Laura Lang had a first-ever meeting Thursday with all of Time Inc.’s publishers, who have been antsy while they await news of the new CEO’s plans for Time Warner’s publishing unit.
Lang, who's been on the job since January but has kept a low profile, didn't have much detail to share but seemed to want to reassure the group that her senior team was working away. “It was more [to be] reassuring that [the company] was being aggressive, and decisions would be revealed this fall,” said one attendee.
During a Q&A portion of the meeting, Lang was asked if she were considering selling the Lifestyle Group, which includes titles like Southern Living, Real Simple and This Old House and which has for years been seen as a sale target. Lang reportedly said the option hadn't come up in meetings, leaving room for speculation that the notion wasn't ruled out entirely.
To another question about her position on church-state issues, Lang said she didn't want to erode the company's editorial integrity, adding, according to an attendee, "We don't create content for advertisers." She also emphasized the importance of getting more money from consumers for Time Inc.'s content and leveraging that content more widely across platforms.
Thursday's gathering, in the Time Inc. boardroom, followed a similar meeting last week with the company’s top editors.
The publisher of Time, People and Sports Illustrated has struggled with declines in its traditional business; in the first quarter of 2012, revenue declined 5 percent. Lang brought in Bain & Co. to do a three-month review and is said to be huddling often with senior managers like chief revenue officer Paul Caine, David Geithner and Howard Averill to review Bain's recommendations.
As for what she'll do next, Lang, with her background running Digitas, is expected to look for ways to take advantage of hot areas like mobile, video and data mining, but it’s widely expected that layoffs are also going to be part of the plan.