Gannett CMO Looks to Provide Multiplatform Marketing Help for Advertisers

Publish date:

A year ago, Maryam Banikarim took on the newly-created
position of chief marketing officer at Gannett. She is responsible for all
companywide marketing, communications and research efforts and is a member of
the Gannett Management Committee.

She has a broad background in marketing, previously serving
as senior VP of integrated sales marketing at NBCU, responsible for working
across all the company's platforms to develop custom ad sales solutions for
clients, while overseeing marketing for all NBCU properties. Prior to that, she
was chief marketing officer at Univision Communications.

Banikarim spoke to B&C
contributing editor John Consoli about how she sees the company being
positioned going forward from a marketing perspective. An edited transcript

You spent a number of years in CMO positions at both Univision and
NBCUniversal, which had no print platforms like Gannett does. How has the
addition of print properties for you to market impact your role at Gannett?
There really isn't that much difference. They are all media companies.
And Univision and NBCU weren't just television. Each had other properties that
had to be brought together when marketing those companies. What all these
companies have in common is that they generate content and it's always about
content. Content is what draws consumers. When you have consumers, it draws
advertisers. We're in the content business and the news distribution business.
It doesn't matter whether it's broadcast or print. Content is tailored to the
audience on each platform and then you market it.

What are some of your big picture marketing plans for the remainder of
this year?
USA Today will be 30 years
old this fall. USA Today was like an
early Internet when it was founded with its concisely written news from every
state across the country. USA Today
still covers news from every state in the country every day. We need to promote
its history and the innovative way it covers news today. It does great database
journalism in presenting complex stories in an easy to understand way using
graphics and statistics. We need to highlight and promote that to consumers and

What is different about your role as CMO at Gannett?
I have a seat at the table. I have a say in planning strategies before
they are ready to be implemented, [not] just going out and carrying out what
someone else decided. I can participate in developing the strategy aimed at
growing the company's revenue.

With the growing amount of media competition and more and more digital
properties being created, what does Gannett need to do and how does it need to
market itself to get its share of the ad revenue pie going forward?
We have to become a marketing services provider to advertisers,
particularly on the local level. Each one of our media properties has different
areas of expertise. They are going to have to define those areas and go out and
offer them to clients. We're not just in the newspaper or TV business. We have
to be more. If a local business wants to start a Website, our local newspaper
or TV station in that market needs to help. If a local business wants to
develop a social media strategy, our local media companies need to help do it
with them. We need to help them find solutions to make their business more
successful. It's no longer just about advertising. In the markets where our
properties don't have the resources to offer these services or models themselves,
we can build them centrally and roll them out into smaller markets for their
clients. We need to listen to what clients' goals are and then do whatever we
can to help them achieve those goals.

Every media company seems to be moving more heavily into digital. How important
is digital to Gannett?
Gannett has traditionally been known more as a newspaper company
because of some of the larger newspapers we have along with USA Today. But our media footprint is
much broader than that. We have 23 TV stations, including 12 NBC affiliates. We
have more than 100 Websites affiliated with their local and print broadcast
media organizations and hundreds more related to shopping, travel, healthcare
and sports information. Today, about 21 percent of our company's revenue-about
$1 billion a year-comes from our digital properties. Our chief digital officer
David Payne has done a great job in expanding our digital offerings. USA Today launched one of the first apps
on Kindle Fire with Volkswagen as a launch partner. We have new USA Today apps for iPhone and iPod
Touch. We relaunched USA and many of our local Websites. Expanded
DealChicken and our digital sports offerings. We need to stay relevant and
offer news and our content everywhere at any time.

You recently named a new president of sales for Gannett, Mary Murcko.
What will her role be?
She will oversee sales for all USA
platforms and also spearhead our efforts to nationalize our sales
through all our local media properties. We have over 100 newspapers and TV
stations, plus they all have their own Websites. She will work to create
national reach for advertisers by activating them through all of our local

From a marketing perspective how do you deal with that when talking to
perspective advertisers?
Newspapers are not dead. We've actually seen a slight uptick in our
Sunday circulations. There is still a demand for news. People are looking for
more news than ever before. And people are consuming more news than ever
before. But they are consuming it in different ways. But people still live
their lives locally first. They still need to know what's going on in their
towns, in their local government. And someone has to be the watchdog in those
towns. Newspapers can still do that. They just have to find different ways to
supplement print, whether it be via digital, mobile or other technologies. And
then we have to market those efforts.