Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Changes at Business Week

There is a cliché that “style is not as important as substance, but people won’t notice your substance if you lack style.” Business Week magazine has undergone a very serious style change this month – the first in four years. I know why magazines are doing such these days, they are trying to figure out how to compete against the Internet, they like the buzz (even if it is bad, I presume) that any change brings, and there are often substantive reasons for a change in format.

The magazine contends that the changes are intended to make the publication easier to navigate and better to read. Furthermore, the change is also in content with a shift from executive lifestyle to more hard business news. I assume that those changes are fostered by the invasion of the Wall Street Journal Weekend Edition and the heavy emphasis placed by magazines such as Forbes and Fortune in this arena. Furthermore, I always liked Business Week for being focused on the real world of business and am glad to see it return to its roots. It is among the reasons it is one of my favorite business publications.

When I first saw the magazine’s new design I noticed the McGraw-Hill label prominently displayed. When I think of McGraw-Hill, I think of textbooks. This publication is decades old and has always been owned by the book publisher, but I had no idea. Historically, it has been about the content, not the content provider. Those days are gone and now every company is doing everything it can to promote its brand and that would include McGraw-Hill.

That label, the slightly larger size, and the wider margins gave the publication a dramatically different look. It provided a look that I have to describe as some what “academic.” Unfortunately, most of us gave up publications with an academic look when we were in college. Some even ceremoniously burned the books used that final semester to put the whole experience behind them, though I won’t mention any names.

It is too early to say I don’t like the changes. I need to spend a little more time with them. The truth is, however, I will get most of my Business Week content online like I have for the last several years. I hope they don’t take an academic approach there. Those university web sites seem very complicated.

Order Kevin Price's audio program The Accumulators, which explains the impact that the Internet is having on marketing and consumer behavior. It is available online here for only $10 plus p and h. Receive the Houston Business Review e-zine free each week by clicking here.

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