Editor’s Note: The following is The Business Journal’s submission for Growth Report 2021: Together in Transformation. The Growth Report is our largest annual print edition that gives more than 200 businesses and organizations a chance to showcase how they grew in the previous year and what plans they have for this year.
We need good news and inspiration now more than ever! Submit your stories of strength, resilience and survival for Growth Report 2021 by the close of Wednesday, Jan. 20. Go to BusinessJournalDaily.com/story-submission-growth-report-2021 for more information.
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — As the news and local media industry struggles, The Business Journal expanded with new products in editorial, as well as webinars, virtual events and custom content.
Driven by increased demand for local reporting on regional and national topics – including Lordstown Motors Corp., Ultium Cells LLC and COVID-19 – The Business Journal ramped up its efforts to provide immersive enterprise stories and video throughout the year. The locally owned and operated multimedia publishing company quadrupled its audience and enjoyed a nearly 70% increase in unique pageviews for the year over 2019, reports CEO Jeff Leo Herrmann.
“The Business Journal’s commitment to fair, reliable local journalism was paramount last year as our region saw some of the largest economic development investments to date, as well as historic economic hardship,” adds publisher Andrea Wood. “While we covered projects such as Lordstown Motors every step of the way, we ensured our reports on the impact of the pandemic on small businesses – and the resources available to them – was just as thorough.”
A collaboration with ProPublica had The Business Journal reporting to a national audience as reporter Dan O’Brien conducted an investigative series on the effects of Youngstown’s enterprise zone program, using the Chill-Can project as a case study.
Similarly, reporter George Nelson’s work with the Your Voice Ohio Election 2020 project brought readers reliable information related to the presidential election amid uncertainty caused by COVID-19, ongoing racial justice issues, economic concerns and an overwhelming amount of misinformation circulated online.
With video a cornerstone of The Business Journal’s content, the company purchased new equipment this year to produce engaging new products, including webinars, podcasts and panel discussions. The flagship Daily Buzz has been revamped to a quick newscast format, favored by those who prefer a prompt update on the day’s top stories.
For the second year of Brain Gain, The Business Journal hired long-time reporter John Vargo to produce much of the content, including the new Navigator Program – monthly virtual tours of area businesses for school students and their mentors.
From a business perspective, The Business Journal saw a 23.5% increase in business, driven largely by omnichannel marketing strategies introduced by Herrmann. Leveraging its extensive readership both online and in print, the company doubled its promotional efforts with digital and print advertisements, as well as billboards.
The company also met demands for custom content among its clients, including virtual events and informational webinars. These were particularly beneficial during the pandemic, as webinars focused on the federal Paycheck Protection Program, business insurance amid COVID-19, how to work securely remotely, and reopening a clean and safe place of business.
“Webinars and podcasts opened The Business Journal up to an entirely new world of content production, and our clients jumped on the opportunity to get involved,” Herrmann says. “As we look to 2021, our goal is to maintain that momentum of content curation and activation to meet the needs of our region’s business community on a whole other level.”
In 2020, The Business Journal rolled out a new website with a login feature, allowing readers to easily renew subscriptions online. This year, the website will be brought up to speed with current standard practices of online news by introducing a paywall, allowing The Business Journal to leverage its more exclusive enterprise content.
This year, the company looks to roll out a mobile app as well, providing another platform for subscribers to access its content.