our editors and journalists can contact them if they need a statement or an interviewee on a given topic,” Tibor Kovács highlights some of the steps they made to achieve real change.
“The next milestone of the project, planned for the fall of 2023, will be to start the EqualVoice measurement of our video content. In the case of blikk.hu, we have already achieved a 10% improvement in gender equality and the base also performed well above the international average,” he adds.
Foundations for another 30 years
Ringier Hungary has made significant investments like the launch of new digital portals on sports and women's issues or that its own video studio already mentioned. “While others responded to the economic challenges of recent years with downsizing and product discontinuation, we made significant investments, launched new products and, in the case of several of our organizational units, even increased the number of employees. All of it was made possible by our conscious management and thorough strategic planning, as well as the commitment of our owner, Ringier AG, to the Hungarian market,” the CEO points out.
In conclusion, he notes that they are facing exciting years as many processes running in the background come into effect. “It will further increase our competitiveness and resilience. On our 30th anniversary, we spend this year in the spirit of celebration, but at the same time, we do not forget that we are currently laying the foundations on which we can build 30 more years of success.”
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