Cygnus' Martin eliminates his position, finds his way back

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Mike Martin helped guide Cygnus Business Media through a 2009 bankruptcy filing and the development of a new organizational structure. Then the company president made the case to eliminate his own position.

“I had a discussion with one of the consultants, and I said, "We can flatten the organization. There may not be a need for a president,' ” Martin said.

The result: Martin exchanged oversight of more than 100 media properties for the opportunity to play a more hands-on role in the development and management of the company's public safety and security affinity group. He now stands as exec VP of the group, the largest integrated vertical to come out of the restructuring process.

“With the affinity group structure, we have a much flatter organization and at the same time one that will be absolutely market-focused, audience-focused and with the ability to move a lot more quickly,” Martin said. “We eliminated different lines of reporting that got in the way of substantive discussion.”

His new charge includes eight magazines, four Web portals and several trade shows and conferences, all with a combined monthly audience of about 1.5 million, according to the company.

The transition comes as Cygnus works to develop a nimble infrastructure that will allow it to rapidly respond to marketplace demands, better positioning the company to discover and develop new opportunities and grow its audience.

Digital products promise to be a strong area of growth for the vertical, Martin said. The company has started rolling out redesigned websites that draw from a centralized content management system. “It's going to give us a lot of flexibility in terms of work flow and the speed of posting various types of content,” Martin said. The new designs will provide a user-friendly interface for an increasingly mobile audience and also will facilitate interaction with such social media sites as Facebook and Twitter.

The vertical will also benefit from a new relationship with an outside database management company, which is working to combine audience information collected via print, digital and events assets. “We're merging all of that so we have a multidimensional feel of our audience segments,” Martin said.

That insight will lead to the creation of new products, particularly e-newsletters, he said, and also will provide increased opportunity and intelligence to help connect marketers to target audiences.

Martin also expects events in the vertical to grow. The success of a webinar that attracted members of both law enforcement and also security products communities reinforces the idea of vertical integration and led to a decision to introduce two related face-to-face events this year, Martin said.

The teams working within the affinity group are beginning to look at the market differently, he said.

“We are kicking a lot of ideas around,” he said. “When you look at where we were 18 months or so ago, people are excited today about the way we approach the business. We are building a whole new organization.”

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