August 30, 2010

Eye On Recruiting, Michele S. Magazine


While leadership changes have recently taken place at the top of four of the major magazine media companies, there are some less dramatic staffing changes taking place that show how a few smart moves can help a company run more efficiently and productively.

We can see an example of this at Bonnier Corp. as it continues to build its magazine brands, and the recent organizational changes at Working Mother and Parenting/Babytalk (acquired in 2008 and 2007, respectively) are a good example. Group publishers Joan Sheridan and Greg Schumann put their collaborative heads together and made some smart staffing moves to answer the question, “How do you allocate your manpower to grow the business?”

While the teams operate separately from one another, they found that they can take advantage of each other’s core strengths and run a leaner yet more productive staff. They began looking at where there was overlap with sellers, and where there was opportunity not being capitalized on. Then, they looked at ways to improve on the organizational structure.

Both groups have “moms” in common. However, their revenue models are different. Joan’s group has four businesses: Working Mother magazine revenue (print and digital), a robust global conference and events business, ownership of two national women’s membership associations, and a burgeoning custom research division with corporate advertising and sponsorship at its core. For Greg’s part, The Parenting Group has multiple magazines and Web sites at its core: Parenting Early Years, Parenting School Years, Babytalk,, and October 2009 acquisition Conceive magazine. His staff is fully print/Web integrated and is focused on brand extensions across all platforms.

When Joan and Greg began collaborating, they realized that business and clients would be better served by their respective staff specialists selling their “expertise.” Joan’s group would capitalize on a substantial growth opportunity in their global conference business and custom research division and continue to sell integrated packages (corporate advertising) wrapped around conferences and special issues for both groups. Greg’s consumer ad sales executives would now sell across both divisions and across all platforms.

With these changes in staff, one team is now focused on bringing consumer advertisers across platform for both groups of “moms,” and the other is focused on developing corporate business through the conference and research businesses across and identifying new business opportunities for both divisions.

They both agreed that the company understood the benefit of redeploying staff and fully supported their recommendations. While head count was trimmed between the two groups, productivity increased.

How has the staff accepted increased responsibility? The transition was smoother than expected. The big key was bringing the two staffs together and explaining the new strategy and the reasons behind their decisions.

My Own Two Cents
All the significant new leadership changes aside, smaller steps are effective in beginning to develop a business model that works in today’s market. A number of magazine brands are taking these types of organizational steps, which, as evidenced by Joan’s and Greg’s collaboration, indeed increase productivity and reduce cost.

How about that!