2013 PRSA Capital Region Outstanding Communicator Interview

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10-2-2009, Women Who Mean Business, held at Glen SandersWe recently interviewed Carolyn Jones, Publisher of the Albany Business Review. She will receive the 2013 Capital Region Chapter Outstanding Communicator Award at the Empire Awards on November 12, 2013.

1. In what ways have you incorporated new communication ideas into your role as publisher?

We have found new ways to connect with our readers and our community.  Our events, our email products, our social platforms all allow us to communicate with more people on more levels. This helps to drive the conversation, generate news and create connections to the community.

2. News media has been changing rapidly. What are some of the ways you’ve changed the Albany Business Review to adapt?  

Our business is constantly changing, that is what makes it so much fun.  But change can be hard too, and we have had to change a lot both on the content side and the business side.  From a content standpoint, we are a digital first medium and then use our weekly print edition to expand on the digital content, provide a deeper look at issues and expand the research we do for our lists.  We changed job descriptions in our newsroom to match the digital first philosophy.  Our reporters and editors need to embrace and expand their use of social media as part of the news stream. Reporters shoot video as part of their interviews. We have become a 24/7 news operation, not a weekly print publication.  Delivering quality content and great journalism to our users remains our top priority.  On the business side digital advertising and events are constantly growing and will continue to be primary drivers of growth.

3. Not long ago, you just changed the look of the paper including the name. Why and what steps went into rolling it out?    

That has been an exciting process. Part of the change started with our parent company, American City Business Journals, spearheading a major investment in the reinvention and redesign of our products.  Mario Garcia, who is one of the leaders in newspaper design, worked with us on creating a dynamic and engaging format. We did focus groups both locally and nationally, talking to users on all platforms about how and where they got their news, what information they wanted, and what more they were looking for from our products and news in general.  The result is a format and visual experience that enables the reader to find content easily and presents it in a way that fits mobile and tablet viewing as well.  The reader gets a deep look at issues, a digest of weekly news and expanded content.  We streamlined our nameplate, giving it a clean, crisp look and using “Albany Business Review” works most effectively for identifying our region both inside and outside the area. Additionally, it gives us the best results for SEO and SEM.

4. What do you feel is the most important skill a communications professional could have in today’s market? 

Honesty and integrity along with clear communication is key for me.  It is most important to be up front about what it is you want when dealing with others in business, and not to be afraid to ask for that.  It is extremely important to have an understanding of the business that you are dealing with, and respect their goals and values then you can work with them to meet your goals.  Clarity of communication is essential, whether it is writing an email, discussing a project or pretty much anything. Understanding and expertise in communication on all platforms: print, digital and social is key.

5. What is on your must read list for communicators? (Book, article, blog, etc.) 

Well, of course, the Albany Business Review.  For me, I read a lot of business and general news, like BusinessWeek, Washington Post, and the New York Times. I also look at a lot of digital media like TalkingBiz News and BurrellesLuce.  As far as books, Mario Garcia’s Ipad Design Lab is a great tool for designers and others – and I think everyone can learn from Jim Collin’s book “Good to Great.”

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