At 100, Crain Communications Thrives Through Brand Expansion, Diversification and Commitment to B-to-B Niche

Mar 15, 2016, 10:33 ET from Crain Communications

DETROIT, March 15, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Amid an ever-shifting media landscape, Crain Communications is a rare success story of survival and growth as the publishing company - with its 22-brand portfolio of news products - enters its centennial year. Crain's secret to longevity can be found in its maintained focus on the B-to-B niche, major investment in technology and its brands, and diversification of delivery platforms.

To keep pace with readers' and advertisers' increasingly particular demands, Crain is doubling down on growing its brands with technology investments to upgrade all systems and management tools. The growth strategy utilizes technology and data to seed new, viable revenue streams like events, digital, and marketing services extending from Crain's already well-respected brands including Automotive News, Advertising Age, Modern Healthcare, Plastics News, Business Insurance and Pensions & Investments.

"We don't want to be the same company we were 100 years ago. In fact, we don't want to be the same company we were 10 years ago," said KC Crain, EVP, director of corporate operations. "We've been able to stand the test of time by keeping our focus on quality journalism while finding new ways to deliver valuable content to our audience when and where they need it."

To satisfy customer demand, Crain recently launched a dedicated custom content division called Crain Custom Content. The unit, which creates custom marketing campaigns using new or repurposed content from existing Crain brands, has 20 staffers with clients such as UBS and Chevrolet.

KC and Chris Crain, grandsons of founder G.D. Crain, are growing the brands their father, Chairman Keith Crain, and uncle, President Rance Crain, have established as some of the most trusted print titles in the industries they serve.

Building on Crain's business weeklies in New York, Chicago, Detroit and Cleveland, the company's new CRM tools fueled the 2015 launch of personalized daily digital newsletters targeted to business executives in nine markets including Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, Houston, L.A., Philadelphia, San Francisco, Silicon Valley and Washington, D.C. Another 23 cities are set to dispatch by June 2016, aiming to truly create a national footprint. Under the tagline, "Business news just got personal," Crain's is now able to deliver a newsletter customized to the reader's specific preferences each morning.

"Ultimately, it's about building connections and communities to help our readers do their jobs better," Chris Crain said.

More signs of growth are evident with Crain brands expanding to new audiences around the globe too. In January, Pensions & Investments' acquired two conferences – WorldPensionSummit and WorldPensionSummit Africa Special – from Netherlands-based Global Platform BV. Then, in February, Automotive News announced the launch of Automotive News Canada.

In addition to investment and diversification, the final secret to Crain's longevity is the family's commitment to its founding principles rooted in solid journalism to serve its niche audience of business leaders, and resisting the temptation to drift into the pay-to-play model used by a significant portion of business media today.

"That's never been in our DNA and it never will be in our DNA," KC Crain said. "When you're doing 24/7 journalism, there's a lot more opportunity to make mistakes and we can't afford that. We have a 100-year-old brand we have to protect. We're not interested in making any bad short-term decisions that could jeopardize what we've built."

Crain founder, G.D. Crain Jr., launched the company's first publication, Hospital Management, in February 1916.  Today, with 880 employees in 13 locations throughout North America and Europe, Crain's 22 brands now reach 6 million business decision makers across the U.S., Europe and Asia, and stand among the most influential media properties in the industries they serve.

Crain has been led by only three chairmen and three presidents since 30-year-old G.D. Crain Jr. founded the company in Louisville, Ky., in 1916. G.D. led for nearly six decades before his death in 1973. His widow, Gertrude Crain, took over as company chairman for the next 23 years, pioneering new pathways for women in business leadership. G.D. and Gertrude's two sons, Keith, 75, and Rance, 77, took over as chairman and president, respectively, in 1996, roles in which they still serve. Today, a third generation of Crain family leadership is steering the company into its next era with KC Crain, 36, in Detroit, and his brother Chris Crain, 40, in New York.

About Crain Communications

Crain Communications is a privately held media company that produces trusted and relevant news publications, lead generation, research and data products, digital platforms, custom publishing, and events with uncompromising integrity. Reaching 6 million business decision makers and consumers across the United States and in select markets in Europe and Asia, the company's 22 brand portfolio includes many of the most influential media properties in the verticals they serve including Automotive News, Autoweek, Advertising Age, Modern Healthcare, Plastics News, Business Insurance and Pensions & Investments. Headquartered in Detroit, the company's 880 employees in 13 locations deliver exceptional news content over a variety of platforms to empower the success of its readers and clients.

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