BCBusiness has completely revamped itself from a traditional magazine to online site with the launch of a redesigned print edition in March and new website. The magazine also offers a daily newsletter and will roll out an iPad edition soon. J-Source associate editor Tamara Baluja interviewed editor-in-chief Tom Gierasimczuk about the changes at the magazine and how he hopes it will better serve readers, without breaking the budget.

By Tamara Baluja

BCBusiness has completely revamped itself from a traditional magazine to online site with the launch of a redesigned print edition in March and new website. The magazine also offers a daily newsletter and will roll out an iPad edition soon.

The changes come with a newly minted editor-in-chief at the helm of BCBusiness. Tom Gierasimczuk joined the magazine in September 2012 and is also vice president editorial at the Vancouver-based Canada Wide Media. Prior to that, he was editorial director at Rogers Media-owned Marketing Magazine in Toronto and at Calgary-based RedPoint Media Group, where he was named Editor of the Year in 2010 by the Alberta Magazine Publishers Association.

J-Source interviewed Gierasimczuk about the changes at the magazine and how he hopes it will better serve readers, without breaking the budget.

J-Source: March has been very busy for BCBusiness. The print edition was redesigned, you’ve got a new website and rolled out a new daily newsletter. Plus, the iPad edition of the magazine. What is your digital strategy going forward?

Tom Gierasimczuk: Our strategy is not a digital one per se. It's an audience-first strategy. We didn't touch a thing with the existing product – which was a 12-times-a-year print product, website and an events program – until we had a chance to really survey our readers about what they needed from their local business media. They told us the kind of content they wanted [and] in the context they wanted it in, and we delivered as much as timelines and my editorial and art team's patience allowed. 

J-Source: Have you seen an uptake in online and mobile traffic with these changes?

TG: The percentage of mobile traffic coming to our site continues to climb rapidly. Currently between 25 and 30 per cent of our traffic arrives via mobile. It's why we had to create a responsive user experience. Combine this with the fact that 30 per cent of Canadians own tablets, and our iPad initiative was a close second priority. 

J-Source: Could you highlight some of the changes you've made with the magazine redesign?

TG: The new magazine design is more textured. It’s dense in a way that coaxes readers to lose themselves in a page and enter it through infographics, display copy and that hot little design device that's approaching ubiquity but I love anyway known as marginalia. The print design is meant to be part of a larger ecosystem and there are throws to online and iPad extras, videos and our social channels. We also enhanced the pacing of the magazine: from industry-specific news and views in the first part of the front of the book, [and transitioning] to more all-encompassing business service journalism to finish the front section. The back of the book is also a nice wind-down from the commitment of the features and stays true to its “Out of Office” moniker. Our readers told us they want more gear, travel, wine and dining-out coverage, through the filter of business, so we tried to give them that.  

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Video courtesy of Canada Wide Media

J-Source: Do these changes mean more staff or a change in resource management?

TG: We didn't hire a single body, [except] for a company-wide videographer, despite ramping up our editorial output three-fold. What was once a monthly magazine evolved into a daily newsroom, daily morning e-newsletter and iPad app. This significant increase in productivity was only possible because of a nimble, talented editorial team that saw the long-term gain for some short-term pain. Our team understands that editing a section of a monthly magazine is not enough in today's marketplace. In order for us to deliver on our ambitious goals, every editorial staffer had to commit to being a storyteller across all of our platforms – from thinking about video to accompany a print Q&A to how best to rotate an annotated artist rendering in our iPad app.

J-Source: How much did Canada Wide Media invest in these redesigns and new platforms?

TG: The redesign and visual identity for all our platforms were done in-house by our award-winning art directors Cathy Mullaly and Ben Oliver. All our coding and digital development was done by Canada Wide's in-house development team. The massive investment came when we signed on with Adobe to be able to publish iPad editions in the future. 

J-Source: How has advertising revenue in the magazine changed as a result of these changes? 

TG: It's too early to tell. The print advertising hasn't moved much but our sales team is educating our clientele about our digital services and audience engagement capabilities that complement the print messaging. 

 

 

 

Tamara Baluja is an award-winning journalist with CBC Vancouver and the 2018 Michener-Deacon fellow for journalism education. She was the associate editor for J-Source from 2013-2014.