Reversing a longstanding practice of maintaining separate print and online sales staffs, Forbes Media is slashing 43 jobs as it makes official a long-anticipated move to mash up its print and online sales and marketing groups.
Forbes Media chairman and CEO Steve Forbes said the changes would enable the company “not only to better weather the current economic storm, but to move ahead quickly and profitably when the global economies begin recovering. These moves will make our company highly competitive in anextremely tough environment.”
Most of the jobs lost came from the business side, with the exception of a few editorial positions that were eliminated as part of the shutown last week of Web vertical ForbesAutos.com and scaling back of ForbesTraveler.com. Forbes also closed its conference business.
Observers have credited the Web/print separation with Forbes.com’s development into a robust digital business, but many media companies have moved to combine print and online sales efforts as advertisers increasingly ask for integrated packages.
“It just doesn’t seem to be viable anymore,” a Forbes spokesperson said of the company’s longstanding practice of separation. “You call on people, and they want to know what the whole package is.”
In the memo Steve Forbes announced that sales and marketing would be divided into three units:
–The Brand Intelligence Group targeting top-level executives of Forbes’ clients, to be led by former Web ad sales head Kevin Gentzel as president, group publisher.
–The Integrated Solutions Group focusing on custom ad packages, run by Mike Woods, president, formerly vp of ad sales.
–The Forbes Media Sales and Service Group, combining regional print and online sales. Avery Stirratt and Robert Pietsch, who came from Forbes’ print and dot-com sides, respectively, will co-lead the group as co-presidents and chief advertising officers.
Underscoring the new integrated approach, the leaders of all three groups will report to a newly created office of the chairman. That office will consist of Steve Forbes; Timothy Forbes, president and COO of Forbes Media; and Jim Spanfeller, president and CEO of Forbes.com. Stirratt and Woods formerly reported to Jim Berrien, who stepped down in August as president, publisher of the company’s magazine group, while Pietsch and Gentzel formerly reported to Spanfeller.
Steve Forbes went on to say that the company would continue to expand efforts to integrate print and Web editorial staffs in early 2009.