‘Reinvent or we will fail’

“At RBS, today everything is about breaking paradigms. If we don’t break paradigms, we will fail,” said Eduardo Sirotsky Melzer, CEO of RBS, a leading Brazilian regional multimedia publishing group.

by WAN-IFRA Staff | June 4, 2013

Melzer made his declaration, and others, during a Congress session dedicated to “Learning from Innovators.”

RBS has invested in a number of projects in recent years to position itself even moreso as a multimedia leader. All toward reinventing its already successful business.

“There is no one silver bullet that will solve all of our issues in this industry,” Melzer said. “But we must try everything, and at the same time don’t be afraid to fail. I see a lot of conservatism in many of the presentations I have seen at past conferences and even in some here, whereby publishers are clinging to the traditional business model. For RBS, it is clear: We have to completely reinvent or, again, we will fail.”

To do that, he said the company must start by looking outside-in, at its customers to truly find out what they want and need. Secondly, what assets does RBS have that it can leverage, which will in turn help the company to determine what else it will need for its future.


Despite that conservatism he mentioned earlier, print is still a vital part of RBS’ strategy, Melzer said. “This is not rocket science… if you constantly reduce what you have, it will die. Of course there are examples of success where print was drastically reduced and thos companies are thriving… it depends on market to market, company to company. But we love print. It is still growing for us.”

He said RBS’ print circulation grew 7 percent last year and has grown 4 percent so far this year.

“We cannot afford not to invest in print and we are doing locally and by offering quality journalism. And the definition of quality journalism for us is not entirely defined by our newsroom, but from our readers. We listen.”


“Digital is a critical pillar for us. It’s a completely new game and requires a completely new mindset,” Melzer said.

When it comes to digital, Melzer said every publisher should ask three questions: 1) Who can deliver what you need? 2) How can you do it? 3) How much are you willing to invest?

“If you don’t have the answers to these questions, you have a big problem. For example, how many engineers do you have or think you will need to have to deal with digital? Trust me, you need a significant number going forward.”

RBS has a company called Tecnopuc that focuses on digital activities for the group, bringing in specific digital expertise. This has resulted in the creation of a new online classified advertising company, the implementation of paid content strategies for the group, and more.

New revenues

Like most publishers in the world, RBS is diversifying its revenue streams and this includes owning a logistics company that is generating 50 million dollars of revenues annually, focusing on e-commerce, which grew by 60 percent in the past year, as well as offering printing outsourcing.

“Many of these ideas are nothing new, but the ideas are not as critical as the effectiveness of their activities,” Melzer said.

B2C & B2B

A good gauge for assessing how you are dealing with your different customers, he said, is to ask the question of “how are we doing in terms of rate of change within our company, compared to the changes of our customers. You have to adapt quickly today:”

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