New Time Inc. CEO Jack Griffin’s First-Day Memo

This morning Time Inc.’s new CEO Jack Griffin sent out a thousand-plus–word, company-wide memo to start his first official workday. The memo includes a numbered list of principals that will guide the company. We’ve put a few points in bold that are interesting to note at the beginning of his tenure:

September 20, 2010

To:       Time Inc. Employees

From:   Jack Griffin

Dear Time Inc. Colleagues:

I am honored to write this letter to you on my first official day of work at Time Inc.  It is a privilege to join this great company at a time of such meaningful change and renewed promise for our industry.  Foremost among the many strengths of Time Inc. are all of you, our dedicated and talented team.  I am looking forward to working with you and will actively seek your input as we move forward.

This is an energizing time in journalism, media and marketing – especially at Time Inc. and Time Warner.  We are fully engaged in navigating the numerous transitions required by the digital revolution while we build on the enduring strengths of our core brands and products.  We must and will continue to create tomorrow’s businesses as we work to strengthen today’s.  This is the exciting journey we are on together.

While there is no denying that we face significant challenges, I came to Time Inc. because I believe the opportunities far outweigh those challenges.  With our powerful brands, valuable content, commitment to journalistic excellence and tradition of innovation, Time Inc. occupies a unique position.  As Rick Stengel said in a recent Washington Post interview:  “We have the Nirvana that people are looking for. We have a product that people like and are willing to pay for.”

Time Inc.’s current success and future potential derive from our deep connections to consumers, which are taking place in myriad and evolving ways.  Consumer engagement with our products has never been greater – readership of our magazines is near an all-time high and visitor traffic to our websites, which is growing by double-digits, is by far the highest in the industry.  Furthermore, Time Inc. has been the industry leader in mobile applications and tablet versions of premium branded content.  At a time when social media gets much attention, it too often goes unsaid that magazines are the original communities of interest.

Time Inc. brands resonate on deep levels and are ingrained in the culture both here and internationally. Contrary to what some say, the “national conversation” is not over but is instead being renewed.  Our company, founded by Henry Luce, was predicated on communicating and shaping this conversation. Our journalists and editors do this skillfully while introducing valuable new voices to the ongoing dialogue. Moreover, we’ve extended our mission to an Internet-enabled world of social connections and collective conversation. This is the unique DNA of Time Inc.

In a society awash with commoditized content and information, the enduring strengths of our company stand out.  Storytelling, original reporting, fact-checking, interpretation and analysis, content in a context, rich photography and navigation for the consumer – all of these things matter more now than ever before.  Our magazines answer questions that haven’t yet been asked.  I call this “the value of presented information.” This is a core value proposition we will advance with confidence as we move forward.

Along with joining Time Inc., I am also beginning my term as chairman of the Magazine Publishers of America.  I mention this to introduce a concept, which I believe you will embrace.  This is a great time to be a publisher, and an even better time to tell everybody exactly that.  Magazine companies in general and Time Inc. in particular have what all companies seek: a direct relationship with the consumer – a customer who pays us, a customer who has opted in and a customer who is by definition engaged and interested. There is no other medium that offers these strengths to advertisers, and the MPA will be promoting this message aggressively in the future.

I am passionate about the strength of our products and services and the opportunities they present.  Additionally, I am confident about your ability to build on the considerable strengths and capabilities of Time Inc.  In this spirit, I would like to leave you with five principles that I believe will shape the foundation for our continuing and enduring success.

1 – The consumer is the bedrock of our business.  Serving consumers with high-quality content and great products, no matter the platform, is the organizing principle of our business.  The content and journalism created by our editors, whether in print, on-line, on smart-phones or on tablets, is our foundation.  On the basis of this value, over time we must enhance and expand our commercial relationships with consumers.  Consumers place their trust in us; we will always honor that trust.

2 – We will continue to deliver exceptional value to our advertisers and marketing partners.  Marketers are increasingly seeking partnerships with companies that generate original ideas, cross-platform capabilities and deep consumer insights.  Time Inc. and Time Warner excel at this.  As we progress, we will continue to develop new ways to provide value to marketers and we will always insist on being fairly compensated for doing so.

3 – We must develop new sources of revenue and thoughtfully optimize costs.  For several years now, the traditional sources of circulation and advertising revenue have not been able to generate sufficient top-line growth in our industry.  At the same time, physical costs and other expenses continue to escalate, so we cannot achieve our bottom-line goals by just taking costs out of the business.  We must deploy our resources and people to develop new products and consumer offerings, brand extensions and marketing capabilities that will generate new sources of revenue and profit.

4 – We will keep leveraging new technologies and distribution channels.  It has been said that the revolution in media is driven by technology and led by consumers.  Time Inc. has long been at the forefront of these advances.  As content creators, we are constantly pursuing exciting new technologies and distribution channels.  Looking ahead, we’ll work to expand even further our relationships with channel partners, especially at retail and in emerging digital distribution venues.

5 – We must embrace change as constant and collaboration as vital. We have all heard the maxim that it’s not the strongest that survive, but those who adapt best to change.  As we lead in an ever-evolving marketplace, we must welcome possibilities for new ways of doing our work, organizing ourselves, partnering with others and delivering value to customers.  As we adapt to changing conditions, we will heighten collaboration across the company so that we learn continuously from and with each other.

Over the past few weeks, I have been meeting with a number of the outstanding senior executives at Time Inc.  We have agreed to redouble our commitment to strengthen and build new lines of communication throughout the company to bring us closer together. I will do everything possible to get my message out to you in a clear and timely way and keep you well informed about where the company is headed.  Just as important, I’ll make sure I hear what you think through various channels including MyTime, employee town halls and electronic suggestion boxes.  You will be hearing more about these soon.

I would like to close by thanking Ann Moore for her friendship and support. There is no one who knows Time Inc. like Ann does, and I’m thankful that she’s been so willing to share her insights with me. I look forward to working with the Time Inc. senior management team – as well as with Jeff Bewkes and my new colleagues across Time Warner – to steer our company successfully into the future and build on the leadership position of Time Inc.


Jack Griffin

Earlier: Incoming Time Inc. CEO Jack Griffin Got a $1.3 Million Going-Away Present from Meredith / The Jack Griffin Dossier

New Time Inc. CEO Jack Griffin’s First-Day Memo