Christian Retailing

Publishers cautioned not to 'hunker down' Print Email
Written by Staff   
Tuesday, 19 October 2010 10:00 AM America/New_York

Survey points to need to make the most of digital opportunities


Christian publishers have been urged to make sure that they are investing in enough new blood to make the most of the digital revolution.

The caution comes from their trade association in the wake of survey results that revealed limited opportunities for newcomers.

Almost two-thirds of companies surveyed by the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA) cut staff last year, while another study by the group found that around only one in 10 employees had been in the industry for less than five years. More than 40% had 20-plus years' experience.

In a message to members in the ECPA E-Link newsletter, Information and Education Director Michael Covington asked: "Is the economy keeping Christian publishers from investing in the future?" He added that the studies' findings brought into question whether "they will be able to adequately adjust to the demands of the digital publishing age."

Covington wrote that only "a small fraction" of publishers' staff was new to the industry. Although education about the possibility of new technology was important "if you are not personally engaged in and understand today's new media platforms, and the challenges and opportunities they provide, it might be wise to begin thinking about how you will recruit people who do."

Covington told Christian Retailing: "We want to make sure that people are adequately sizing up where we are going as an industry and investing appropriately. Let's not have a hunker-down mentality, because the digital world is an opportunity that is growing."

Last year's staff cuts were discovered in an economic impact portion added to the ECPA's recently completed biennial Salary & Benefit Survey. In addition to the personnel reductions, 81% of responding companies said they had frozen salaries, while 67% had a temporary hiring freeze and 23% terminated contract positions and third party arrangements.

Nineteen percent said that they had increased staff during 2009, while 28% indicated that they would probably do so in the next 12 months. For 57%, staffing levels were projected to remain the same and 14% predicted cuts.

Additionally, the average pay increase anticipated for the coming year was 2.2%. Last year's average rise had been 0.8%, with a 3.3% average the previous year.

The survey was conducted among a group of ECPA members, almost a third of whom were non-profits. The report detailed salaries for personnel from CEOs—with average annual salaries of just under $200,000—through editorial, marketing, sales, distribution and administrative departments.

The survey found that 9% of companies provided full medical coverage for staff, with the rest offering partial coverage. Other benefits included life insurance (86% full, 4% partial) and maternity leave (16% full, 31% partial). Just over a third offered adoption assistance and 9% made scholarships available for children.