Corner Office: Why & How Penton Pivoted to Information Services
Last fall, Penton launched new branding and a revamped website. But this wasn't your typical slap-a-new-coat-of-paint-on-it rebranding. Rather it was a new outward identity to reflect Penton's reinvention as an information services business. As many legacy publishers have done or are trying to do these days, Penton has made the transition from a traditional publishing company to something other. The information services tag is meant to indicate Penton's broader, multi-platform market offering, where "media" or "publishing" is part of the greater whole.
Evidence of this reinvention is apparent in the company's revenue shift. Events now account for the largest share of Penton's total revenue, which exceeded $360 million in 2013. Marketing services is growing 20% per year and Penton expects digital business to exceed print in 2015. Penton has also made several key acquisitions to bolster its core verticals, delved deeper into the marketing funnel with its market services business, and positioned data as a strategic asset for growing all businesses. It has also recruited talent to implement these changes, bringing in several key executives to advance marketing, data, digital, and content.
Kate Spellman, senior vice president of marketing, has been instrumental in advancing change at Penton. Spellman joined Penton two years ago-a year after Penton CEO David Kieselstein came aboard to redirect the company-and she has had a central view of the dramatic changes the company has undertaken. And despite much internal wrangling, Penton's transformation has largely been guided by the evolution of its outward view of its audiences. A more nuanced comprehension of its audience has emerged. "The big change for us, as a company, was starting to really understand the habits of our users, and our consumers. What are they doing at what time of day? Where can we reach them and on what device? Really kind of getting into the rhythm of our user."
Denis Wilson is editor-in-chief of Book Business and Publishing Executive. In this role, he analyzes and reports on the fundamental changes affecting the publishing industry and aims to serve content-driven businesses with practical and strategic insight. As a writer, Denis’ work has been published by Fast Company, Rolling Stone, Fortune, and The New York Times.