The Business Moment
So, who are these mysterious people who bring you the business moment anyway? Peter Kent goes behind the scenes to discover how it came about, why it set out to be unlike a business magazine and how a Shared vision keeps the editorial team inspired – and even aims to transform the way business is done in the city
“I don’t see why we can’t produce worldclass material at local level and it still be free,” says publisher Mark Wilson.
At a time when doubt is more widespread than confidence, such an upbeat attitude is refreshing. But it also encapsulates the whole philosophy behind the Business Moment, and the reason both it and its sister publication, the Moment, came into being.
“I wanted to show there is a better way. Everybody is busy, so if you want people to spend time reading your content, then it’s got to be good. And if you can bind people to the page with the quality of the content, you can connect people,” continues Mark.
When first talking to the editorial team behind the Business Moment and trying to find out what makes them tick, it’s this fundamental principle that emerges loud and clear. that, and something slightly more surprising. Puzzling, even. Because if there’s one thing they’re all agreed upon, it’s
that they never much liked business magazines.
“To be honest, with a few rare exceptions, I found them pretty boring and inaccessible, often the topics are very dry, and visually they are completely uninspiring. You should be able to actually read and enjoy a business magazine, not feel like you are studying a report…” says deputy Editor Tamsin Cocks.
“I always gravitated away from business titles, they weren’t palatable to me. Also a lot of them were quite specialist, and unless you were in that market sector, why would you read them? In some sectors they may have been required reading – but if someone has to be required to read something, that’s not a great beginning,” adds Mark.
“We all shared a sense of frustration with what was out there. We felt those publications filled with grey men in grey suits just weren’t for us – even though we’re all in business ourselves, and excited about what we do. Where was that excitement on those magazines? I found little in them that related to me as an individual or a businessperson,” says editor Toby Venables.
Paradoxical though it may at first seem, all feel this made them the ideal people to create a new business title. “Identifying what’s missing in the market is sound business, of course, but if we could make a business magazine that could grab such a sceptical audience as us, we knew it would also grab all those others who felt similarly left out in the cold,” says Toby.
The Business Moment was launched in November 2012 as a purely digital offering, available
free as a virtual magazine online, or as an app that could be downloaded from Apple’s newsstand.
But it did not appear out of nowhere. the whole story really begins with the Moment – the free printed lifestyle and what’s-on magazine that native Peterborian Mark launched back in 2010.
Success had come early in Mark’s career. He had begun his professional life in sales at EMAP, working on prestigious titles such as today’s Golfer and Athletics Weekly.
“I was only 19-20 years of age but was having dinner with the Prime Minister, John Major! I was lucky – you always need a bit of luck – but I also worked bloody hard.”
He was consistently ranked amongst the top three advertising sales executives, and rose swiftly through the ranks to become Group Advertising Manager, going on to work as publisher at Kelsey Publishing Ltd. Amongst other things, whilst there he oversaw the development of Running Fitness magazine, which showed the largest sales growth in the sector during that period, and managed the
advertising within Grow it! and Country Kitchen magazines, achieving record advertising sales.
Then, one evening in 2010 he found himself chilling out in front of the TV, contemplating where to go next in his career.
“I was sat watching Pineapple Dance Studio…” (Believe it or not, Mark studied contemporary dance before heading into publishing.) “And there was Louie Spence, doing his stuff. He’s obviously very theatrical and over the top. But he’s totally unapologetic. That’s just him.”
And that was when Mark had what he calls his “lightbulb moment” – pun definitely intended.
“At the time I was looking for another job in publishing, and trying to conform to what I thought were other people’s ideas of what I needed to be. Then I suddenly thought ‘This is bullshit. What am I doing this for? I can do this myself better than most other people are doing it!”
He didn’t sleep a wink that night, and by morning The Moment had been entirely mapped out.
“It just felt right, and all the ideas came. It was the same with The Business Moment – but it was easier. I started The Moment with no network in place whatsoever. I was just pounding the pavements. But two years down the line, we could stand on the shoulders of a magazine that was already established, and which by then had a reputation as a quality product. And a lot of our stories in The Moment were about local businesses anyway, so it was a natural progression. Also the title worked: The Business Moment. That kind of says all you need to know.”
The Moment had built that reputation on human interest stories, and Mark could see no reason why The Business Moment should be any different.
“There wasn’t anything like that in the market. I looked at a lot of business magazines that were trying so desperately hard to portray an ‘acceptable’, very corporate image of business, but to me that isn’t really what business is. And it never was. They all end up pushing the same, calculated, but quite bland image, so you get something that is very uniform and formulaic. Very safe, with not much emotion. And one thing I’m sure of is there’s a lot of emotion in business. The real driver is the people and what makes them tick. That’s why The Moment worked – it’s about the people.”
Mark wasn’t just publisher of The Moment, of course. He was editor, salesperson, creative director… When it came to the new publication, however, he knew he was going to need help to develop it and cover the editorial roles if he was going to have any time to run the business. Fortunately, it was The Moment’s established network that brought him into contact with just the people.
“It happened very quickly…I was on the phone to Mark – who at the time I hadn’t even met – about an interview feature I was writing for The Moment. The conversation began to range far and wide, as it still tends to do when we chat, and we talked about interviewing, and the principles of good stories – fundamentals, really – and then Mark mentioned a potential business title. My heart sank at the mere phrase,” Toby recalls. An hour later, however, everything had changed.
“I soon realised that Mark was as bored by business magazines as I was, and wanted something different. Suddenly, I was interested. By the end of the conversation, I was the editor,” Toby adds.
“Toby totally got it, from the first time we spoke. But it was also about ‘Can I work with this guy?’ To be able to get on with somebody and share the same vision is so, so important. I’ve always ‘got’ people very quickly, and I can work out within a short time whether I can work with them. I’ve been very lucky to find the guys I work with, editorially,” says Mark.
Whether by luck or design, the right connection was made, and Mark wasted no time moving things forward.
“I emerged from that conversation slightly exhausted, but also completely enthused – and with both of us pretty much knowing exactly what needed to be done,” Toby finishes. Mark shrugs.
“I’m not one to stand by. You’ve just got to get on and do things… The truth is, I go on gut feeling and nine times out of ten that’s right. And I think that’s true of most businesspeople.”