“William Randolph Hearst started this company on March 4, 1887, with the clear belief that media innovation leads to media progress — and success. That is the foundation on which this company is built. …”
Read more of Hearst CEO Frank Bennack Jr.’s 125th anniversary letter to employees after the jump.
This year marks an extraordinary milestone birthday for us. Hearst has now informed, inspired and entertained people for 125 years!
In that time, our innovations have transformed every medium. We have grown from a single flagship newspaper in San Francisco to a New York-based global media and information leader whose 24/7 reach extends to more than 100 countries and whose voice speaks in over 35 languages.
We are truly, as our 125th anniversary ad campaign says, “Media that moves the world.”
I have been lucky enough to be part of Hearst for more than 50 of our 125 years. And on this occasion I couldn’t be more proud to celebrate the company’s greatest achievements with its greatest assets—each of you.
William Randolph Hearst started this company on March 4, 1887, with the clear belief that media innovation leads to media progress—and success. That is the foundation on which this company is built. We are all stewards of that connection and must act as its global advance team every day.
In this very special year, there can be no more perfect connection between legacy and the future: Our revenue will be nearly equally split between print and electronic media, and digital revenue will approach the company’s total revenue in our centennial year, 1987.
Creating media that moves the world begins by moving people in their own communities. I learned this in my first job at my hometown newspaper, the San Antonio Light, where I saw that people who relied on the news and advertisements in our pages took action: They cheered local heroes, they helped neighbors in need, they supported our businesses, they voted. They spoke out in letters to the editor and showed up for civic events. They were engaged and involved. They were moved.
In that respect, nothing has changed in 125 years. Except the people we now move live in communities all over the world.
The myriad of ways we connect and move people today, on the page and on the screen, would be dizzying if we stood still. We do not stand still at Hearst. We never have. Our history is one of strides forward. And ingenuity propels every stride in our global expansion.
Look back with me: Long ago, Hearst found new ways to move readers of its newspapers with innovations in color printing, Sunday magazines, comic syndication and wire services.
Hearst magazines helped move consumers toward product safety with Good Housekeeping and its Research Institute in the early 20th century and decades later vaulted Cosmopolitan to become the top young women’s title in the world when legendary editor Helen Gurley Brown moved single women with her vision of a bold new world.
Hearst advanced TV’s progress forward when it connected viewers of WBAL in Baltimore to color TV as early as 1952. Thirty years later, it moved viewers with revolutionary cable programming, from the precursor brands to today’s Lifetime, A&E and HISTORY. ESPN had a similar start as a cable network. Now, in 190 countries around the world, it connects viewers to the sports programming they love though TV and radio broadcasts, movies, magazines, websites, live online streaming and wildly popular apps.
Hearst’s business information division was symbolically born in 1903 when the first magazine started by Mr. Hearst himself, Motor, began moving automotive enthusiasts to connect with their community and their passion. Today, its print and digital content are must reads for auto professionals as far away as China.
Look to recent innovation milestones with me: Hearst was the first company to commit to a major building project in New York City in the wake of 9/11. In 2006, Hearst Tower moved New Yorkers, visitors and employees with an architectural triumph that was New York’s first LEED Gold-certified occupied building. It’s now on track to capture Platinum certification as part of our anniversary celebrations.
In 2006, Hearst invested in then start-up Pandora, one of the first personalized Internet radio services, moving listeners to create their own programming. Today it is a successful public company.
Two years ago, as the first major publisher to have all its titles available to read digitally on any tablet device, we moved millions of consumers to connect wirelessly to their favorite Hearst brands. And Hearst Newspapers now makes it easier for iPad readers to quickly connect with must-have news.
We also connect business leaders with the intelligence they need to do their jobs. Our recently increased stake in Fitch Ratings speaks to our commitment to moving business forward.
Last year, our acquisition of nearly 100 magazines from Lagardère—including publishing rights to global power brandELLE—made us one of the world’s largest magazine publishers, connecting people around the world to Hearst’s 300-plus editions.
Which brings us to my favorite part of our job: What’s next?
It’s a new era at our Texas properties—and all our papers—as we redefine what it means to be a newspaper, with leading websites and mobile apps for readers and multimedia digital marketing services for customers.
Hearst Magazines has never experienced a more exciting time. In the words of the company’s UNBOUND tagline, we see no limits for our brands. We’re expanding in key international markets, in new verticals such as digital marketing services and fulfillment services, and in our core print operations, now with the added brand power of Food Network Magazine and HGTV Magazine.
We’ll continue to pursue new international launches and acquisitions—and extensions, like the recent move to publishELLE China twice a month. We now sell more than 500,000 digital magazine editions every month—and we plan to reach one million this year. And our multifaceted relationship with Amazon will soon make the Kindle Fire editions of our magazines shoppable, linking readers from editorial to purchase in one click.
As you know, many of the most recent media strides have been in social media, and Hearst is moving quickly into the thick of this, as well. We played host to Social Media Week events in New York earlier this month—with thousands of employees and guests connecting with leaders in this important emerging space.
Hearst Television is already in full swing for this national election year, offering new ways for viewers to take part in the political discussion and offering the airtime so very important to candidates. The biggest winners this year will be viewers of our TV stations in the 12 closely divided swing states identified by Gallup: Hearst has 12 battleground-state outlets.
Hearst Entertainment & Syndication is smashing ratings with the second season of The Voice and continuing to shepherd HISTORY’s record-breaking run. The Bible360 app is topping the charts—and it’s only the precursor to Mark Burnett’s Bible series coming to HISTORY next year.
Moving the world forward is also the mission at Hearst Business Media, where important growth is happening at our healthcare industry companies, including First DataBank, now rebranded as FDB.
And this year marks the 50th anniversary of the William Randolph Hearst Foundation’s United States Senate Youth Program, which brings together exemplary high school students from every state for a weeklong internship in D.C. to experience their national government in action. We couldn’t be more proud to see young people move toward careers in public service.
So, at the 125-year mark, we can say that not only does Hearst have a history of connecting people with content that moves the world, but we have a clear road ahead to keep a glorious journey going.
The idea of content is especially vital to Hearst’s future success. Our company is defined not by size, but by depth. And our depth lies in our content. Content that moves people, whether they live in San Antonio or San Salvador, the Bay Area or Beijing, Dublin or Dubai. They take action: They support global causes, they raise cultural awareness, they shop, they speak up, they speak out. They are moved.
Nothing is more important than Hearst’s connection to its 20,000 employees. Everything starts with—and depends on—you. William Randolph Hearst believed that success demands you hire the very best people. I couldn’t agree more.
That’s why as we navigate the complex and kinetic digital world together I am completely confident we will meet every creative challenge and maybe invent a few new ones along the way. We’ll adapt to media’s changes because we have the creative minds, the resources and the history to do just that. And more.
If you look at our economic model over the last 125 years, the clear constant has been growth. In the last 25 years alone, Hearst’s revenue has become nearly five times larger.
Nobody said it would be an easy ride, but for a company that’s been leading for 125 years, to still mark records (and outperform expectations) is immensely gratifying and you should be proud.
New magazines, apps, brand extensions, reality television shows, even a new corporate office in China…there is always new proof that Hearst’s people have the endless capacity to innovate, create and connect. I am proud to say we are celebrating 125 years of what’s new.
We have some wonderful plans in store to celebrate our anniversary throughout 2012. Some of the things you can look forward to:
–March 5 – Anniversary advertisements online and in major daily newspapers
–March 5 – In New York City, 57th St. & 8th Ave. renamed Hearst Place for one week
–March 5 – Empire State Building lit “Hearst Blue”
–March 7 & 8 – Public television special Treasures of New York: Hearst Tower (airing in the New York area March 7 at 7 p.m. on WLIW, March 8 at 8 p.m. on WNET & available online after initial broadcasts)
–September – Full-length feature film on Hearst directed by award-winning documentarian Leslie Iwerks, who you might know from her film The Pixar Story
–September – 125th anniversary commemorative book and companion e-book
Many Hearst brands and businesses will also find ways to celebrate in their own way. Given Hearst’s longstanding commitment to giving back to the communities where we do business, I hope our properties will take our anniversary as an opportunity to honor the spirit of Hearst and this anniversary on a local level.
Above all, I want to thank each and every one of you for making your role in Hearst’s 125 years a significant part of the whole. Your reach is global but your touch is personal. I hope you enjoy this anniversary year and every day at Hearst.
All good wishes,
Frank A. Bennack, Jr.