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‘This is the time to take bold steps,’ says Gannett president

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World News Publishing Focus
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‘This is the time to take bold steps,’ says Gannett president

One of the largest media and marketing solutions companies in the United States, Gannett, publisher of USA Today, launched a new digital strategy last year to fully leverage its relationships with customers and advertisers.

“For many of us, it’s been a long journey, and I don’t mean the trip to Bangkok,” Dickey said. “In our time, we have travelled far from the printed page into the digital age. … We are there for one reason: We must be.”

While the digital age has changed many things, there are some things that have not changed, Dickey said: “We all share a purpose and that is to connect lives and build communities. We are responsible for a good portion of what people know.”

He said 2012 “was the demarcation line from the Gannett of the past and the Gannett of the future.”

In determining its strategy, Dickey said, “we built on our historic strengths. We are a local company, and we had solid relationships in our local markets. We know our audiences, and we know them well, and we stay in touch with them.”

He noted that many people are familiar with USA Today, the first U.S. general interest daily, which was founded in 1982, but “much of the world still only knows Gannett has the publisher of USA Today, but we are the largest local publishing company in the United States and we are 106 years old. We have 81 newspapers across the USA as well as 23 TV stations. Local journalism is our most important offering,” he said.

Today, Dickey said, Gannett regularly reaches more than 68 million people through desktop and mobile devices. “Digital simply offers a way to connect more people faster and better,” he said.

“We realised that what consumers value is our commitment to our content, not how we deliver it,” he said.

The company created an “All-Access Plan,” charging for digital content across its newspapers (with the exception of USA Today, which remains free online). Gannett’s offer uses the metered model, but Dickey said the number of stories that are freely available as well as the subscription price for digital content vary by market.

Poised for a healthy digital future

To date, he said the company has “met or exceeded every one of our financial – and more importantly, audience goals. … We expect it to contribute more than $100 million to our bottom line.”

He added that advertisers have been onboard with the changes as well. “Our advertisers want to be where our readers are.”

Dickey also stressed the importance of investing in content and journalists. “We invested heavily in giving our journalists the tools they need to tell their stories,” he said.

“We look toward local assets,” he added. “Listening to the consumer is at the heart of that. We visit their homes. We welcome and take action on their comments. The best investment we can make in our content is to invest people in it.”

Circulation and revenue are both growing, Dickey said and Gannett is now “poised for a healthy digital future. … We’ll continue to embrace technology. We expect to be the number-one source for news and information in every market that we serve.”

“We are open to all good ideas,” he added. “We must be open to constant innovation to stay successful.”

The main challenge is to constantly know your audience, Dickey said. “In today’s media world, the consumer must come first. Everything we do supports that,” he said.

Advice to other publishers

Dickey also offered some advice to other publishers based on Gannett’s experiences.

“As you assess how to address your company’s challenges, be bold,” he said. “Do not cling to the old ways of doing business. This is the time to take bold steps, not the time to move forward in increments.”

Find new ways to impact people’s lives, he recommended.

“Ask yourself what are your key strengths? What can you build on? What is your purpose? It takes courage, but there has never been better time to take bold steps into the future,” Dickey said.


Brian Veseling's picture

Brian Veseling


2013-06-03 12:10

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