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Company confirms consolidation move

Gannettoid.com | news@gannettoid.com | Posted: Sept. 2, 2009 • Special report

With a note to publishers Wednesday morning, Gannett finally confirmed it will consolidate its advertising production to centers in Des Moines and Indianapolis.

The company had been declining to discuss the move since it was first mentioned in a report one week before taking place Aug. 10-11 in Des Moines.

Publishers were sent details on the regional ad building centers in an e-mail from Bob Dickey, Gannett's president of the newspaper division, that said, "Our plans to create centralized advertising production centers in Des Moines and Indianapolis have progressed to the point where we wanted to update you and your employees."

The e-mail, obtained by Gannettoid.com and included at the bottom of this page, included a release for newspapers to share with employees, a Q&A document for employees and a more detailed note on the project from Austin Ryan, Gannett's vice president of production, that Dickey said, "I request that you limit distribution of Austin’s letter to only your operating committee members."

Dickey told publishers there were still issues to be worked out on this project, "but I felt it was important to communicate the overall concept."

Gannett, which has significantly reduced payroll with layoffs, including a round of at least 2,200 employees in December 2008 and its current round of at least 1,400, publicly tried to highlight two positives of this consolidation — the addition of jobs in Des Moines and Indianapolis.

Just moments after Gannettoid.com sent an e-mail to Michael Kane, publisher of The Indianapolis Star, asking how many employees may be added to the site because of this move, the paper posted a story on its Web site saying it "will initially employ 30 people early next year, with a potential expansion to 100."

The next paper with the announcement online was The Des Moines Register, saying the move will create 91 jobs in Des Moines.

Overall, the company will again eliminate jobs. The Q&A confirmed there will be layoffs, saying "While there will be staff reductions at our newspaper operations, retention considerations will be addressed as each operating unit is notified and the roll out period begins at that unit."

No number was included, but a Gannett business plan from October 2008 proposing the consolidation move estimated 750 jobs could be eliminated. That estimate was compiled before the recent layoff rounds and could be fewer now.

Ryan noted the company is working on "retention plans for staff as this project will take numerous months to roll out and it will be important to retain staff during this time and reward them for their efforts." Ryan did not say if that meant employees who stayed through a certain date would be eligible for a bonus or just unemployment benefits.

Since Gannett held its meeting in Des Moines, other media companies have either announced they will be consolidating ad production or have begun forming plans. According to the Q&A and Ryan's letter, the ad centers are expected to be running by November, with Des Moines and Iowa City being the first sites to go live and the Indiana group of newspapers following. Larger sites would follow beginning in February 2010 with a goal to have all sites converted by the first half of 2011.

Rollout schedules are still being developed, the notes said.

Ryan's note said the company has "signed an enterprise-wide agreement with DPS for a consolidated ad tracking system - DPS Ad Tracker." He went on to explain DPS is currently used at 60 sites, while 15 sites use other vendors and the rest have no ad tracking system.

Ryan called DPS "an industry leader in ad tracking" and said the company "has been a very important business partner to Gannett for several years." On its Web site, DPS calls itself the "proven world leader in advertising production and tracking solutions."


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Here's the e-mail from Dickey:

From: Stephansky, Cristen On Behalf Of Dickey, Robert
Sent: Wednesday, September 02, 2009 11:36 AM
Subject: Ad consolidation announcement

Our plans to create centralized advertising production centers in Des Moines and Indianapolis have progressed to the point where we wanted to update you and your employees. Attached you will find a letter from Austin Ryan that outlines the program. There remain some open issues, but I felt it was important to communicate the overall concept. I request that you limit distribution of Austin’s letter to only your operating committee members. We are providing two additional attachments you can use to communicate with your employees, as you deem necessary. The Q & A document should address most questions and feel free to use the Intranet statement to update your employees. The Q & A and Intranet documents will be posted on the Gannett Intranet Thursday at 3pm Eastern, and our employees will have access to that information. If you have any questions please let me know. Thanks.



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