Harte Hanks is an American marketing services company headquartered in Uptown San Antonio, Texas. It is a marketing services firm specializing in multi-channel marketing solutions. Harte Hanks offers end-to-end marketing services including consulting, strategic assessment, data, analytics, digital, social, mobile, print, direct mail and contact center.

History

Founded by Houston Harte and Bernard Hanks in 1923 as Harte-Hanks Newspapers (and later Harte-Hanks Communications), the company spent its first 50 years operating newspapers in Texas. In 1968, the company relocated from Abilene to San Antonio. It made its first IPO on March 8, 1972, later diversifying into television and radio properties. In 1984, the company's managers took it private, later going public again in 1993. In the mid-1990s, the company withdrew from the newspaper and broadcasting business and focused solely on direct marketing and shopper publications.[4]

Newspapers

Harte Hanks' first newspapers were Hanks' Abilene Reporter-News and Harte's San Angelo Standard. Other early acquisitions in the 1920s and 1930s included the Harlingen Star, Corpus Christi Times, Big Spring Herald and Paris News.[5] The company incorporated as Harte-Hanks Newspapers, Inc. in 1948.[6]

The company bought two competing newspapers in Greenville, Texas in the mid-1950s, consolidating them into the Herald-Banner after two years of fierce rivalry. A court case followed, with Harte Hanks accused of unfair competition. The chain was acquitted of the charges in 1959.[7][8]

In 1962, the company took full ownership of San Antonio Express-News, its largest circulation newspaper. The Express-News was one of the first properties Harte Hanks sold off, however, as it began to narrow its focus to smaller newspapers and eventually to direct marketing. Rupert Murdoch paid $19 million for the Express-News in 1973.[5]

At the time of the first IPO in 1972, the firm owned properties in 19 markets across six states.[10] The paper expanded outside of Texas that year with the purchase of the Anderson Independent and Anderson Daily Mail of Anderson, South Carolina, merging them into the Anderson Independent-Mail.

By 1980, the company owned 29 daily and 68 weekly newspapers, but its fastest growing division was consumer direct marketing, which included marketing agencies, market research firms and direct-mail distributors — the future core of today's Harte Hanks.[5]

In 1995, Harte Hanks sold to Community Newspaper Company its interest in the Massachusetts-based Middlesex News, two other dailies, and associated weeklies in the western suburbs of Boston. It had owned the News since 1972 and bought the News-Tribune and Daily Transcript in 1986.

The Abilene, Anderson, Corpus Christi, and San Angelo papers were among the last Harte Hanks properties divested, sold to E.W. Scripps Company in May 1997.[11] Scripps spun out its newspaper assets into Journal Media Group in April 2015.[12]

Television and radio

The company made its first foray into other media as early as 1962, when Harte Hanks bought KENS-AM-TV, San Antonio's CBS radio and television affiliates, as part of its acquisition of the Express-News. Harte Hanks turned KENS from a perennial ratings also-ran to the market leader by 1968. In the 1970s, the newspaper-dominated company further diversified its holdings by purchasing the WAIM radio and TV stations in Anderson as part of its purchase of the Independent and Mail, as well as television stations in Jacksonville, Florida, Greensboro, North Carolina, and Springfield, Missouri. In 1978, Harte Hanks bought radio stations formerly owned by Southern Broadcasting. In 1980, the company's broadcast holdings were four television stations, 11 radio stations and four cable television systems. It sold off most of these assets in the mid-1980s to pay down debt incurred in the leveraged buyout that took the company private. Harte Hanks continued to hold KENS until 1997, when it and the company's remaining newspaper properties were sold to Scripps.[5]

Television Stations

City of license / MarketStationChannel
TV (RF)
Years ownedCurrent ownership status
Jacksonville, FloridaWTLV12 (12)1975–1988NBC affiliate owned by Tegna, Inc.
Springfield - Branson, MissouriKYTV3 (44)1978–1987NBC affiliate owned by Gray Television
Greensboro - High Point -
Winston-Salem, North Carolina
WFMY-TV2 (51)1976–1988CBS affiliate owned by Tegna, Inc.
WGHP8 (35)1978[13]Fox affiliate owned by Tribune Broadcasting
Anderson - Greenville - Spartanburg, South Carolina -
Asheville, North Carolina
WAIM-TV40 (14)1972–1978MyNetworkTV affiliate, WMYA-TV, owned by Cunningham Broadcasting
(Operated through a LMA by Sinclair Broadcast Group)
San Antonio, TexasKENS-TV5 (39)1962–1997CBS affiliate owned by Tegna, Inc.

Other businesses

In 2006, Harte Hanks acquired Global Address, a software company based in the United Kingdom that developed International Address Validation technology. Global Address was founded by Martin Turvey and Matthew Furneaux. Furneaux left Harte Hanks in 2007 and Turvey left in 2009. In 2008, Global Address was merged into Trillium Software, a data quality division of Harte Hanks.

Harte Hanks provides customer service/technical support for selected products of major companies such as Microsoft, FedEx, Samsung and Apple Inc.

In 2008, Harte Hanks acquired Mason Zimbler, an agency that focuses specifically on marketing business and consumer technology in the U.S. and internationally.

In 2008, Harte Hanks acquired Strange & Dawson, a division that focuses on lead generation, creative concept and design, media planning and buying, direct marketing, direct response and digital advertising.

In 2010, Harte Hanks acquired Information Arts, a UK-based data insight, data management and database-marketing firm specializing in B2B technology and telecom sectors.

Harte Hanks was formerly associated with the publication of weekly shopper publications,[14] with a circulation at one time of 13 million weekly in 1,100 separate editions of The PennySaver and The Flyer in California and Florida, respectively.[15] The company sold The Flyer to Coda Media in 2012,[16] having owned it since 1983.[17] The PennySaver and website PennySaverUSA.com, a nationwide network of local advertising content online for consumers and businesses, were sold to OpenGate Capital in 2013.[18] Harte Hanks had owned the publication since 1972.[19]

In 2015, Harte Hanks acquired San Mateo, California-based digital marketing firm 3Q Digital.[20]