Grid, Week 2: Inside view from the publisher, plus new pages

Publisher: “We’re going like hell and trying to do something great – there are no rules here.”

It’s always great to see a client move into the second week and beyond after a new launch, and not see any evidence of working out the kinks. Thus is the case with this batch of pages from Grid, the new weekly business magazine from Sun-Times Media Group in Chicago. Printed on magazine stock, it stands out from routine newspaper supplements. You can read an earlier account of the project launch (Feb. 3, 2013) here. Interspersed with these images of excellent Week 2 pages (from Art Director Bryan Barker) are some thoughts about the strategy behind the new publication, shared by Brandon Copple, Grid publisher and General Manager for Sun-Times parent company Wrapports.

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Ron Reason: With all the challenges and cutbacks the Sun-Times has faced in recent years – the paper’s business pages have been particularly hard hit at times – how hard has it been to get a new product like this off the ground?

Brandon Copple: Getting something new off the ground is always incredibly difficult – but we’ve had tremendous support from the company. Grid was conceived as an attempt to reverse the decline in business coverage, to speak to an audience that has become underserved. So the company is investing, and I had lots of help.

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RR: Why a business publication? Isn’t the market saturated already, in a city like Chicago?

BC: Nope. Just the opposite in fact. There’s only a single local business news source that anybody really reads (Crain’s). They are, of course, an outstanding publication with a deservedly loyal following in the city. But it’s a big town. We think there’s room for another voice.

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RR: Describe the audiences for readership, or advertising, that you are going after that may be under-served.

BC: The audience is, broadly speaking, Chicago professionals and business owners. Specifically, we want to speak to a wide spectrum of that class – from early-stage entrepreneurs to small-business owners to middle managers looking for a leg up. We want to be a resource to help them all succeed.

RR: You are departing from newsprint stock and shape to print Grid in traditional magazine format. Obviously this costs more, so what are the benefits?

BC: Grid is all about people. The book is loaded with faces – and we want our readers to feel like they’re seeing these people and relating to them as they would if they met in real life. So only glossy will do. Plus it’s just so much prettier.

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RR: The publication will exist across media, obviously, into web and iPad products, and into related ventures as well. What can you tell us about the cross-brand strategy you have in mind? (networking site, blogs, events, partnerships, etc.)

BC: We want to be a resource across all those platforms – and we’ll try to use the capabilities and strengths of each platform in a way that serves our goals and our audience.

RR: This sounds like a time of stabilization and reinvention for Sun-Times Media, especially since they brought you in to help envision other new products and ventures that fall outside traditional, and challenged, newspapering lines. Anything else you can reveal about what’s in store for the coming year?

BC: Change. More new products, within Grid and without. Lots of mistakes, pivots, adjustments. We’re going like hell and trying to do something great – there are no rules here.

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For a Flickr album of a sampling of prototype and live pages from this project, link here.

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1 Comment

  1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts about magazine design. Regards

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