Weaponized Handbags and a View from the Top at the BCBusiness Relaunch Event

On March 5th, the BCAMA was invited to attend Canada Wide Media’s lunchtime event, at CinCin on Robson Street, to celebrate the relaunch of their flagship publication BCBusiness. (You can read more about the relaunch in Bruce Nickson’s previous BCAMA blog posting.)

by Bruce Nickson

Until last Tuesday, I had no idea that networking was a blood sport, somewhat akin to a polite hockey game. For the ladies, the favourite check was the overstuffed-shoulder-bag-to-the-stomach slug; for the gentlemen, it was the good old hip slam. If contact was made, there was a display of teeth by way of apology. I thought I was imagining this until I checked with a good friend who is a veteran of this kind of event. She was a bit incredulous that I was so naïve. “Of course”, she said. “Where have you been, under a rock?” Apparently so.

Well, pretty much everyone was there. The great and the good and the wicked. If you wanted to get a snapshot of the Vancouver business community, then you should have been at the BCBusiness relaunch event. It was great fun. And, boy, was business ever being done. WAY too much for a networking beginner like me. And I’m old.

Editor-in-Chief Tom Gierasimczuk gave a brief talk (mostly drowned out by the aforementioned networkers) to explain the reasons behind the relaunch, as well as the results of the work done. Expect a cleaner look, an iPad version of the magazine and an intense daily digital presence. But that was all we could hear, due to the business (networking) before pleasure. (For more about the redesign, check out The how-to guide to the new BCBusiness.)

Ever gracious, Tom introduced me to the equally gracious Peter Legge (co-founder and CEO of Canada Wide Media), who agreed to chat about the publication and the new look and feel.

BN: When did you realize that you were going to revamp the publication?

Peter: We realized some time ago that we were not changing as fast as we should. And kind of coincidental to this was that a little dickey bird told us that Tom wouldn’t mind relocating to the West Coast from Toronto, where was editing Marketing magazine. It was really fortunate that Tom had strong ideas, not just about the print publication, but about the digital entity as well.

Our readers’ needs have changed a lot. They have new content needs and new ways of consuming information. This is why we have introduced the idea of a digital ‘daily’ that is relatively short and easy to consume, but of direct relevance to our readers’ needs.

BN: How do think your competitors, such as the dailies and BIV (Business in Vancouver), are going to react?

Peter: Basically, I don’t think we have any competitors. The dailies have a couple of pages a week, and BIV is more about Vancouver and less about the region.

But here’s the thing: in the surveys that we’ve read, of all Canadian markets, the market that is most interested in local business matters is BC. We’re much more interested in our own region than, for example, Calgary people or Toronto people are interested in theirs. So, from a competition point of view, I guess there’s room for everybody.

BN: Have you noticed any reaction yet from a sales point of view?

Peter: We sent our main sales people to Toronto to explain the launch to the agencies. Basically, what the agencies told us was “we want it all”. They wanted the monthly, and they wanted the digital. So, so far, the reaction has been excellent.

BN: What’s next?

Peter: For me personally? Or…

BN: Any way you’d like to answer the question.

Peter: I’m not going anywhere. I have the health and the energy to be involved on a daily basis. I want to continue to grow the company. And right now we have something new on the drawing board. A new publication.

BN: Can you tell us anything about it?

Peter: No. If I did, Gary [Gary Davies, President of Canada Wide Media] would kill me.

But I do want to tell that we’ve been profitable every year of our existence. We’ve never lost money.

BN: That’s a rare accomplishment.

Peter: I’ll tell you something I learned early on, when I was just beginning. I was at a FOLIO (now Media Next) trade show, and I saw a session about Accounting for Magazines. I thought, “This might be interesting.”

The session speaker (I forget who it was) asked, “What do you call this number at the bottom right of this spreadsheet?” Everyone answered “bottom line”. And he said, “No, it’s not. It’s called ‘what’s left over’. It’s not profit; it’s what’s left over.”

And then he said to move ‘what’s left over’ to the top of the page, adding, “That’s your starting point each year. You don’t want this number to get smaller. You want this number to get bigger.”

So, each year, we’ve had something left over. We look at that number always before we go to publication. If we have to work harder to keep or grow that number, then we do so. It’s really pretty simple. It’s easy to measure. I always want to grow ‘what’s left over’.

Bruce Nickson works in marketing and sales of engineering services. He once held the job title of Executive Director.

The BCAMA sends their thanks to BCBusiness for inviting us to their event and congratulates them on their relaunch. Thanks also to Peter Legge for his insights and for the time he took to speak to our interviewer. (And thanks to Bruce, a Marketline Committee volunteer, for attending what sounds like a very interesting – albeit somewhat bruise-inducing – networking event.)

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