Gannett | USA TODAY NETWORK (NYSE:GCI) announced a major organizational change today that more definitively aligns with the company’s refreshed business strategy, which focuses on two primary businesses: Marketing Solutions and Consumer.
“These organizational changes will better position us to further enhance and expand our marketing solutions capabilities fueled by our audience growth and engagement. I am confident this new structure will open up opportunities, enable us to innovate more quickly and support long-term growth,” said Bob Dickey, president and CEO of Gannett.
Two executives have been named to lead the company’s two primary businesses:
Leading marketing solutions will be Sharon Rowlands, CEO of ReachLocal, who has been named president, USA TODAY NETWORK Marketing Solutions. Rowlands will focus on further strengthening and growing our business-to-business segment, leveraging not only ReachLocal and SweetIQ, but also USA TODAY NETWORK’s powerful media assets and national and local brands.
Leading the consumer business will be Maribel Perez Wadsworth, current chief transformation officer, who has been named president, USA TODAY NETWORK. Wadsworth will lead USA TODAY NETWORK’s consumer business to include strategy and operations for the company’s award-winning portfolio of media brands such as USA TODAY, more than 100 local news and niche content brands such as For The Win (FTW) and Grateful. In addition, she will become associate publisher of USA TODAY, as part of the transition associated with John Zidich’s previously announced retirement as president of Domestic Publishing.
“By bringing together ReachLocal and SweetIQ with our local and national media brands, we are positioned to build an even stronger, high-growth marketing solutions business with Sharon leading this unified business-to-business segment. Sharon’s experience and success driving digital performance is a significant asset in Gannett’s strategic transformation,” Dickey said. “Maribel brings vast experience, expertise and proven success to her new role. Her understanding of the USA TODAY NETWORK and the audiences we serve is comprehensive, at both the strategic and operational level, and I know she will take our consumer-focused efforts to the next level and beyond.”
Rowlands has more than 20 years of experience in leading multi-billion dollar companies that serve small and medium-sized businesses, financial markets and enterprise customers. She remains CEO of ReachLocal, a best-in-class portfolio of digital marketing technologies and solutions, which Gannett acquired in 2016 and recently integrated across the NETWORK. The marketing solutions business also includes SweetIQ, an industry leading local listing management company acquired in 2017.
Wadsworth joined the company nearly 22 years ago as a news reporter. In 2010, she joined the corporate team to lead digital strategy for local newsrooms before transitioning to business-side roles where she architected Gannett’s first digital subscription strategy, created the company’s Innovation Lab and most recently served as chief transformation officer.
As part of the new structure, Kevin Gentzel’s role as chief revenue officer will expand to leading all advertising and marketing solutions revenue in North America. He will report to Rowlands. Gentzel will continue to lead national sales, GET Creative, revenue operations and sports media teams, and add all local sales and sales support teams, which include automotive and recruitment verticals, and client analytics. Prior to joining Gannett in 2015, Gentzel was the head of Advertising Sales, North America at Yahoo!, and earlier served as CRO of The Washington Post.
Additionally, Kris Barton has been named chief product officer, USA TODAY NETWORK, reporting to Rowlands. He will lead the product organization developing and managing digital platforms and capabilities for the marketing solutions and consumer businesses. With more than 17 years of experience in digital product development, Barton joined Gannett in 2016 with its acquisition of ReachLocal where he was previously chief product officer.
Finally, in light of Zidich’s upcoming retirement, Gannett Publishing Services (GPS) will report to Ali Engel, senior vice president, chief financial officer and treasurer at Gannett. GPS operates printing and packaging facilities throughout the U.S. In addition to GPS, Engel will continue to have oversight of Gannett’s financial functions as well as the technology organization. Prior to joining Gannett in 2014, she was senior vice president, chief financial officer and treasurer of A. H. Belo Corporation.