Anatomy of Today's Successful Publisher
Canon Communications—Chairman and CEO Charles G. McCurdy is quick to point out—is not immune to the current economic environment. However, double-digit revenue growth in recent years, strong penetration in recession-resilient industries, and well-defined business strategies in print, digital and events have helped the Los Angeles, Calif.-based business-to-business media company weather an often-debilitating economic storm.
Canon, which is owned by Apprise Media, publishes 16 trade magazines and produces a number of related conferences and expositions that serve industries such as packaging, plastics and medical manufacturing and design. Its titles include Medical Device & Diagnostic Industry, Cosmetic + Personal Care Packaging and Modern Plastics Worldwide.
Last summer, when Canon budgeted for fiscal year 2009 (which began in November 2008), it anticipated “an 11-percent organic revenue increase,” says McCurdy—a reasonable calculation, one would assume, in light of the company’s growth in previous years. In FY2008, revenues increased 23 percent over FY2007.
“By the end of the  calendar year, it became clear that we weren’t going to be seeing that kind of growth [in FY2009],” says McCurdy. “The reality of the impact of the economic downturn is [now] a lot clearer to all of us than it was previously. We’re going to be tracking down in the mid-single digits overall for this fiscal year.”
With that image of the economic impact becoming more clear, Canon set out to do some belt-tightening. With its printer contract up for renewal, the company renegotiated the contract at a lower rate. Also, “we have, selectively, in areas we’ve seen very healthy growth and online reach through Web sites and outbound e-newsletters, been able to implement print circulation reductions, often substituting some print distribution with digital editions,” he says.
Canon also trimmed its workforce in February by 10 percent, or about 30 employees.