This was the coolest launch I’ve ever been a part of.”
That’s how Hanley Wood Business Media president Peter Goldstone describes the 2006 launch of Architect. The magazine’s launch coincided with the Business Media group’s merger of its magazine and e-media operations, enabling the Architect brand to have a print and e-media play right from the start.
“Architect was Hanley Wood’s first to launch parallel with the magazine and Web site,” Goldstone says. “Everyone who was involved with starting the magazine was also involved in the e-media launch. We didn’t talk about the magazine without talking about the Web play at the same time. We didn’t have two separate operating teams working in silos. It was completely integrated and seamless.”
The idea of creating a magazine targeting the commercial construction space was on the table before Hanley Wood was acquired by CCMP Capital Advisors in August 2005. The company assembled a team of 20 executives—including major group publishers, chief editors and stakeholders—to help develop the Architect concept and launch the product. The team spent two years of due diligence, assessing the market opportunity. The time was also spent hiring staffers and creating technology platforms for the Web site.
“The notion was that since Builder is at the hub of everything we do in residential construction, we thought we needed a hub for commercial construction. That’s where Architect came in,” says Goldstone. “There was a gap where none of the magazines in the market focused on the people and products and practice—they just focused on the big beautiful projects. Architect connects the projects with the people that are doing them, the products going into them and the business information of how to run a viable architectural practice. We’re doing that both in print and online.”
Big Launch, Big Return
What differentiated the launch of Architect from a number of other b-to-b launches is the time and amount of money that was spent pre-launch, Goldstone says. Shortly after the launch, Hanley Wood purchased Architecture and Architectural Lighting, and folded the content of each into Architect.
“This was sort of an old school launch in that we knew it would take some major initial losses but that the idea was big enough to sustain the investment,” Goldstone says. Architect launched with two issues in 2006 and immediately went monthly in 2007. With the two acquisitions, the company was due to lose at least $2 million in its first year. But, the publisher generated $5 million in revenue and instead broke even in the first full year of the magazine’s operation.
Today, Architect has a controlled circulation of 60,000 and the Web site features original content including Web-first stories, slideshows, video, podcast interviews, blogs, interactive maps and continuing education learning programs. The Architect staff uses a combination of the K4 publishing system and Adobe’s InDesign and InCopy programs to manage the magazine’s design and editorial workflow, and to convert easily from print to Web.
“The two formats have their own particular strengths and weaknesses,” says editor-in-chief Ned Cramer. “Architects are highly visual people and the graphic freedom and photographic richness of a magazine strongly appeal to them. But architects, like every professional group, rely more and more on the Web as a fast and convenient way to gather and exchange information.”
More recently, Hanley Wood this fall developed Hanley Wood TV, a product that spans the company’s Web sites. Architect TV is set to launch online early next year. It will feature editorial content such as construction practices and product information.
In today’s growing e-media marketplace, Goldstone urges that anyone considering a magazine launch to invest equally in its companion Web site. “A great magazine will support a great Web site and a great Web site will support a great magazine. Having either a lousy magazine or a lousy Web site, in today’s market, will inevitably drag down your brand. You have to be ready to make the right type of investment and have enough resources.”