It was the early 1980s and Hubert Hutton, a former retailer and travelling sales representative, made the unlikely decision to join the magazine industry. He didn’t know anything about layout or design or photography or circulation or freelancers or advertising or distribution or … you get the picture. But he was transitioning between jobs at the time and thought this seemed as likely a direction as any. With a whynot shrug, an eagerness to learn and his trademark positivity, Hubert was in.
Which makes it sound so much easier than it was. Ask him about the early days, and he’ll tell you about the near impossibility of selling advertising in a product that didn’t exist. He’ll tell you how he carried a “dummy” publication from prospective client to prospective client, its pages consisting of pseudo stories he’d glued together with ads cut from national magazines. With that rudimentary visual in hand, he went about the business of telling, and selling, his story to both local businesses and national agencies. Unbelievably, amazingly, it worked.
When it launched in 1983, Newfoundland Lifestyle was a quarterly publication. Within a few years, its frequency had increased 50 per cent. In 1989, the company evolved yet again with the addition of Atlantic Lifestyle Business to the publishing mix (later renamed Atlantic Business Magazine). Though Newfoundland Lifestyle was gradually phased out, Hubert moved on to launch Natural Resources Magazine, our now thricea- year compendium of regional resourcedevelopment news.
He may have been a neophyte when he started, but Hubert is today the grand poobah of magazine publishing in Atlantic Canada. Along the road to creating what is now the longest-publishing, highest circulation and most award-winning regional business magazine in Atlantic Canada, he’s forgotten more than many publishers could dream of knowing. Still, the lessons of that hard knocks schooling are timeless: the importance of strategic distribution and reader loyalty, the need to embrace change and invest in technology, the signifi cance of great content and relationship building. I think, though, that the true source of Hubert’s longevity in this industry is his willingness to listen – to his clients, his peers, his staff and perhaps most importantly, his readers. You know what they call a magazine without readers? Defunct.
Atlantic Business Magazine, now celebrating its 25th anniversary, is obviously far from defunct. Our lively, interactive relationship with readers is evident on every page of the redesigned issue you hold in your hand.
When we started this process, we asked you to describe what this magazine meant to you and we adopted the four most frequentlyused adjectives as our new motto: smart, sophisticated, provocative, powerful. These words were the benchmark for every change we made – from the fresh fonts and revised logo, to the expanded white space and stronger photography, as well as our two new columns (welcome Eleanor Beaton and Michael de Adder).
We renamed our upfront section The Water Cooler to reflect its intended purpose: to provide readers with interesting and sometimes offbeat information you might share with colleagues during your morning coffee break (or around the water cooler). We realigned our “back of book” for those natural contrarians who automatically fl ip to the end. There, after being engaged by the always provocative John Risley, each successive turn of the page will immerse you in deeper and meatier content, from our Off the Shelf book reviews to the Eureka Moments profi les to John Crosbie’s public policy insights.
As for the feature well, we’ve mixed that up too. Gone are the days of having the cover story in the same position every issue; you’ll have to do a little searching to see if it’s the fi rst, second or third feature (all in the name of keeping you on your toes).
Something else you’ll notice: every story ends with information on how you can have your say, via e-mail, Facebook, Twitter and online. We’ve even included suggested hash tags so you can track what other people are thinking about issues and topics we cover.
The magazine business isn’t any easier today than it was for Hubert back in the ’80s, but we’re confident that we’re well positioned for future success because of your continued support. Thank you for reading. •