John F. Kennedy first uttered the popular phrase, “a rising tide floats all boats” when arguing for government investment in the economy because it would benefit everyone. Years later, Warren Buffett added an addendum: “A rising tide floats all boats… only when the tide goes out do you discover who’s been swimming naked.”
During the pandemic, we saw a glut of advertising demand with many media companies having some of their best days. I’ve spoken to many smaller media company operators that thought they had cracked some secret code for their success. But when the ad markets contracted, they found that they were not well positioned to react. They had been swimming naked, benefiting far more from the tide than their own operational excellence.