Phil Stone Started Out as a US School Sports Reporter. Some 35 Years Later He Was Running Reuters European Media Business. Now You Can Benefit Directly From That Wealth of Media Experience
PHILIP M. STONE
Mr. Stone has held a wide variety of management positions with an American and a British news agency covering a period of some 30 years. He was most recently the Managing Director for Reuters Media, Europe, Middle East and Africa, running a business with a $75 million annual turnover.
His management experience ranges from the so-called “traditional” business of selling international news and news pictures to newspapers, news agencies, magazines etc. to launching the sportsweb.com web site which Reuters sold after two years for a sizeable profit.
He was global commercial director for Reuters Television News and he was on the team that launched Reuters Financial Television – a specialized television service delivered directly to financial traders. At Reuters he also was on the team that launched News 2000, the written news service delivered globally to financial subscribers, he introduced picture archiving services, and launched in Europe the Reuters Business Briefing news archive service which later was incorporated into Factiva.
He was continually ahead of the product development curve, introducing new products in Europe which later were released for global release. This included making Reuters news available on PDA’s, starting SMS news services in several countries, and even delivering news to in-car information services, all part of the clear vision that to expand business you must seek new subscriber markets, refining existing products to meet new needs.
Mr. Stone has a sound journalistic background. He started as as a reporter for the weekly newspaper in Upland, California, and then the Daily Report in Ontario, California, covering his high school sports. College took him to San Jose, California, where, after serving as editor of the college's daily newspaper, he joined the San Jose Mercury-News upon graduation, starting on the copy desk and working his way onto the reporting desks.
Seeking new horizons, UPI hired him in 1972 in London where he served as a news editor for the European operation, and when UPI moved its European center to Brussels Mr. Stone moved there, too. A year later he became Helsinki Bureau manager and three years later he was business and news editor for UPI's Nordic region.
Returning to the US in 1979, Mr. Stone then concentrated solely on business matters, becoming the business manager for the state of Indiana. Within just two years he became the leading salesperson for United Press International. He achieved this by not only gaining new accounts but also by considerably increasing the subscription rates paid by current customers. He also became a very successful hardware salesman, selling satellite dishes to subscribers so they could receive the UPI services while the Associated Press was placing dishes at subscriber sites at no charge. He held a variety of senior management posts at UPI, leaving there in 1987 as deputy global sales manager. A few months later he joined Reuters in Paris.
In 30 years news agency experience on both sides of the Atlantic, Mr. Stone has a unique insight into the media world, its needs, and that invaluable first-hand knowledge of how a media business must be run to ensure maximum profitability.
IN MORE DETAIL:
Back in the ‘80s in the US when the competition between the Associated Press (AP) and United Press International (UPI) was at its most fierce, and when “satellite transmission” was the buzz expression in both agencies for saving a fortune on telephone company charges for local dedicated circuits, the UPI management came up with a particularly interesting challenge for its sales people:
Whereas the AP had decided it would place satellite dishes free of charge at their client sites, UPI did not have the funds to make such a capital purchase. So, UPI proposed that its clients pay the $6,000 (a substantial amount in those days) cost up front and the client would then receive, for five years, an annual rebate of $1,200 off its UPI bills.
Now, if you were the newspaper publisher or radio station owner, with an offer of a free dish on your roof or the privilege of buying one from UPI and getting the money back over five years, which deal would you have gone for?
Within 12 months, Philip M. Stone, then a regional sales executive for UPI in the US state of Indiana, became the number one satellite dish salesman for UPI globally.
“That’s when I decided I had met my calling. If you can sell your product successfully against your competitor ‘giving it away’ then I knew I could sell anything,” Mr. Stone said at the time.
That same experience was put to use many years later when Mr. Stone worked with Reuters in Europe. Reuters had a great reputation for news. Bloomberg, its prime competitor in the financial world, wanted to emulate that reputation. Reuters had many clients in the media world, thus its brand was daily on the front pages of the world’s leading newspapers. So Bloomberg, in a marketing masterstroke, decided he would give his news away to the world’s leading media, on condition that they printed a minimum number of stories a month. Many newspapers took up the offer, and Bloomberg could then proudly tell his financial clients that if his news was good enough for the best of the world’s media then surely it was good enough for them!
This caused some disarray in Reuters. Senior managers said the media division would have to do the same as Bloomberg – give news away free to the media. – in order to maintain its brand in the world’s major newspapers. Mr. Stone, in charge of the European media at the time, said, “No way” (cleaned up a bit!) Instead he gave his sales people the answers when their clients asked for free news. And the end result:
“In the end I think you could count on one hand the number of paid subscribers that left Reuters for the Bloomberg free news. By not succumbing we maintained a very healthy revenue,” he said.
It was proof again that you can successfully sell against those who are ‘giving it away’. And if you can sell against that then you can sell against just about anything.
It is that on-the-job experience that Mr. Stone brings to Stone & Associates Media Solutions. Whether it is sales training. motivational training, problem solving, speeches to media about future trends, speeches to non media groups about news and how it plays such an important role in our lives, and general consultancy to media organizations, it is all based on a lifetime of successful experience in the media world.
Starting as a cub sports reporter for his local weekly newspaper, Mr. Stone graduated to the local daily newspaper, then, after university, to a metropolitan newspaper, and then to the news agencies. At United Press International he was a foreign correspondent before “selling out” to the business side, and later for 14 years with Reuters, he was active in producing new news and television products for the financial and media markets. He left Reuters as its Managing Director, Reuters Media, for Europe, Middle East and Africa.
Among his Reuters accomplishments:
Ø He devised the strategy that made news pictures a profitable business in Europe.
Ø He introduced the news graphics service.
Ø He led the team that introduced sportsweb.com, a very successful online media sports site which Reuters sold some two years after its debut at a handsome profit.
Ø Even when the new media bubble burst his team still saw a 40% + annual increase in its new media business.
Ø As new media and old media business contracted his team still managed double-digit year-on-year contribution increases.
Ø He was commercial director of Reuters Television News.
Ø He was on the team that introduced Reuters Financial Television, a financial television news service delivered to dealer screens.
Ø He was on the team that introduced News 2000, the real-time news service Reuters provides its financial clients.
Ø He introduced Reuters Business Briefing into EMEA. It is now a part of Factiva.
Ø And although purely subjective, his proudest accomplishment was developing the team spirit, the “esprit de corps” among his far-flung media team – something which several senior managers said they had not seen replicated to that extent elsewhere in the company.
As time allows, Mr. Stone personally handles the sales training/motivation training/and problem solving sessions, public speaking engagements, and some consultancy. Associates he has worked with over the years who have great expertise in their particular niche are called upon as necessary.
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