Interview with Brian Boyle – Publisher of Electronic Magazines
Brian Boyle is a publisher at Issue Media Group, a company that creates online electronic magazines (e-zines) that focus on growth, investment and remarkable people leading communities into the new economy. Issue Media Group e-zines help build a positive image for locations and initiatives. What is really cool about the e-zine model is the ability to leverage the publication in other promotion by simply sharing the url. I decided to tap into Brian’s experience in working with economic development professionals across the nation to get a better understanding of the strategic role e-zines are beginning to play in place branding.
- A community’s image (what others think about it) is often a key consideration in being competitive for capital investment. Let me ask the obvious, how can a location’s image help or hurt it in economic development? Are there any instructive examples you can share to illustrate the impact?
Nobody, and this is particularly true for businesses, wants to be associated with a loser. This is a very simple premise. Once Dublin’s image became hot the business climate exploded. The same is true for Austin, Portland, Seattle, Dubai … Pick a place. I would suggest image enhancements start from within – magnifying the need to build buzz and excitement with EXISTING business rather than focus all energies on attract new business.
A growing and energized business community is a key value driver for improving a place image.
- Question: How about how a community feels about themselves? Can this impact a location’s economic development success or is it pretty much a matter of how competitive the assets are that you have?
One of the first things a CEO will often do when considering moving their business is call peers in the market. (and the first thing his or her spouse is going to is call like minded families in the market.) How a community feels about itself is a key value driver in converting business and talent. Minneapolis is a great example of a community with a strong sense of itself – everyone raves about living there and the business climate. It also happens to be a cold, mid-western city that is growing. Conversely, Pittsburgh has wonderful assets BUT not nearly the self esteem of Minneapolis. (lack of self esteem has been cited as a barrier in attracting business in some economic development research.) Imagine the impact of everyone waking up tomorrow and telling the world what a great place Pittsburgh was to live and do business. The good news is that Pittsburg is taking action to address this barrier.
- Question: Issue Media Group helps communities become more positive about themselves and stay better informed about what is going on through the publication of an electronic magazine that shares positive stories. What are some of the unexpected positive impacts you’ve seen from the e-zine executions that IMG has launched? How does publishing the stories turn into positive buzz?
I get really excited to hear from people and business that used one of our publications as a tool to actually make the decision to MOVE. One of my favorites stories is a 24 year old that was reading Model D from Japan while studying the slow brew coffee industry. He read a story about a slow brew coffee business that was going to open up in Detroit – and called the owner suggesting he had to be part of it. He moved to Detroit a week later as the head barrista of the new business.
- Question: How have your clients leveraged e-zines to promote their communities for capital attraction and expansion?
The holy grail in marketing success is creating REAL and credible differentiation. Michigan (in addition to about a billion other places) is making the claim (and a legitimate one) that it is a great state for business interested in growing in the alternative energy sector. How does a state substantiate the claim? Last years IMG created over 500 stories about alternative energy growth in Michigan which have been leveraged by the state web sites and dditional marketing channels to support the claimWe are also work closely with partners to develop customized re-uses of IMG content for their purposes. Thrive, a coalition of northern Kentucky economic development groups, publishes a dynamic monthly newsletter which a blend of our Soapbox publication and content that we develop with Thrive. The demand for these type of customized content programs has been tremendous and will be a big part of our business moving forwards.
- Question: What makes for a successful e-zine execution, and what are the typical challenges communities have to address to ensure success?
The barriers to entry in the e-newsletter space are significant – and getting higher all the time. Compelling content and design are now a base-level requirement in getting people interest and attention. Communities simply don’t allocate appropriate resources and talent in creating e-marketing programs that matter to people NOW.
- Question: If a community is interested in an e-zine execution, how should they organize and what should they do?
Key number one is to work together. A broad cross-section of community stakeholders needs access to content about what makes a community special. SHARE IN THE CREATION OF THE CONTENT! Once you have access to your community’s story and assets – you can start to work through issue related to frequency, design messaging etc. Without an understanding of how you will drive sustained and compelling content don’t go any further. But, when you are ready give us a call, we’ll be happy to help you on your journey.