Keith Fox is no rookie when it comes to the BusinessWeek brand. Fox joined the McGraw-Hill Companies in 2000 as vice president of marketing and business development for the magazine. He helped launch a number of BusinessWeek-branded products, and initiated the magazine’s online presence.
In 2004, Fox was named president of McGraw-Hill Professional, a print and digital products unit. Now, Fox has come full circle. In mid-April, he took the helm as president of the BusinessWeek group as editor Steve Adler, art director Andrew Horton, and their respective teams were handling the magazine’s first major redesign in four years.
FOLIO: caught up with Fox early last month to find out what went into BusinessWeek’s new look, the strategy behind it, and how the magazine stacks up against the competition.
FOLIO: This redesign marks a major change for BusinessWeek. How do you describe the redesign?
Fox: It would probably be best to call this a relaunch. We have taken 18 months to create this design, which was based on market research and reader input. In our research, two-thirds of respondents said that they want information they can absorb quickly and want a format to find information easily, and we thought these were areas of opportunity. The goal of the relaunch was to enhance the reader’s experience and to update the magazine to have a 21st century appeal.
There are a number of new elements, but to name just a few, we are expanding "The Business Week" section to give our readers a quick view of need-to-know developments. We created a new feature called "Links" that appends smart outside content to our own reported stories. And we created the "What’s Next" section with forward-looking perspective.
FOLIO: I assume this redesign is in part a way for BW to reposition itself against the competition. How has Portfolio’s appearance on the scene changed how the BW team thought about its design?
Fox: The redesign was not done in reaction to our competitors. We are always looking at ways to serve our readers better. BusinessWeek is timely, concise and useful and we will continue to focus on our mission to be a must-read for smart, forward-thinking professionals.
FOLIO: The consumer business magazine category has been hurting. How does BW stack up?
Fox: BusinessWeek’s print edition has always been our cornerstone. Our category has suffered from the decline in advertising, but we have received an overwhelmingly positive reaction from a broad list of advertisers who have seen the prototype, and we are confident that it will positively affect advertising. We will continue to look for businesses that complement and strengthen our brand. For example, we are about to launch BusinessWeek Chicago in November, and if successful we will roll out that model to other cities in the future. BusinessWeek.com‘s traffic continues to grow, and the expanded content channels we’ve recently launched offer us broader advertising opportunities and a larger, more diverse audience.
FOLIO: How would you characterize how BW’s reader usage patterns are changing?
Fox: More than ever, our audience is turning to TV, the Web, and their Blackberries to get their business news, and we have responded by transforming BusinessWeek into a multi-platform organization. We know that we are on the right track since, at 4.8 million readers, BusinessWeek’s audience is the largest it’s been since 1998. And BusinessWeek.com has attracted 6.5 million monthly users-three times as many as in 2005.
Obviously, clients look for cross-media synergies and integrated opportunities. Advertisers continue to demand return on investments, accountability, breakthrough positioning, impact units and fractional units. Lastly, they want us to create turnkey solutions.