By DENNIS GRUBAUGH
More than five years ago, when I hitched my wagon to the Illinois Business Journal team, I wanted to try new and different techniques to market our brand.
My partner, Al Ortbals, and the newspaper’s founder, Kerry Smith, had done yeoman’s work building the print edition, and for that I’m forever thankful. We’ve got a successful newspaper in an era when most print media around the world is floundering. We fill a niche, and as Ms. Smith is fond of saying, “We fill it well.”
What we didn’t have back in 2013 was a solid electronic presence, and we needed to catch up to the modern era of publishing. The Internet and social media were begging for the IBJ’s attention, and with my partner’s encouragement I embarked on a mission to improve what we were doing. The trick was to improve things without losing focus on the most important thing we do, which is producing a monthly print edition.
Today, after a long period of trial and error, we have a regularly updated website (ibjonline.com), we’ve got a growing presence on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, and now, as of January, we have IBJ Digital News, a weekly newsletter sent out by email and cross-connecting everything we do.
For the newsletter, we started with an email list of people with whom we’ve built business relationships through the years, some dating back to the day we published our first print edition in October 2000.
I’m happy to say that many more people have signed up to get the newsletter in the month since it rolled out. We have a link on our website that allows readers to authorize a quick connection. Look for something that says, “Click here to receive IBJ Digital News.”
The newsletter service is free and offers recipients a chance to keep up to date on business and related news affecting the Southwestern Illinois market. It gives us one more chance to reach our readers. We have links on the newsletter touting stories running on the website, upcoming items in the print edition, and helpful information about who we are, what we do and why you should be paying attention. And we try to feature things that will catch somebody’s fancy.
If something big is coming up, we’ll let people know to be watching for it. For instance, “Industry Leaders of Southwestern Illinois,” our annual special-section salute to news-making companies in our market, is running in the March print edition. I mentioned the section in a recent newsletter as a reminder to those businesses wanting to participate. People who are in that edition get the benefit of seeing it both in print and on line. That is a great way for a business to promote itself, and those stories and advertisements get shared time and again.
We are in the business of promoting the business of Southwestern Illinois, not only what happens here but what happens that is of interest to the people here. It’s our job to be informative, relevant, analytical and reliable. We do it by being business advocates — both critics and cheerleaders. Now, we have an extra tool in the box to build our brand.
If you haven’t seen IBJ Digital News, please sign up for it at www.ibjonline.com.
Dennis Grubaugh is editor and partner of the Illinois Business Journal. He can be reached at [email protected] or (618) 977-6865.
By DENNIS GRUBAUGH