Thursday, August 01, 2013

Layoff memo: 'We need to align our costs with the current revenue trends to grow our business'

Companies don't lay off scores of employees without closely following a carefully-prepared script. With about 18,000 workers in its U.S. Community Publishing newspaper division, Gannett is no exception.

In the Central Group of newspapers, which includes dailies such as The Des Moines Register and The Courier-Journal, publishers and other senior managers were given a three-page memo outlining when employees were to be told they'd lost their jobs this week. The document also includes a suggested Q&A explaining why the cuts are necessary.

The memo, USCP Central Group -- Recommended Communication Strategy, is marked "CONFIDENTIAL -- For Internal Use Only." I recently obtained a copy from one of my readers.

The suggested "talking points" include this:

"The recovering economy remains challenged and the secular decline in advertising has not lessened. There is weakness in the legal advertising sector due to changes in state laws and less demand is hurting our revenue growth. As a result, we need to align our costs with the current revenue trends to grow our business."

Central has been led by group president Laura Hollingsworth following a reorganization of the USCP newspaper division in May. She also is publisher of The Tennessean at Nashville.

The memo doesn't detail the newspaper ad revenue tumble. Last week, however, Corporate announced that second-quarter print ad revenue had fallen 5.3% from a year before -- the third consecutive quarter of accelerating declines. Ad sales fell 4.5% in Q1 and 2% in Q4. (Spreadsheet shows revenue changes by major GCI division since Q1 2011.)


  1. What a joke. They want you to believe this company is operating in the red. It's not! Never has. USA Today loss millions in the early years, but that was the worst of it.

    They also want you to believe that layoffs are executed fairly and with great thought. They are not! They are based almost entirely on age (which is often tied to salary). In certain case, dismissals might even be payback by an insecure boss. But for the most part, the Gannett layoffs, should not be looked at in the same light as the auto industry layoffs of several years ago. While both industries point to the failing economy, Gannett has greatly exaggerated its financial problems and used the recession to fatten its bottom line on the backs of some pretty loyal and longtime employees.

    Just a moral, if not criminal, disaster that should be looked into by the government or at least other more credible media like Pro Publica. I mean you're talking about thousands of jobs lost because Gannett took advantage of bad times to lighten its payroll. This coming from a news company whose job it is to point out the injustices and crooks, not breed them.

  2. The same old rhetoric they roll out every time they do a layoff. Cold. Oh, and they used the wrong affect/effect in the very first line item.

  3. Hey! Wall Street loves this! Revenue falling so cut cut cut! GCI shares up 1.34% Value of top execs shares and options going up! Yay!

    1. My guess is it will start falling tomorrow. That always seems to be the case.

  4. Seriously, if the company is canning your ass, do you really care about its excuses?

  5. here is the "layoff" formula !
    age (older means higher pay)
    age (more medical expenses since gannett is self insured).
    younger (lower pay less medical cost exposure)
    performance ( doesn't matter)
    its all about making the budget !!!

  6. Unfortunately a lot of companies are following the trend of the dreaded Times Picayune. Fire the older, higher paid, long time employees and hire young punks out of college for peanuts. At least at Gannett they aren't making you stay a few weeks to train your replacement. Makes me sick!


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