CINCINNATI — St. Anthony Messenger Press (SAMP), sponsored by St. John the Baptist Province here, is the latest publishing company to be hit by the recession, the Internet, and changes in people’s reading habits.
SAMP, which publishes the widely circulated St. Anthony Messenger magazine and Catholic Update, and books, newsletters and homily services, recently announced organizational changes that include voluntary early retirement to eligible employees, closing its call center, and eliminating its independent field sales force.
Meeting the Future
SAMP CEO and publisher Dan Kroger, OFM, said on June 8 the organization was taking a new strategy to keep pace with evolving technology and changes in Catholic readership. Redefining its strategy and reducing staffing will allow SAMP to compete more effectively in the current culture and economy, said Fr. Dan. The recession has increased costs and reduced sales.
“SAMP, like many communications organizations,” Dan said, “is examining its corporate mission and goals, the audiences we reach and those we want to develop, and the formats and technology we want to employ to communicate successfully. Over the past six months, in consultation with the Xavier Leadership Center of Xavier University, SAMP’s leadership has been creating a new business plan and marketing strategy that will allow us to continue providing products and services that inspire and enrich people’s lives.”
A New SAMP
Dan said that the 116-year-old communications company will:
• Become a more sharply focused, market-driven provider of inspirational products and services
• Move into new markets and expand to existing markets
• Strengthen online evangelization and e-commerce efforts
• Implement company-wide cost efficiencies for purchasing, inventory, utilities, salaries and bonuses
The changes, he said, aren’t only financial. “People are changing the ways they communicate. Across the country, we have witnessed the decline of secular and religious newspapers and the diversification of traditional publishers. Reading habits are shifting, gradually but noticeably, for everyone, and rapidly among younger people, from print to electronic sources. Also, people are approaching religion in different ways. Those who call themselves ‘Catholic’ may not find their new religious searching met by traditional resources.”
He continued: “Our traditional Catholic audience is shrinking; people who have been raised in the Catholic tradition are expressing their religious imagination in different ways. Our subscriber base is declining. In order to present to this broader audience our core Catholic message, with a Franciscan flavor, we need to reposition our strategies as a Catholic resource provider. That’s actually not so different from our founder, St. Francis of Assisi, who, in the 13th century, modeled new ways to express Catholic tradition for a new era.”