Media jollies do have important business benefits

Last week's feature about media jollies produced a large response from readers and suggested that the exposition of the two sides of the argument for and against continuing with corporate entertainment in a recession had really hit a nerve.

Steve Barrett, editor of Media Week
Steve Barrett, editor of Media Week

On one side, there are those who believe it is in poor taste to continue with media junkets when all around our sector people are losing their jobs and ad revenues are sliding. Several traditional fixtures in the media jolly calendar have been cancelled in 2009 as a reflection of this view. On the other hand, there are those who believe building relationships with clients and customers is more important than ever in a recession and that to shut off the lifeblood of this process would be cutting off your nose to spite your face.

I am particularly swayed by media agency veteran Steve Booth's take on this. As a founding partner of Booth Lockett Makin, he has spent his own hard-earned cash over many years to fund skiing trips with clients. And now his agency has been acquired by global marketing services giant Havas and rebranded as Arena BLM, it continues to invest in corporate entertaining.

Booth recognises that media is all about people and relationships, and that these relationships are built and reinforced by spending quality time with people away from the immediate work environment. This is probably even more important during a recession if agencies are to retain their clients and come out the other end with their businesses in good shape to take advantage of the upturn (for however bad things seem now, an upturn will come eventually).

I respect those companies that have decided to pull in their horns and cancelled corporate entertainment, put on more cost-effective activities or taken advantage of barter, as ITV is doing. But, if pushed, I would be more swayed by Steve Booth's philosophy.

In any case, it would be hypocritical of a journalist to come over all moralistic about the matter when, if we are honest, my profession is just as partial to the delights of the media jolly as any other.

Steve Barrett is editor of Media Week
steve.barrett@haymarket.com
www.mediaweek.co.uk/stevebarrettblog

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