Zorthian aims to complete a global overview of ‘Financial Times’

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Greg Zorthian's promotion to global circulation director of the Financial Times gives him the type of job that he's been preparing for since he was a child.

The son of a foreign-service officer, Zorthian did a fair amount of globetrotting as a child. Now he is charged with ensuring that the Financial Times gets to its readers, no matter where in the world they may be.

It's a new position at the company and one that will combine circulation with oversight of the Financial Times' 23 plants and four major regional editions.

"It's a very big, broad job that we've never had here before," said Zorthian, who previously was VP-circulation in the U.S. "We are truly a global newspaper and, rather than manage regionally, we need to take an overview globally and ask how does this work together as a global publication.

"A lot of our advertising is global advertising," he added. "This allows us to better market toward our readers' needs as well as our advertisers' needs."

But at the same time, he noted there are intrinsic market differences that he'll have to address. The U.K. market is a retail market, while subscriptions drive the U.S. market. Asia is an emerging market, and Europe looks more like the U.S. market than anything else, he said.

Zorthian's focus is on the print product, and he is looking to expand circulation by offering an e-paper to subscribers whom the company can't reach in a timely fashion. Despite its eight U.S. printing plants, there are 11 states—including Hawaii, Nebraska, Idaho and Alaska—that the Financial Times can't reach with a traditional newspaper. He is also evaluating an e-paper for out-of-the-way business schools. These e-papers also could be offered to subscribers who call to complain they did not receive their newspaper.

Additionally, he plans to rely more on the Internet as a circulation driver; in the U.S., the publisher's online marketing and Web site produce just as many subscriptions as does direct mail. The Financial Times has a global circulation of 441,219 and U.S. circ of 126,647.

But Zorthian has little interest in pushing an online newspaper experience. "Our target audience for the newspaper probably wants to read it as a newspaper," he said. "The C-suite executives need to have a more portable and accessible product, I think."

Zorthian's promotion comes in the same year that the Financial Times kicked off a brand image marketing campaign and last month began offering free access to 30 stories a month at FT. com. Meanwhile, executives of parent company Pearson have said they are studying ways to compete against Dow Jones & Co. once it is required by News Corp.

Zorthian, whose background included stints at Forbes Inc. and Time Inc. before he joined the Financial Times in 2004, isn't fazed.

"The Journal is a very good newspaper, but they go after a different market," Zorthian said. "Especially in the United States, we just go after the top echelon. The publication sells itself."

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