Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A few rhetorical questions about Gannett's DealChicken

I try and stay optimistic, especially when I see traditional publishers attempt to break into the digital space. In fact, I just this morning wrote on another site questioning the basic premise that "digital" is by definition challenging to print publishers – isn't that why TNM readers come here, to hear about digital?

But back to Gannett: today the media company announced that they are rolling out their own group buying service nationally. Called, believe it or not, DealChicken, the social buying service was previously tested in Phoenix and now it is being launched elsewhere, supposedly.
So here are a few questions about DealChicken, if they may really just be rhetorical:

1. If DealChicken is being rolled out nationally, why does the website say "Coming Soon"? Has it launched or not. (In fact, the program is only available still in select markets.)

2. The press release talks about " a new and unique daily deals business", what is unique about DealChicken?

3. GroupOn is successful because it is committed to sales, especially inside sales. Gannett says “DealChicken builds on Gannett’s unparalleled local market presence and digital strength,” said David Payne, senior vice president and chief digital officer.

So . . . has Gannett hired a new sales staff for DealChicken, or added on to the sales staffs at its local newspaper sites? Or is this being handed to the existing local sales teams, teams that have been downsized over the past decade?

OK, enough. I think launching one's own digital brands is great. Really. This is precisely what the company needs to do. But Gannett just yesterday announced a new addition to the executive team, Debra Goetz will join Gannett in a newly created position of veep of marketing. This on the heals of the announcement last month that the company was eliminating 700 positions.