I'm going to try to resist the urge to summarize the following. Just read it.
It's from Alex Taylor, the new young go-getter publisher at the Palm Beach Post (who, completely coincidentally, is also the nephew of Cox Publishing owner James Cox Kennedy). Interesting, Taylor calls the Sun-Sentinel a "former competitor" that the Post wants to partner up with more. He doesn't tell the staff that this is being done to cut more costs -- and jobs.
But it's not about journalists anymore, or journalism. It's all about customers and revenues. And if you give it all you got for the corporate line, you might get a "high five" from Taylor -- a $500 check!
I have to say, when it comes to corporate memos from our daily newspapers, none are more nauseating than the ones that come from the Palm Beach Post. Now look at me. I said I wasn't going to summarize. I'm sure some of you can sum up this thing better than I can, anyway. And I'm jumping it because it goes on a little long.
With a full first month now under my belt I'm going to have to get a bigger belt! There's a lot to digest and think about, but I still have alot of thoughts about our situaton going forward. The good news is I can see the future and we're still there. There is a way forward and we're still a successful business and a prominent part of this community.
Honestly, the work you all put forward every day is such an importantpart of this community. Without it, what else would hold the community together? We are the primary medium by which information is exchangedand distributed and we will continue to be. The challenge is the changeand adaptation we'll have to go through in the months and years ahead.
We are going to have to start doing new things and stop doing old things. The senior management committee is currently discussing ways to do that and you will all be engaged in that process in the coming months. A very wise man whom I once worked for - Scott Whiteside (who is currently at AutoTrader.com) - once told me that change is a simple equation:
"Current Thinking leads to Current Actions which lead to Current Results"
To change our destiny, we need Different Thinking which will lead to Different Actions and Different Results.
Simple but profound. We are going to have to break out of the mindset that we are a traditional newspaper company. Traditional newspaper companies are tall, military-like in structure and very inflexible. We are going to embrace a new future where we are the leading 21st century media company in this market. We will have to be flexible, nimble and open to new ideas and thinking. We will not lose our editorial integrity, but we will listen to and focus on our customers and employees like
To that end, I have two orders of business to address. First, you shouldall know we have engaged Magid Research to go out and ask our advertisers and readers lots of questions. We are currently listening to their answers and some prevalent themes are emerging. For one, no one out there knows what's going on. They've heard about lay-offs, they've seen changes, are we owned by a different company? Etc. etc. The last couple of years have muddied the waters and confused things rather than clarified things for our customers. To solve this we need to all understand the big picture and have our "elevator speech" clarified. If someone hopped on the elevator and said "Hey, lot's of changes at thePost. What's going on?" What would you say? Hopefully something to put everything in perspective. We discussed the appropriate speech and came up with the following:
"We, like most businesses, are going through the most challenging time in recent memory. Our world is changing rapidly, and so are we. Our goal is to move the business beyond just the traditional newspaper. We're investing in multiple digital initiatives and trying to focus on our customers like never before. During this time, it's important to remember:
- We're still the largest media company in this market by far.
- We have had layoffs in some areas, but we're also creating new jobs in online and elsewhere.
- We're finding creative ways to partner with our former competitors -- like the Sun-Sentinel -- to be more efficient, adaptable and embracean exciting, more digital future."
Those are the facts. It's not rocket science, but it does help put things in perspective and lessen the confusion. We're going to distribute these concepts in different ways internally and in the market; but it would help if you all took personal ownership in communicating this to the people you know and to your co-workers when things get confusing. Times are challenging, but we're still bigger than all of our competitors in tv and radio combined and we're not sitting still. We're changing rapidly and I greatly appreciate all of your hard work and commitment.
That takes me to the second and final (for now) order of business I mentioned. Our success depends on you - our employees. Our world is demanding a lot from each and every one of us and I want to reward those of you who go above and beyond to help us succeed. So, I'm inaugurating what I call the Publisher's High Five which is $500 cash to one person every month who exemplifies the type of person we want to recognize. At the end of every month your department heads and I will discuss those of you who really went beyond the normal level of performance. What I will be looking for are extraordinary success stories, risk takers, people who think of new ways of doing things that have a significant affect on revenues, expenses or audience development.
This month's winner had a significant affect on all three. Jeff Sterling. Jeff is a traffic manager in the digital department, but put in a huge amount of extra hours to help us launch APT over the last several months. This was a major undertaking to get all the digital nuts and bolts aligned properly. He worked with virtualy
Thank you Jeff. You have a check coming your way this week along with a High Five from me.
This is a lot of information, but things will be coming into clearer focus in the weeks ahead. For now, I hope this elevator speech and additional employee recognition is a step in the right direction. Let me know what you're thinking and keep up all the hard work. Thank you,
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The Palm Beach Post
2751 South Dixie Highway
West Palm Beach, FL 33405