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Picking Higher Fruit – How to Gain New Cost Savings in Publishing

The Publishing industry has stayed true to the thought of “our company is unique!" A friend at a major chain of newspapers once told me, “we have 30 different businesses, each needing a different solution and making it impossible to standardize operations, therefore, I have to deal with too many vendors.” The rule has always been one size does not fit all and it is still true today. Even with common threats for circulation, content, advertisers, and digital, the same solution does not apply in each case. I have always noted, publishing is risk adverse, and requires references for success. This attitude has built a reliance on many small niche players to solve many different problems, but never finding a single source to address the complete picture… In many ways this reflects the silos within the Publishing industry.

In the past 10 years, with reductions in revenues, there has been a strong push to identify cost savings that are considered as "low hanging fruit.” Most of the savings have been directed at production departments. Finding a cheaper way to build ads, products, and digital editions using labor arbitrage has been the standard. All of these directives have the underlying thought that my business is different therefore my solution is unique. As a result there has been lots of production outsourcing and temporary relief, but the major savings from those first changes have been absorbed. The time is now for our industry to find more.

To “pick the higher fruit” – and yes, I do mean find further savings – requires a deeper dive into various types of operations. The right kind of partner will be able to solve more complex operational or financial problems. A company that is an expert in publishing operations can identify opportunities in areas such as customer service, finance, operations, and infrastructure. Every possible department must be evaluated for productivity as well as results. To be successful this review requires a different skill set as well as an agile, multifaceted partner. I still stress that the solution for one operation is not the same for another, even within the same ownership. The danger I see for many organizations is, in an examination of one area, a decision is made, and a vendor is selected without a view of the entire organization. Like pins in a bowling alley, to get a strike, you must hit them all.   

Remember, "One man’s strategy is another man’s tactic."

My point to this is simple. The solutions or vendors of the past will not find the higher fruit. Single area solutions are tactical and will not have a larger view beyond one facet of operations. The secret sauce is in the ability of your partner to offer expertise in all areas providing operational solutions, freeing the Publisher to concentrate on creating content and selling advertising. You need a partner with a holistic view of all types of publishing operations and someone who can select the correct resource, providing a balance between Cost and Productivity. It is the combination of different disciplines from a single source that will find a lasting solution for your unique business and at the same time be responsive and responsible. It is this strategic view that will provide the next level of savings and serve up the Higher Fruit.

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