PPA chief Barry McIlheney reminds us 'form is temporary, class is permanent'

Barry McIlheney: the PPA chief
Barry McIlheney: the PPA chief

It's not exactly the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, but today's ABC Day does mark something of a milestone over at the magazine body PPA, says chief executive Barry McIlheney.

For one thing, I am five years into the job on this very day, so thank you all for the champagne and cake.

More importantly perhaps, this is the last ABC Day before we publicly announce the proper name and other exciting developments around Project Orange, the brand new magazine media marketing agency headed up by the irrepressible Sue Todd.

This is but the latest in a number of changes since I first took this job in February 2010. Back then I was running the print-based Periodical Publishers Association based in its old home in Holborn, where it had been for the previous 72 years.

Now it's the multi-platform Professional Publishers Association based in our new open-plan offices in groovy Blackfriars.

Then it was a traditional trade body getting ready for its annual conference in a West End hotel, now it's a modern membership network looking forward to its annual festival in an underground car park.

These changes have been more, however, than just to do with name, location, and tone. Our entire industry seems to now be in a constant state of change, where disruption is the norm, and endless innovation the only valid response.

And on ABC Day, the very issue of industry metrics once again comes under the spotlight, with the PPA working closely with its newspaper and advertising agency brethren in order to secure that this ever-changing landscape has the metrics it needs and deserves, from both the ABC and of course the NRS, currently going through some seismic changes of its own.

We should celebrate the remarkable innovation that magazine media brands are displaying in the face of the greatest revolution since Mr Gutenberg first invented his printing press

The other very welcome change closer to home has been the growth in PPA membership over these past few years, with companies as diverse as Bloomberg and Redwood both joining in the last few weeks alone.

Nobody can deny that we are in a challenging environment right now, and some of today's ABC figures will no doubt show that challenge in full effect.

At such times, however, the human instinct is thankfully to pull together, to look to each other for mutual support and guidance, and to help each other through this extraordinary journey we are all currently embarked upon.

Even the PPA and the AOP, once not exactly bedfellows, are now coming together to present an exclusive joint forum on smart data next Wednesday at the RBS. I very much hope that this is but the first in a whole series of collaborations to come.

The great Bill Shankly once famously said that form is temporary, class is permanent.

Today of all days, rather than getting lost in the detail of this or that title's latest percentage rise or fall, we should instead celebrate the remarkable innovation that magazine media brands are displaying in the face of the greatest revolution since Mr Gutenberg first invented his printing press a mere 600 years ago.

Barry McIlheney is the chief executive of the PPA

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