Penton embarks on major reorganization

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Penton Media is starting the new year off with a splash.

The company, which was acquired in late 2006 by Prism Media for $530 million, with Prism adopting the Penton name, recently announced several organizational changes designed to streamline its operations and offer customers more choices as to where to put their marketing dollars.

Foremost among the changes is Darrell Denny’s promotion to the newly created position of chief revenue officer from exec VP. Denny will work closely with Penton’s product group heads to create new revenue streams.

“B-to-b media companies have talked about playing a consultative role and giving customers more choices,” Denny said. “We’re now in an era where the reality is catching up to the rhetoric.”

Fred Linder, formerly president of Penton’s New Hope Media Group, has been promoted to senior VP and will lead an expanded product group that will include all Penton trade shows and conferences. Alan Peterson, current head of New Hope Events, will be in charge of event management. Among the new events the division will handle is the Healthy Foods International Show June 18-19 in Dallas.

Other changes at Penton include the creation of a new Agricultural & Food Group, combining trade titles such as Supermarket News with Beef and National Hog Farmer. Dan Bagan, publisher of Supermarket News, has been promoted to the newly created position of senior VP and will oversee the group. He will also be responsible for Penton’s electrical, baking, printing and restaurant titles as well as Fire Chief.

Penton is also forming a Technology Media Group. Kim Paulsen, who had been group publisher of Penton’s Windows IT Pro Group, has been promoted to senior VP and will take on responsibility for all of Penton’s technology-related titles, including Sound & Video Contractor, Telephony and Mobile Radio Technology.

“We want to do customizing for vendors,” Paulsen said. “We’re not trying to sell what’s in our bag but create programs that are going to meet customers’ needs.”

Paulsen added that the Windows IT Pro Group might serve as a model for the group. For example, the Microsoft SharePoint virtual event that Penton hosted last October had 2,903 registrants with 2,375 attendees (an 81% conversion rate), while each vendor had an average of 540 attendees in its booth, Paulsen said. “It’s likely transferable across the technology group,” she said.

Denny added that Penton later this year is planning to introduce a new technology product in print, in person and online, but declined to provide specifics.

Kevin Arsham, trade media director of ad agency OMD, had a mixed opinion regarding Penton’s reorganization. “The upside is that [Penton] is being very proactive about integrating its properties,” said Arsham, who is also vice chairman of American Business Media’s Advisory Board and chairman of the American Association of Advertising Agencies’ Business to Business Committee. “The worry is that there might be a loss of personal service for the various industries Penton targets.”

Arsham added that he is also concerned about fragmentation. “How do you run Supermarket News along with Fire Chief?” he asked.

Countered Denny: “We have a model that’s agnostic on where the buyer wants to spend the money.”

As part of the reorganization, Penton is also expanding its Financial Services, Marketing Media and Custom Group to include its public service titles and the Transportation, Aviation and Information Data Products Group to include its trailer publications based in Houston.

Penton will soon announce details of a reorganization of its New Media Group.

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