Bill Boyd Named Publisher of Weekly Planet in Tampa

Sets aggressive growth goals

Bill Boyd is a self-described man of many hats, the most recent of which he donned in June when he became publisher of Tampa’s Weekly Planet.

The former publisher, Susan Dix Tibbits, was let go for her inability to reach owner Creative Loafing Inc.’s revenue goals, Boyd says.

“We are pushing very hard for revenue growth in all of our papers—but particularly this one, which is our second-largest paper—and that did not prove to be an area of particular strength for her,” Boyd says.

Dix disagrees with Boyd’s assessment: “Weekly Planet under my management met or exceeded budget projections every month but February since the new corporate group took over … For the 8-month period, we averaged just below 10% growth in display revenue.

“Sure we all strive to do more, but considering the economic climate I felt my team was doing a solid job and moving in the right direction,” she says.

The seeds for the personnel changes at Weekly Planet were sown last October when Ben Eason, now president of Creative Loafing Inc., bought the five-paper Creative Loafing chain from his parents and combined it with the Weekly Planet papers he owned in Tampa and Sarasota.

“That’s when I started working for the company,” Boyd says. “I had before that been a member of the advisory board … for several years.”

Boyd, senior vice president of talent and organizational development and group publisher for all Creative Loafing Inc. papers except the flagship weekly in Atlanta, plans to beef up Weekly Planet’s sales team.

“We have been very short on sales reps for the whole time the company has been in existence,” he says. “That’s made it very difficult to meet our revenue target.”

Boyd plans to increase the ad staff from nine to 14 within the next month.

“We’ve started doing things that we didn’t used to do to attract people, like advertising on,” he says.

With an increased ad staff, Boyd is confident he’ll be able to reap the benefits of a healthy market and show the daily more stiff competition.

“Over the last few years (the Tampa Tribune has) actually started to acknowledge that we’re competition,” he says.

“A substantial number, but still not a majority, of the advertisers we work with overlap ones they work with, and there are a lot of ones that are below their radar.”

Increasing advertising staff has paid off for the Atlanta paper and will hopefully pay off in Tampa as well, he says.

“We were trailing behind them (Atlanta) in Tampa in terms of how fast we could ramp up to get and keep, not only more people but more competent, more highly trained people on the streets,” he says.

Before joining Creative Loafing, Boyd was a faculty member at the Poynter Institute for Media Studies. Before that, he had been a computer company executive, a CBS television executive and a PBS reporter. He earned his Ph.D. at the University of California at Berkeley and is currently president of the ACLU in Florida.

Seth Wharton is a business writer based in Knoxville, Tenn.

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