Are Your Priorities Straight?
Beginning in 2004, Putman overhauled its online presence, launching a range of digital products, including
19 e-newsletters, and by the end of 2005 had recorded triple-digit increases in revenue, site traffic and newsletter subscriptions. This rate of growth has been more than enough to feed internal enthusiasm for what Cappelletti terms a “culture of innovation.”
Ascend Media “had all the classic transition challenges” related to moving aggressively into online space, Lannon notes. “We had skill sets tailored to a particular type of publishing business—sales, content, audience development, operations and management,” he says of the company as it existed a few years ago. “That had to be adapted to the digital revolution. We chose to use our existing assets—brands, people, systems—and make a transition by layering new skill sets onto the foundation set, so our audience development people were from circulation, for instance. That’s an ongoing process, obviously, and is an ongoing challenge. I don’t think that’s very different from the challenge most or all traditional publishers of all sizes and types have faced in the last decade or more.”
In making this transition, the commitment of senior management has been critical.
“There’s been no division among the management team about prioritizing integrated media,” Lannon stresses. “In that sense [the transition has been] simple. We need to understand new features and … make investments, and then train and support them. The key to all of that is having senior management that is committed to that process.”
The company, which focuses on the medical and health care industries, recently expanded its allied health care division to encompass 14 small- to medium-sized publications. While the division has moved aggressively into the integrated market through podcasts, e-newsletters and sponsored webinars, such growth has not yet required the hiring of multimedia specialists. “We’re comfortable with the people we have now,” Lannon says. “We have fairly small staffs, and we need people who understand why they’re being asked to do different things.”