A Higher Calling
Throughout this initial phase and continuing today, HCCP's communication plan has been an essential element of the integration. The leadership team conducted town halls, company meetings and made sure to have lots of face time with the employees. Written memos from Schoenwald were plentiful. The corporate communications team developed House Work, an in-house magazine, published three times a year that goes to both internal and external stakeholders to give a face to HCCP and update what each of the different business areas are up to.
"We always said we'll be very transparent in all of our decisions, even the tough ones, and we have been," Schoenwald said of the process during a wide-ranging interview with Book Business at the New York City headquarters of HarperCollins.
Defining Their Mission
The division's new leadership team went to work figuring out how it would achieve the goal of having Zondervan and Thomas Nelson continue to publish their respective brands and maintain their own editorial focuses. Brian Murray, President and CEO of HarperCollins Worldwide, had stressed this when he announced the formation of HCCP.
One of the first things the leadership team did was formulate a mission statement for the new division: "We inspire the world by meeting the needs of people with content that promotes biblical principles and honors Jesus Christ."
Once Schoenwald got the leadership team around the table, they quickly learned that these former archrivals were pretty similar. "In fact," recalls Schoenwald, "Stan Gundry [SVP, Editor in Chief of Zondervan and Publisher of its academic textbooks for seminaries] leaned back after his 35 years at the company and said, 'I am really amazed by how close these companies really are in terms of their mission and their values.'"
The team decided that they would collaborate where possible, share best practices, and take the best of one and apply it to the other. The recent announcement of the formation of Zondervan Gift Books - led by Laura Minchew, SVP and Publisher at HCCP, who is also in charge of Thomas Nelson Gift Books - is one example of this philosophy at work.