Tag Archives: American City Business Journals
Portfolio.com’s series The Great Global Business Adventure, now underway, will run for a full year and is the product of embedding a reporter with a group of business owners exploring international expansion.
Another series, The New Risk, next looks at whether steps taken because of the economic crisis are really improving financial stability, concludes in January. In the first of what will become regular reports on emerging national trends, the site this week looks at how solar energy is being adopted by small and mid-sized businesses and the impact of community banks closing across the country.
Also on Monday, Portfolio.com launched “U.S. Uncovered,” a special section showcasing monthly demographic reports about the nation.
In addition to original content, Portfolio.com will draw from the journalism being produced by the local ACBJ business journals as well as select content from Conde Nast titles, such as Wired and Vanity Fair. On Monday, the site showcased an investigation from the Puget Sound Business Journal on why Federal regulators shut down Washington Mutual.
Portfolio.com also included an exclusive business news aggregator called bizWatch that can be fully customized by keyword or ticker symbol to track more than 9,000 public companies from thousands of news sources.
During the next few weeks, the content will expand to more than 200,000 companies that can be tracked, along with some 500,000 executives.
Read more here.
Stephanie Clifford of the New York Times writes Monday about how Portfolio.com has been remade under the direction of American City Business Journals after the print magazine attached to the site closed earlier this year.
Clifford writes, “Now, Portfolio.com, which had been sophisticated and sardonic, is being reinvented as helpful and earnest. Mr. Bradbury wants it to be a must-read site for small- and medium-size business owners. Other sites, like Inc.com and Entrepreneur.com, already cater to that audience.
“‘Both of them are offering more news you can use and have a lot of resource potential,’ J. Jennings Moss, Portfolio.comâ€™s editor, said of Inc.com and Entrepreneur.com. ‘Weâ€™ve got a lot of resources as well â€” how to build a business, tips â€” but our focus is about finding different stories that matter in the news.’
“If Portfolio once delivered gossip about which power brokers were feuding, it now will cover topics like commercial real estate, economic development, health care, and where the stimulus money is going. The goal is to serve ‘local decision makers,’ Mr. Bradbury said. ‘Our tone is going to be more similar to what we have in our business journals,’ he said.
“Starting this week, the site will add new features, like a tool called BizWatch that lets readers click an icon to get updates on companies and executives from selected news sources. Mr. Moss is starting a series on risk, and local business journal coverage will be highlighted and compiled for trend pieces, like the status of solar energy in the various states. ‘For some of the best pieces, it is a national outlet for them, which they donâ€™t have now,’ Mr. Bradbury said.”
Read more here.
Mary Beth Lohman has been named the new publisher of the Pacific Business News, an American City Business Journals paper in Honolulu.
Jim Kelly of the paper writes, “Lohman succeeds Larry Fuller, who is retiring today after 11 years as publisher of PBN.
“Lohman, 48, will be only the fifth publisher at PBN since it was founded by George Mason in 1963. As publisher, she will be responsible for all of the companyâ€™s news, advertising and business operations and a staff of 26.
“Since 1996, she has worked as the circulation director, overseeing the sale and distribution of PBNâ€™s print and online products, as well as the marketing of the newspaper and its business recognition events.”
Read more here.
TALKING BIZ NEWS EXCLUSIVE
Each of the 40 American City Business Journals papers showed up Friday morning at subscribers offices and homes with a special four-page wrap that trumpets the weekly business newspaper chain’s growth during a time of industry struggles.
The wraps contain testimonials from local business men and women in each market about how the business paper has helped them, and it launches a marketing compaign for the papers using the slogan, “Who do you want to meet today?”
The wrap also touts the fact that ACBJ’s paid circulation has increased by 3.8 percent between 2005 and 2009 while daily newspapers in the same 40 markets have lost 18.8 percent in circulation, according to Audit Bureau of Circulation data. The company’s total business journal circulation is now more than 470,000. Its bizjournals.com site has more than 8 million unique monthly visitors.
“Our circulation has been growing for several years in a row,” says Whit Shaw, the CEO of the Charlotte-based company. “We’re probably the only print newspaper company in the country that can say that. So our challenge is to ensure that people do not transfer the problems that other print publishers are having to their presumptions about our own operations.”
A Q&A with Shaw is included in each of the wraps, as is a story about the events that the ACBJ papers hold for their subscribers in each market.
The four-page wraps obtained by Talking Biz News from some of the ACBJ markets also focus on their journalism, noting the awards the papers have won and the stories they have broken.
Here are some highlights:
- The wrap for the Triangle Business Journal in Raleigh, N.C. notes that the editorial staff has 181 years of experience and the average news department staffer has worked at the paper for 8.9 years. “A veteran staff infuses the institutional memory in their stories that makes the pieces that much more interesting and relevant,” said editor Sougata Mukherjee.
- The wrap for the Puget Sound Business Journal in SeattleÂ mentions reporter Steve Wilhelm, who has been with the paper since 1988. â€œThis is the highest quality group of reporters Iâ€™ve ever worked with,â€ says Wilhelm, who as the Business Journalâ€™s Boeing reporter is now covering his fifth CEO. The well-sourced Wilhelm finds that Boeing suppliers are just as likely to mine his knowledge of Boeingâ€™s manufacturing plans as Wilhelm is to gauge theirs.
- The wrap for the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal highlights its online news coverage, which has grown dramatically for all of the ACBJ papers.Â A business-relatedÂ trial was a case in point. Starting in late October and continuing for five weeks, staff writer Katharine Grayson was there, often filing two stories per day toÂ the Web site. Readers responded by making those stories some of the most-read onÂ its site during those weeks.
- The St. Louis Business Journal wrap mentions thatÂ when Editor Trish Miller showed up for her job interview more than 20 years ago, she promised she would do whatever it took to join the staff, even sweep floors. The daughter of the publisher of the Washington Missourian, Miller worked as a researcher and reporter before making her way to the editorâ€™s desk. TheÂ paper is the only newspaper she has ever worked for except for her familyâ€™s.
Mark Harden, the new media editor at the Denver Business Journal, writes about the weekly business newspaper’s decision to begin blogging.
Harden writes, “The DBJ came to blogging carefully and cautiously. We didn’t want to divert our staff from working on the kind of insightful business news coverage that you’ve come to expect from us, both in print and online. And believe me, our people work plenty hard as it is.
“But then we came to realize that through blogging, we can offer you even more of what I think is the DBJ’s greatest strength: The deep experience and business-sector knowledge of our staff. Many of our reporters and editors have been covering Denver business for years, and have deep Colorado roots. And in the course of reporting each day, they come across a lot of interesting stuff that doesn’t make it into their stories and columns.
“From now on, they’ll be sharing some of those insights in their blogs. They’ll offer solid, useful information shedding light on local business — DBJ style.”
Read more here. Reporter Paula Moore’s online real estate column has been turned into a blog, among other moves.
Michael Olivieri, the publisher of the Boston Business Journal and Mass High Tech, has been named chief revenue officer of the publication’s parent company, American City Business Journals.
A Boston Business Journal article states, “In his new role, Olivieri will focus on American City Business Journals’ national advertising platforms â€” print, online and events. He will remain publisher of the BBJ and MHT while a successor or successors are found.
“Olivieri joined the BBJ in 1994, and has been publisher of the BBJ since 2002. He became publisher of both the BBJ and MHT in 2004.
“Olivieri is well known in local business and philanthropic circles. He serves on the board of the YMCA of Greater Boston and AccesSportAmerica and is the board chair for the local chapter of Junior Achievement.”
Read more here.
TALKING BIZ NEWS EXCLUSIVE
American City Business Journals CEO Whitney Shaw became the head of the parent company of 40 weekly business newspapers across the country earlier this year after the unexpected death of his father, Ray Shaw.
Shaw was previously a senior vice president of the company and president of its sports publishing division.
He’s now overseeing one of the largest employers of business journalists in the country at a time when the industry is retrenching. Many daily newspapers have cut their standalone business sections, and ACBJ’s weekly newspapers have hired away staff members from those dailies, particularly high-profile business journalists in Seattle and Atlanta.
Shaw talked via e-mail with Talking Biz News about the state of the privately held company, part of the Newhouse media empire, and business journalism. What follows is an edited transcript of that conversation.
Given the overall state of the journalism business these days, how is ACBJ faring?
Maybe the best way to describe this year is to say that if daily newspapers have pneumonia (or worse), ACBJ has a cold. We havenâ€™t escaped unscathed, but weâ€™re still fundamentally very healthy. Weâ€™ve always kept staffing lean, weâ€™ve never owned printing presses, we have no debt, weâ€™ve never borrowed to finance an acquisition, we donâ€™t have expensive retiree pensions — these things separate us from companies in all industries that seem to be dominating the headlines with day after day of discouraging news.
That said, thereâ€™s no question that this is the most challenging economic environment in the lifetime of virtually every corporate executive in America — it makes previous recessions and the dot com bust look minor league. This has been painful and, frankly, Iâ€™m not sure the recovery has started nationally. I think the first quarter of 2010 will continue to be soft.
Since ACBJ is a private company, we donâ€™t release financial information. I can say that while advertising revenue is off from a year ago, itâ€™s nowhere near the decline that the publicly owned daily newspapers have reported and continue to report. And our paid circulation will once again grow in 2009, as it has for several years. Few, if any, other publishers can say that.
Because weâ€™re so tied to the small and medium-sized business market, weâ€™re often the first into a recession and the first out. Weâ€™re obviously hoping that continues. Looking back, we can see where things started to slow in late 2007. That would put the start of this recession much earlier than many originally thought, though Iâ€™ve recently seen some reports pointing out something similar.
In the markets where ACBJ is going well, what are the reasons?
With 40 business journals, there are probably 40-plus reasons one does better than another. Some of our business journals are doing significantly better than their counterparts, but thereâ€™s not a single overarching reason I can point to. It could be the strength of the publisher and his or her ad director. It could be the depth of the relationship with clients.
It could be a function of what categories of advertising are strongest in a specific market -â€“ a market that relied heavily on commercial real estate advertising has been affected more than one with a diverse roster of advertisers. Sometimes, itâ€™s just a question of how nimble our ad staffs can be; if they got a heavy dose of advertising from big banks in years past, have they been able to show local banks how to grab market share in this environment?
Weâ€™ve never sold advertising based on cost-per-thousand. Weâ€™ve preached the value of who we reach, not how many. Thatâ€™s been the same year after year after year. As a result, weâ€™ve long told advertisers that business journals are an efficient and targeted medium. That argument resonates even louder when dollars are tight.
Geographic diversity has also been a significant benefit for us. Itâ€™s probably even more important now â€“- although no area of the country has missed this recession, some places have been hit harder than others. For every market where there tends to be a bigger spread between the great years and the slower years, we have markets like Louisville, Columbus and Milwaukee that turn in 5 percent, 6 percent growth year after year. It helps to have a mix of high-flyers and steady performers.
Are you seeing a trend where the better performing ACBJ markets are where the daily papers have downsized their business news coverage?
I donâ€™t think weâ€™ve ever looked to see if thereâ€™s a correlation. My guess would be that in cities where the daily has pulled back on its business coverage, the initial benefit we would get is added online and digital traffic. Once that online visitor becomes familiar with us, we have a better chance of getting someone to subscribe to the business journal.
Frankly, it seems odd â€“- even counter-intuitive -â€“ for dailies to be cutting coverage of business and economic news right now. This is the time that people need accurate and reliable business coverage more than ever â€“- itâ€™s not something that should be left to â€œcitizen journalists.â€ The need for accurate, in-depth business coverage benefits us significantly.
With the recent release of daily newspaper circulation statements by the Audit Bureau of Circulation, we had an opportunity to look at our numbers versus theirs. In the markets in which we have a business journal and there is also a dominant daily, those dailies saw circulation drop 13.2 percent in the 12 months from June 2008 to June 2009. In the same period, our business journal circulation dropped 0.67 percent. That spread of almost 14 points is the largest weâ€™ve ever seen. We still expect our circulation to grow about 3 percent for calendar 2009.
How have some of your non-print products held up, such as event that the papers hold in their markets?
Events are still a significant business for us, and one that has held up very nicely. In a lot of ways, events are the original social medium â€“- we put people together face-to-face with their peers. Attendance continues on pace with previous years, and weâ€™re seeing more interest, I think, from sponsors who are looking to connect in a hands-on way with potential clients and customers. And frankly, a number of our markets are getting smarter about the ways they sell sponsorships. In previous years, if an event had two or three sponsors, we might have added another this year. The dollars tied to sponsorships are holding up well.
Not surprisingly, weâ€™re seeing more attendees use our events to find new employment opportunities. To facilitate that and to get people talking, in some markets weâ€™ve taken an idea from college fraternities and started holding â€œmixersâ€ â€“- an informal opportunity for people to meet and talk. And yes, we sell sponsorships to the mixers.
The Triangle Business Journal, located in Raleigh, N.C., and the Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal won theGeneral Excellence awards given by its parent company, American City Business Journals, at an awards ceremony last week.
A Triangle Business Journal story states, “The general excellence award is given annually to the ACBJ papers with the best total news package. This year’s judges came from the University of Missouri.
“The award was based on the March 13 issue in which the TBJ examined the impact of the severe downturn in the construction industry in the Triangle that has resulted in thousands of people losing their jobs.
“The judges wrote of the issue, ‘A great issue should offer breaking news, compelling enterprise, industry forecasts and great graphics to add depth. Original reporting is the hallmark of this issue with an exceptional analysis of how construction contracts have evaporated, sending employment into a tailspin, and how illegal moving firms are defrauding customers.’”
A Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal story stated, “The award was based on the June 26 issue in which the Business Journal examined the impact of the state’s economic crisis in a special report titled ‘The Big Fix.’
“The judges wrote of the issue, ‘A state with budget problems of historic proportion requires a publication to blaze new trails in covering it. This issue explores how businesses must cope in the new Red Ink era of the once-golden California economy.’
“Another part of the issue cited by the judge’s was the special section in that issue about the state of Silicon Valley start-ups, as told through the weekly Business Journal feature called The Pitch.”
Larry Fuller, the publisher of the Pacific Business News, an American City Business Journals paper, plans to retire at the end of the year.
Jim Kelly of the Pacific Business News writes, “Fuller served 11 years as publisher. Only PBN founder George Mason, who led the newspaper from 1963 to 1992, held the position longer.
“‘There wasnâ€™t a day when I didnâ€™t look forward to coming to work,’ Fuller said. ‘But itâ€™s time to let someone else share the excitement.’
“A successor to Fuller is expected to be named in December.
“Fullerâ€™s tenure encompassed the technological changes to the news business that have broadened PBNâ€™s readership reach and influence but have also challenged its profitability.”
Read more here.
TALKING BIZ NEWS EXCLUSIVE
A San Francisco Business Times reporter was barred from attending a Bayer press conference Wednesday after the paper posted a story on its Web site speculating about what would be said.
Reporter Ron Leuty wrote, “Bayer HealthCare has decided where it will make future versions of its hemophilia drug, but it is not officially disclosing that decision until Wednesday afternoon.”
Later, the story said, “The only thing Bayer officials are saying right now is that Joerg Heidrich, the Berkeley-based global head of Bayerâ€™s biotech product supply organization, wants to discuss the impact of the decision on the Bay Area.”
After Bayer’s PR people read the post, one of them sent an e-mail to Mary Huss, the publisher of the American City Business Journals paper, “retracting the invitation” for another of the paper’s reporter, Blanca Torres,Â to attend the Wednesday afternoon event.
Bayer says that the paper violated its embargo, but the paper never received any information about what was going to be said at the event, just an invitation.
The invitation, in part, read, “As mentioned, Bayer would like to invite you/your colleague to the Berkeley facility to meet with Joerg Heidrich, SVP and Global Head of Bayer HealthCareâ€™s Product Supply-Biotech organization, who is also the Berkeley site head. Bayer has made a decision regarding the manufacturing for future versions of its hemophilia drug, Kogenate, and Joerg will discuss impact on the Bay area. Please let me know who will be attending so I can alert security.”
The e-mail from Bayer PR person Sreejit Mohan to the publisher, in part, stated, “Ron Leuty, who I’ve known for a couple of years and for whom I have been a very reliable and responsive source, was included in that list. I also spoke to Ron yesterday and during the conversation he threw out a couple of speculative thoughts. I told him that SFBT would get the full story on Wednesday as the news is embargoed.
“So, I was very disappointed to see that Ron wrote a purely speculative online story last night even after I told him he would have the full story in the next day. Every other outlet has respected the embargo. I was up in the middle of the night taking calls from Germany about the piece. Over the past three years, we have worked hard to make sure that we are a solid, reliable and responsive source for SFBT. We see Ron’s story from last night as a breach of trust and in many ways a lack of professionalism on Ron’s part.”
Wrote Leuty on his blog: “We took two Bayer aspirin and then Bayer’s press agency sent us the press release following the formal announcement.”