The New York Times Co. is the No. 1 newspaper company in the world, but it has much to learn about PR.
Take today's communiqué from its PR unit.
The company issued a press release with the heady headline "New York Times Announces New Strategy for Growth." Yay! Time to fight back.
After reading the head, a person would logically assume that something really big is in the works. After all, the Times Co. suffered a dismal first-quarter where net income plummeted 93.1 percent to a measly $2.9M on a two percent dip in revenues to $466M. Drastic measures are called for.
Did the Times have a white knight waiting in the wings? (Billionaire NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg will soon be a free agent.) Did the Times plan to go private in an effort to escape the pressure of Wall Street? Is the paper going paperless?
No, no and no.
The grand plan of CEO Mark Thompson is more of the same. Said the new CEO:
"We mean to grow our business by launching new products and services based on the unique strengths of Times journalism and by investing in the rapid expansion of existing operations – video and live events are examples – where we’re already seeing strong growth. We want to deepen our relationship with our existing loyal customers, but we also want to use a wider family of New York Times products to reach new customers both here and around the world."
Neither names nor descriptions of the new offerings were provided.
Mimicking other papers such as the San Francisco Chronicle, The Times promises cut-rate access to its site and an "enhanced tier," which is "all digital access" and full-family access.
The Times, which already had announced he rebranding of the International Herald Tribune to International New York Times, reminded readers of the release that it plans a big push overseas. As for videos, expect more of them.
The Times did disclose a nugget: games are part of its future.
A lack of specifics and regurgitation of boilerplate is the problem with the Times' release. The headline oversold the body copy by a factor of ten. It bolstered anticipation among Times fans and then cruelly let them down.
David Bryne of Talking Heads band fame, wrote in his "Psycho Killer" classic, "When I got nothing to say, my lips are sealed."
That's good advice for the Times' PR department.