ABM's Hughes sees fourth-quarter 2002 rebound for b-to-b publishers (First in a series of executive outlooks)

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Despite the recession and the grim advertising market, American Business Media President-CEO Gordon T. Hughes II sees near-term opportunities for aggressive b-to-b publishers and the start of a turnaround in next year's fourth quarter. In a recent interview with BtoB, Hughes said publishers should take advantage of the bleak environment by evaluating and building staff. He also recommended that publishing company CEOs get out and sell. BtoB: When will b-to-b publishers exit this recession? Hughes: A rebound will probably fourth quarter in '02. We see a very tough first half of the year. We see a little improvement in the third quarter, falling under the third quarter performance of this year. We see the fourth quarter with some light at the end of the tunnel, maybe somewhere up 3% or 4% over this fourth quarter. BtoB: What recession strategy would you recommend for b-to-b publishers? Hughes: One idea at our recent management meeting in Chicago was just having the CEO go out and make sales calls. It lets the client and agency show they care about business. They might not get business, but they will remember who came in their door when business turns around. BtoB: For b-to-b publishers, what good is coming out of this recession? Hughes: If there is an opportunity, it's a time to really pick up good people for your staff. It is a time when there are some heavy HR issues. Benefits are being looked at; [companies are] asking people to help out more with benefits than in the past. 401 (k) contributions are down. All job descriptions are being reviewed and looked at hard, and rightfully so. Often it's the case that one good person can do more than three people who are just OK, and that principle is being looked at. --Senior reporter Philip B. Clark conducted this interview.
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