As Gannett’s brand morphs, print still top of mind

April 16, 2012

Gannett's Detroit newspapers


For a handful of years now,  several newspaper companies have attempted to re-brand themselves into something — anything! — that doesn’t associate them with newspapers. Gannett is one of the latest examples trying to put some distance between itself and the industry despite the fact that it is still the largest newspaper chain by circulation in the U.S.,  it still derives the heft of its revenue from ink on paper, and it still is  a bellwether for other companies that count big iron as an asset.

The USA Today publisher  trips all over itself with its description.  Here is part of the boiler plate the publisher and broadcaster uses:

“Gannett Co., Inc. is an international media and marketing solutions company that informs and engages more than 100 million people every month through its powerful network of broadcast, digital, mobile and publishing properties.”

The Street isn’t buying it at least today.  Shares of Gannett fell about 9 percent so far after the company announced its Q1 results. It’s EPS beat Wall Street’s view by a long-shot. Its revenue was pretty much in line with expectations. So what gives? It’s the company’s  slide in advertising revenue, specifically at its publishing division where it declined a little more than 8 percent, that accounts for the beating.

In fairness, Gannett’s CEO Gracia Martore said it is going to take some time for the company to start reaping results from the plan it rolled out to investors in February that included a pay model at its newspaper properties. On a call with analysts this morning about Gannett’s results, Martore said Gannett is “working to stabilize our Publishing business,”  but that  the effort is not a ” quick fix.”

“This isn’t a one- or two-quarter solution. Rather, it is a continuous effort which is going to begin to show results later this year,” she said.


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