DMA cutbacks include several key players

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On the heels of its annual conference, the Direct Marketing Association has reportedly laid off up to two dozen people, including several senior level staff.

In talks with several direct marketers, it was clear that the news was not a surprise. Even before the DMA's annual show this month, there had been rumblings that cutbacks were imminent. The fact that the organization's revenue is down significantly was cited as a reason for the move.

In a statement from the DMA, it says: “Like so many prudent businesses, DMA is restructuring to ride out the current economic situation ensuring we remain strong and capable of continuing to provide outstanding service to our members and customers well into the future.”

What was a surprise to some about the news, however, was just who was let go. The list, according to someone close to the association who did want to be named, included several long-time staff members who played key roles at the DMA, such as Peter Johnson, VP and senior economist for strategy, analysis and planning, who was instrumental in developing the organization's current research platform. Charles A. Prescott, VP of global development, also was let go, and he played a pivotal role in the DMA's global symposium, which is held every year at the annual conference. Other senior level people who are reportedly gone include Leslie J. Benjamin, director of education and event marketing; Douglas Berger, director of member communications; James F. Conway, VP and counsel for corporate and social responsibility; Alan Kuritsky, senior VP sales and marketing, and Marci Silverman, director of membership and research marketing.

The DMA also temporarily suspended publication of its daily e-mail newsletter, 3D, but sent out an e-mail today saying that it would be back Thursday.

In the organization's most recent annual report, the DMA reported revenue totaling $39 million for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2008, compared with revenue totaling $39.7 million for the previous year. In addition, operating expenses totaled $39.6 million for the year ended June 30 and $37.3 million in the previous year. The DMA started out fiscal 2008 with $11.8 million in assets and ended the year with $9.5 million in assets. This was before what was reportedly a light year for traffic at the annual conference in Las Vegas.

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