The early results of American City Business Journals‘ overhaul of its San Jose, Calif., paper has resulted in a growth in circulation, online readers and revenue, so the Charlotte-based owner of 40 business weeklies plans to begin rolling out the changes to its other papers.
“We’re pretty close to rolling out the design in other markets,” said Emory Thomas, the chief content officer at ACBJ and the former editor and publisher of its Seattle paper, in a telephone interview Thursday with Talking Biz News.
Thomas declined to name the first markets to implement the changes, citing the desire of its local publishers to use the redesign for marketing purposes. And he also declined to give specifics about the results in San Jose other than to say the paper was in the top two within the company for circulation growth in the first quarter and that its online page views have been stronger in 2013 every month than any of the months in 2012.
“We’re happy with what we’re seeing in San Jose, and happy with the results and reactions by the newsrooms that are embracing this content strategy in other markets as well,” said Thomas.
All of the ACBJ papers have rolled out a new home page, but the Silicon Valley Business Journal is the only one to have implemented all of the editorial changes, which focus on three major approaches, under editor Greg Baumann.
Those three areas are:
- The centerpiece cover story, digging into an event that people don’t know about. “It’s a nice deep dive with a multifaceted story play,” said Thomas. “We are aiming high on page one. That has worked well in San Jose. One of the questions was whether we can hit this week after week? Do we have the right staff in place to do this? And the answer has been yes.
- Reporter pages within the paper, focusing on the reporter as a brand. “It’s something that we have embraced here,” said Thomas. “People follow people.”
- Expanding its lists and databases, or telling the stories behind the numbers. “Those stories have always been there…but we’re telling more of them now in an expanded lists section,” said Thomas. “Readers really just love that.
The results have also helped improve the company’s business journalism.
“We just find that we’re getting good interviews and getting pieces that get a lot of social traffic,” said Thomas. “Our social media metrics have risen sharply in San Jose.”