new product lines were launched. Newspapers were acquired. A subsidiary
was sold. And management changed
as well. "
President of Freedom Orange County Information, Inc.
Table of Contents
High Desert Hero
A Paradigm of Time
The Perfect Political Storm
A Bravo Performance
An Inside Job
The President & Chairman's Report
Board of Directors
Freedom's Family of Information & Entertainment Providers
2000 Annual Report Home
Freedom Communications, Inc.
The Single Copy Sales Team includes (from left) Paula Olson, Jerry Duarte, Tim Latimer and Jozann Borenstein.
A team of Register "bulldogs" in single-copy sales is doggedly boosting circulation. For almost five years, single-copy sales had dipped an average of 3.6 percent daily and 5.4 percent Sunday. But in 2000, sales went up three percent daily and 3.6 percent Sunday. That's a swing of 7 percent daily and 9 percent Sunday. The team, led by Director Paula Olson, did it by focusing on marketing content, opening new sales locations, meeting customer needs, improving distribution and developing the Single Copy Sales Team.
Orange County Information
OC 2000: If anyone had looked into a crystal ball to predict what a new century would bring to Orange County and The Orange County Register, he or she would have seen change as a continuing theme.
Significant new product lines were launched. Newspapers were acquired. A subsidiary was sold. And management changed as well.
From a diversification standpoint, 2000 started with the creation of MyOrangeCounty.com (MyOC.com), a community portal website for Orange County and a companion site for ocregister.com. The company faced technology problems from the outset and by the end of 2000, that software was discarded. Management also changed as founding CEO Paul Thiel departed. He was succeeded at the end of 2000 by Ginger Neal who came from ModeStyle.com, a Freedom partnership with the creators of Mode magazine. MyOC.com was relaunched in the first quarter of 2001.
Next came the creation of OCR Community Publications, a division aimed at serving niche audiences in Orange County with glossy magazines. Freedom Orange County Information hired Chris Schulz from Freedom Magazines, where he had led World Trade magazine, and named him publisher and chief operating officer of the new division. Converting two existing "advertorial" magazines publications with most of the editorial supplied by advertisers OCR Magazines launched GolfExtra and Orange County Home.
GolfExtra evolved in June from GolfStyle, aimed at frequent Orange County golfers. As a quarterly magazine with 100,000 circulation, its largest issue in 2000 reached 78 pages with 40 advertisers and 34 pages of ads. In 2001, GolfExtra became a bi-monthly publication. OC Home evolved from YourHome and became a 75,000-circulation monthly. With a successful launch in June, it grew to 116 pages by the end of the year, 62 of those as ad pages. About 90 advertisers use OC Home.
OCR Magazines grew in September when Freedom Orange County Information acquired Coast magazine. With 46,000 controlled circulation, Coast serves the coastal communities of Newport Beach and Laguna Beach and other selected high-demographic areas. Coast's November issue was 212 pages, its largest ever, with $300,000 in revenue and 125 pages of advertising.
SmartSigns, acquired in 1995 as a sign company with plans to offer expanded services to Register advertisers, was sold in September.
On the newspaper side, Freedom Orange County Information added to its portfolio. In April we acquired three weekly newspapers from an affiliate of The Irvine Company. Two of them, Irvine World News and Tustin Weekly, competed with existing Orange County Register weeklies in those communities. The third was Irvine Spectrum News, a lifestyle weekly for the Irvine Spectrum area of businesses, retail and entertainment venues.
The purchase of the highly successful Irvine World News meant the closure of Irvine Citizen, the existing Register weekly for Irvine. In Tustin, the Tustin News became the only weekly upon the closure of the Tustin Weekly. The Tustin News incorporated several features from the closed Tustin Weekly.
In the fall, the company launched Canyon Life, a new weekly serving the affluent Trabuco Canyon communities and adjacent areas. Rancho Santa Margarita News became its own weekly, spinning off from the Saddleback Valley News and twinning with Canyon Life to serve advertisers.
The Orange County Register focused on management changes and a great deal of work on rethinking the newspaper.
Kathy Weiermiller, formerly the chief financial officer of the company for the past five years, made the move to senior vice president of operations. She was succeeded as CFO late in the year by Diane Siegfried, who came from AT&T Wireless. Joe Schneider came from a San Diego health-services company to join the Register as vice president of information technology.
The biggest change was the move of Ron Redfern from president of the Register to president of Freedom Interactive Newspapers. The move offered Redfern a new challenge of bringing the interactive companies that had been affiliated with newspapers much closer to their mother ships. Many Register associates, especially those in the newsroom, spent hours and hours in 2000 listening to readers and potential readers about how the newspaper could better serve them. This work led to planned changes in the Register that launched in March of 2001.
From a financial perspective, it was a reversal from 1999. A huge decline in advertising revenue in the second half of 2000 materially disaffected the company's profitability and the Register ended the year far below its cash-flow goal.
The Register's operating cash flow finished the year 11 percent below budget and 5 percent below 1999. While 1999 was a banner year for the Register, helped in the fourth quarter by a flood of dot-com company advertising, the late-spring 2000 collapse of stock prices for interactive companies caused a dramatic drop in that advertising. Then, the second half of 2000 saw a precipitous decline in advertising revenue. In real estate, low inventory of houses for sale meant little need for advertising. Entertainment advertising suffered from a lack of blockbuster movies and the financial troubles of theater chains. Later, major advertisers felt the softness in consumer spending and cut back on their advertising. In all, advertising fell from running way ahead of plan for the first half of the year to falling almost 3 percent below plan for the year.
- Chris Anderson,
President of Freedom Orange County Information, Inc.