Combining print, online forces

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John Blanchard joined Reed Business Information 10 years ago as a prepress manager. He's now VP-operations and oversees a staff of about 170 people. MB: What's the thought process behind your current efforts to combine print and online production staffs? Blanchard: As we continue to see small but steady declines in print ad pages and growth in online revenue and opportunities, we need to take our great employees with transferable skills and great acumen and transition them to e-business support. We had three separate production groups: e-newsletter production and deployment teams; Web operations groups responsible for managing inventory sales and online ad campaign management; and print production groups. Combining them under experienced management made sense. MB: What are some of the plusses? Blanchard: This is a move toward minimizing the points of contact for both customers and internal business contacts. The first step has been to reduce the number of production departments and to combine the newsletter production group with the Web operations group. We now have e-production staff that support all e-business revenue for brands and organized to support verticals. In addition, we've experimented with combining the e-production and print production, and this has also been successful in pilot. MB: So what's next? Blanchard: We're now looking to expand this program to include all production, but we need to make sure that everyone can keep up with training and expectations. —M.J.M.
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