Saturday, March 05, 2011

P.R. chief Pence: 'Gannett's brand is a valued asset'

Following is from an introduction to Corporate's guidelines for using the new company logo and tagline, unveiled yesterday. It's by Robin Pence, a vice president in charge of Gannett's public relations.

Dear Colleague:

Our company has changed a great deal over the last several years from the breadth of our portfolio to the many different ways in which we reach and engage our customers. To better reflect who we are today and the full value we bring, we have launched a new corporate brand strategy. A key component of this is a new corporate brand identity system we designed to help elevate our corporate name and create a stronger association between the Gannett parent brand and our portfolio of brands.

At the center of the brand identity system are a new logo and tagline -- It's all within reach. Our new logo focuses on Gannett's corporate brand name through a simple, straight-forward and contemporary design while our new tagline communicates the benefits we provide our customers and employees. We are also introducing the phrase, or endorsement, "A Gannett Company" to build greater awareness of our unmatched portfolio of businesses and brands by creating a direct link between Gannett and our various businesses.

Our new identity program signifies change and expresses our shared vision, mission and image while providing flexibility for our individual businesses to continue to build upon their own distinct and highly-respected brands.

Gannett's brand is a valued asset and our visual identity is a critical part of our overall image and a key part of how people perceive us. It is important that we present it in a consistent manner. Our Corporate Identity Guidelines illustrate how the logo, tagline and identity should be represented going forward.


  1. What makes this woman qualified to lead a marketing/branding campaign? What in her background shows any expertise in doing so?

    From her linked in bio:
    •Vice President, Communications at AES
    •Senior Director/Senior Principal, Corporate Public Relations and Analyst Relations at AMS
    •Associate Director, Office of Media Relations at Federal Communications Commission
    •Director, Corporate Communications at Sprint
    •Press Secretary at U.S. House of Representatives
    •Assistant Press Secretary at United States Senate

    the only thing I see her taking credit for is some ancient "dime a minute" plan while she was at Sprint. That was more about a pricing strategy than a marketing campaign, which was handled by an outside ad agency.

    Please check this out if anyone disagrees. What am I missing here?


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  3. I'm as hard on Gannett as anyone, but the resume points you've listed are all jobs in public relations/communications, and many people who handle PR also handle marketing tasks. It all depends on the organization.

    Now, I don't know how hands on her marketing experience has been, but I suspect she is getting help from other marketing folks in the company. And it's hard to think of a resume that would make someone better suited to be the head of communications. She has essentially done that job for other large companies and for the government.

  4. She obviously had a lot of outside experts. Corporate PR and Brand Marketing are two distinctive roles. But clearly her outside agencies were knowledgeable brand people. The work demonstrates someone knew how to create branding.

  5. From an artistic standpoint that logo looks like the header for a basic blog. Vomit. Why didn't they just update the big G and the globe -- that was iconic and got the message across.

    I'm sure Neuharth is spinning somewhere.

    These people are REALLY amateurs wearing fancy suits.

  6. @6:29. How's Brett?

  7. @7:54. You mean the "message" of world domination? Yeah, that's an inviting message.

  8. Gannett "brand" strategy is a joke and they blew it. Gannett is a company, not a brand. It's not going to hurt them but it's not going to help either. What would have been bolder, smarter and more helpful is this: Rebrand all Gannett newspapers under the USA TODAY brand i.e. USA TODAY Arizona Republic or Arizona Republic, part of the USA TODAY Network. USA TODAY would provide national and world news for each of the papers, like they are already doing for many. Advertising could sell the USA TODAY network. USA TODAY IS a brand, Gannett is not. Wall St. Journal couldn't do it, NYT couldn't do it, but USA TODAY could...have.

  9. Bob the Brander3/06/2011 10:49 AM

    I was told years ago that Gannett holds the copyrights to the (fill in name of state) Today name, like Florida Today, in case they wanted to consolidate papers in one state under that name.
    This "branding" effort is a waste of time if there isn't a quality product behind the brand. Ask GM, ask Chrysler about that. Ask Toyota in the wake of the unintended acceleration issue. The major difference is Toyota did major damage control to address the issues and restore confidence in their brand.
    Sadly, that isn't happening at Gannett. We see company wide layoffs, we see quality of content declining due to a reduced staff that is stretched to the max. And we see the most fatal mistake, under estimating their customers. The assumption has been wrongly made that they won't notice the changes. They won't notice the physical size of the paper has shrunk, that they're asked to pay more for less, and that the news they used to get is late or disappearing all in the name of cost cutting for short term profits at the expense of the long term. That is a huge mistake.
    Branding is always the last ditch effort of dying companies, you can look it up in the histories of dead businesses of the past where the same "hail Mary" pass attempt has been made.
    Concentrate on quality, Gannett. REAL quality, not the smoke and mirrors kind that insults the reader/customer and will eventually kill this once proud company.

  10. It all depends on what the definition of the word "It's" is.
    I define it as layoffs and crappy management.

  11. You know, I'd say a successful execution of a brand strategy would be the SC Johnson campaign. They insert "an SC Johnson product" at the tail end of every commercial or print ad, so that the consumer can make the connection between the company and the product they are using.
    The difference between SC Johnson and Gannett is that SC Johnson actually makes good, innovative products that do the job they are supposed to do.
    IMHO, as a consumer (not a marketing professional), their products are generally market leaders. They did not rename their company for Pledge, or Ziploc, or Glad, or any of their other named products (maybe because they have too many successful brands), but make sure consumers know where these products come from. In the long view, I could see this being a reason to try a new product from SC Johnson. Maybe that's the point.....
    Gannett, OTOH, is in an entirely different position. Unless they are steering towards a national, rather than local, presence (aside from USAToday), the Gannett strategy makes no sense. I live in the Midwest. I don't read the Asbury Park Press. Its content is not relevant to me. Why do I care if my local paper is part of Gannett?

  12. Well said, Bob the Brander. Gannett treats advertisers and readers alike as if they are stupid. Marketing and news (stories now feel like excuses to create "tips" boxes) are equally as patronizing.

    Some Realtors and car dealers are truly stupid, but they are waking up every day...

  13. Rebranding Gannett properties under USA TODAY would be the impetus for a new and improved product line. It would mean something. It would be truly transformative. Think about it.

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  15. I don't see anything in this resume that qualifies her to be a marketing expert. The government is not a brand. AES isn't a brand, either. Just look at any major company. How many split the p.r. function and the marketing function, virtually all do. Pence has also been at corporate less than a year. How many newsrooms has she spent time in?

  16. "brand identity system."
    "visual identity."

    What a crock of b.s. Reviving this company should be much more about a shiny new logo and nonsensical new mission statemen and massive layoffs.

  17. We.

    The chest-thumping sense of pride from Dubow, Martore, et al was simply stunning on Friday. It felt surreal, dishonest and as filling as cotton candy.

    It doesn't take a screed from my boss when I say this: prepare for another round of furloughs and layoffs.

  18. Here is who did the work, according to Adweek.

  19. Modd Tayman said...
    This post has been removed by a blog administrator.
    3/05/2011 4:49 PM

    Wow, corporate lawyer on the Gannett Blog? Careful, Jim! The watchdogs are coming out.

  20. 1:29 I removed that comment. I'm this blog's sole administrator. The only other posters who can remove comments are those removing their own -- if they have a Google/Blogger account.


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