We’ve just gone through a management change and the new co-owners (my colleague, Tonia Sheridan, and I) are eager to strategically position this company for growth. The question at the top of our minds is this: how can we leverage a 30-years-young legacy brand to be even more innovative and responsive to our audience than we have been in the past? To find out, we contacted hundreds of readers and advertisers to identify how we’re meeting expectations—and what we can do better.
We asked them to describe us in their own words and identify how we met (or didn’t meet) their needs. We also enquired about all the ways they access and consume news and information, which sources they most trusted and their perceptions about media in general. The findings were often surprising, frequently affirming and occasionally eyebrow-raising.
People told us that they appreciated our bi-monthly frequency. Because we aren’t in the race to be first to market with breaking news, they said we have the advantage of being able to deliver deeper, more thoughtful and higher quality content with a longer shelf life than many daily media outlets. We also heard that our representation as the voice of the local business community—100 per cent Atlantic Canadian for 31 years!—was one of our most valued assets. These are all things that we intend to protect and enhance as we move forward.
As hoped, we also heard constructive criticisms and suggestions for improvement. We’re all about raising the bar and we thank you for holding us to a higher standard. We believe that excellence is a pursuit, not a destination. That’s why we’ve been around for so long, why we’ve become the most award-winning magazine in the region, why 83 per cent of our readers say they would recommend us to friends or colleagues; why 42 per cent of our readers describe themselves as “superfans” who read us cover-to-cover every issue; and why 83 per cent of our advertisers are repeat clients. That loyalty deserves the best and we are committed to delivering that—then improving on it. Our business philosophy and mission can be summarized in six simple words: it’s not about us, it’s about you.
An immediate “for instance” is this year’s evolution of our annual leadership recognition program. As the nature of business changes across Atlantic Canada, so too does the meaning of what it is to be a CEO. We’re revising the Top 50 program to incorporate categories that will allow for more powerful insights into the unique challenges faced by CEOs from different types of organizations. Those categories will identify leaders by company size (one to 50, 51 to 250 and 250-plus employees) as well as organization type. In addition to private sector businesses, we will recognize: non-profit/not-for-profit organizations and industry associations; crown corporations and post-secondary institutions: and startups (i.e. commercial-stage companies that have been in business from two to five years). We know we’re taking a risk by making changes to a long-established, powerful brand, but the correlation of risk and reward is the heart of business building.
That is, after all, how Atlantic Business Magazine—and its sister publication, Natural Resources Magazine—came into existence. Even though he’d had no prior experience with media in general or magazines in particular, Hubert Hutton saw an opportunity to create a new media outlet where none had existed before. Together with his wife Edwina and a loyal team of creative professionals, they built the business to where it is today: a successful locally-owned media company with a powerful legacy.
Tonia and I are well aware of that legacy and we promise to keep it top of mind as we advance our ambitious growth agenda. We will be disruptive in the most positive sense of the word. And if we do something you don’t like? Please do reach out to let us know. •