The Value of Tradition
Our last corporate visit was this afternoon at El Mercurio. It was incredibly different than this morning at Terra, from the physical facilities to the overall company culture. After going through security, we entered what looked more like a college campus than a newspaper company. We finally met our two hosts: Señor Robert Massiff, Vice President of Sales for El Mercurio, and Señor Jose Louis, an Executive Editor at the newspaper. They made the presentation very interesting due to their obvious knowledge and passion for the company.
El Mercurio is the oldest Spanish newspaper still running and has managed to remain the leader in both sales and circulation. It is renowned as the most influential paper in Chile. The differentiator, and competitive advantage, between El Mercurio and its competitors is the newspaper’s traditions and strong leadership. This surprised our group. Wasn’t newspaper a dying medium because the younger generations don’t appreciate many of these “traditions?” Apparently many Latin American countries, including Chile, are not plagued by the downturn in newspaper usage like the United States struggles with. In fact, part of El Mercurio’s success is due to the man, Senor Agustin Edwards Eastman, behind the paper. In Chile, people want to know who is behind the company. Since Chileans place such great importance on the family unit, they favor this family run business and its respected name. As a result, El Mercurio has an influence many other newspapers lack.
The strong leadership of Senor Edwards also positively impacts employee performance. We could hear it in their voices as Senor Massiff and Senor Jose Louis spoke about El Mercurio: they exude passionate for this company. Moreover, they greatly respect Senor Edwards for his intelligence, undeniable industry experience and deep understanding of the El Mercurio brand. Having the trust and respect of both its readers and employees provides El Mercurio a sustainable competitive advantage that will prove hard to match.
Before leaving, we had the unique opportunity to tour El Mercurio's printing and operations facilities. We had no idea how much high tech machinery was required to produce a newspaper, or hundreds of thousands for that matter. Overall, our group gained broad knowledge about the telecommunication industry in today's corporate visits.