Gearing up for the future – Patrick Brennan on building a multi-platform approach at Mongoose Media

You joined Mongoose Media in October last year as director of business development. It’s only nine months later and you have moved into the proverbial ‘hot seat’. Can you give us some background on your initial experience at Mongoose and what you have learned to lead to your rapid progression within the group? 

My initial business development role at Mongoose gave me the opportunity to delve into every aspect of the business, learn more about the markets we serve and familiarise myself with the brands in our portfolio. Having spent my entire career in media working at some of the best organisations in the business, I have gained experience across the breadth of the media landscape, most notably by having a front row seat and leading businesses transitioning from a print-centric to a digitally forward focused business model. I have been able to use that experience and the insights since joining the company to help formulate Mongoose’s future business strategy. Graham Paling, Mongoose’s founder and executive chairman, agreed with the strategy and felt that I am the right person to lead its delivery.

It’s understood that your task now is to ensure that Mongoose Media is fully prepared for the challenges ahead as well as to boost the business by taking advantage of opportunities. Can you share some insights into where the company is heading under your leadership?

Mongoose wisely positioned itself for the transition from print to digital a few years ago. Under my leadership expect to see an even greater focus on digital and the launching of new digital initiatives for our audiences and advertisers. We are already much more active commercially and on social media than we were even just a few months ago and we will continue to aggressively build on this. We are going to further expand our events business and build on some of our already successful events such as the Men’s Health/Women’s Health Night Run series, which this year will attract over 33,000 runners over three races in Malaysia. We are expanding our content marketing business and building our in-house video capabilities across both Malaysia and Singapore. There will also be greater cooperation between the brands in our portfolio and between the Singapore and Malaysia offices.

Can you identify the areas where you expect to see the greatest opportunities, as well as  challenges?

I still believe there is upside in print growth in our core markets of Malaysia and Singapore, especially for the market segments in which we operate i.e. beauty, fashion, lifestyle, wellness, health and entertainment. However, I am a realist and recognise that the transition from print to digital is accelerating and while the company very smartly began the process of transition early on, you can expect that this process will accelerate at Mongoose. We are actively building our multi-platform approach that includes new digital offerings aimed at delivering value to our audiences and commercial clients. We are building our in-house content marketing business in both Malaysia and Singapore and see this as a tremendous opportunity. Given our editorial expertise and the audiences we have built, we feel we are uniquely placed to provide compelling and engaging content. Allied to this, we see opportunities around video both editorially and commercially and have recently invested in an in-house team to manage this.

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You have ample experience working around the globe. Can you identify unique opportunities in Asia?

There are a few things that set Asia and specifically Southeast Asia apart at this moment in our history. The most significant of course is the incredibly fast changing demographics of the region. This is a young, digitally savvy, mobile using, smart and ambitious region and these qualities bring both extraordinary opportunities and some very interesting challenges for media businesses and our clients. Another key factor is that unlike what happened with digital development in Europe and the Americas over the past 20 years, we in Asia can look at what worked and what didn’t work and can avoid many of the missteps that have been made along the way. We are able to cherry pick the best of those ideas and bypass those that didn’t work while we develop new and exciting technologies of our own. This means things move very quickly in this region, as do our audiences, which puts added pressure on media businesses and on our clients so we need to be agile, flexible, smart and quick.

On several occasions you have mentioned how impressed you are with Mongoose Media’s world-class portfolio as well as its talented team. Can you elaborate on the scope of your titles, why some of them are so successful and how your team’s collaboration adds to growth?

The Mongoose portfolio has been deliberately and carefully curated and if you look at the market segments that generate the highest audience engagement and growing advertising revenues, you will see that Mongoose is positioned with market-leading brands in each of those segments. ELLE Malaysia for example has grown its digital audience by 200 per cent in the past year alone by understanding their audience and catering to their wants. Similarly, Time Out in both Singapore and Malaysia trebled their digital audiences in the past year and having just refreshed the print editions and websites of Esquire in Malaysia and Singapore we are seeing an upsurge in both traffic and advertising. None of this would be possible without the Mongoose editorial, commercial and digital teams. Over the past few months we have strengthened the management team and have brought in some significant editorial, sales, digital and marketing talent and we are continuing to look for the best and brightest. It is a pleasure to work with people of this caliber who astound me every day with their creativity, knowledge and ideas. 

You have mentioned that your appointment has energised you more than ever. Do you have a personal philosophy in how to spread that energy throughout the business and boost the performance of your team?

It’s no secret, at least for those who know me well, that I get a tremendous charge by being around people who are positive, unafraid to push the boundaries and try new things. My personal philosophy is simple: love what you do, surround yourself with people who feel the same way and support the heck out of them!

Focusing on specifics – can we expect to see any new titles, developments or expansions in the near future? 

While I never say never I think it’s unlikely that we will launch any new print titles, but we are always open to opportunities and if the right opportunity comes along, we will certainly give it a long, hard look. We are exploring a couple of very interesting digital opportunities at the moment and my goal is to bring them to market in 2017.

Meet Patrick at FIPP Asia, on 27-28 September in Singapore, or follow him on Twitter.

About Patrick Brennan

Patrick boasts 30 years’ experience in the media business and brings extensive digital and print knowledge to the Mongoose stable. His international experience includes five years in Tokyo as regional director for the Financial Times as well as VP business development at CMP Media where he principally focused on China and India, and as vice president business development Asia-Pacific and Latin America at Hearst Magazines International. At Mongoose, Patrick brings his expertise across all sectors of the business to formulate strategy and lead the management team to ensure that audience engagement, revenues and profits are maximized across all platforms and brands.

Mongoose Media is a member of FIPP.

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