Launching a publication: 2015-style

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FCN cover
The first Florida Construction News magazine edition. Click on the image and you'll go to the page-turning version.
The first Florida Construction News magazine edition. Click on the image and you'll go to the page-turning version.
The first Florida Construction News magazine edition. Click on the image and you’ll go to the page-turning version.

Yesterday, after some final revisions and checks, I hit “send” and published Florida Construction News online. We also sent a small order to our printers to generate a few print-on-demand (PoD) copies, primarily for early advertisers.

A larger PoD run is on its way, but I’ve learned in the digital age to take a week or so to catch errors or problems before processing that distribution. Print errors are irreversible — digital errors can be corrected, generally, within a few minutes.

As it was, late last night, just before I instructed our email program to send out the notification to thousands of Florida contractors, architects, engineers and sub-trades on our electronic database, publisher Brooke McDonald noticed a font error on the cover. Should we hold the publication? I thought, since we had only discovered the mistake after more than a week for review and proofing, probably the readers wouldn’t mind, and we can certainly correct it in the longer-run digital revision stage.

Brooke is in Chicago, and I’m in Ottawa, and I’ll only meet Brooke face-to-face in a few weeks when we invite her here for our company’s annual planning meeting.

The Florida title had been in gestation for two years. I thought we had found someone to be a local publisher there — in fact, as I was in the area for a Society for Marketing Professional Services (SMPS) conference (in Orlando), I met her a bit further north in Jacksonville, and so I purchased the domain and set up the website. The original publisher failed to stick it out, but I left the website online, maintaining it sporadically.

Interestingly, and perhaps quite significantly, Google began indexing the site, giving it reasonable prominence and inquiries started arriving on the advertising inquiries form. I generally ignored these. However, when Brooke started achieving success in Chicago, and she handled her tasks admirably well originally in a fill-in basis for North Carolina Construction News, we decided it wouldn’t hurt to add Florida to the schedule.

She built relationships, the inbound inquiries continued to arrive, and we co-ordinated the editorial, resulting in yesterday’s launch.

This is publishing in the digital age. The distribution is primarily electronic, but printing can be co-ordinated through print-on-demand services, with costs low enough that the price for an individual printed subscription would be about the same as in the old print-only days. (However, we will restrict printed distribution as a rule to paying subscribers, unlike the “old days” of controlled circulation trade publications, where we would distribute thousands of copies of printed magazines to unpaid but purportedly qualified readers. That distribution can now be covered well enough electronically, of course.)

In reviewing the Floridaconstructionnews.com title I’m satisfied we’ve produced a solid magazine with staying power. The production costs can be sustained and the business can grow. It’s fun to create new things.

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