«

»

Nov 12 2009

Goodbye, CJ

CJ emailEarlier today, the Twitter grapevine tweeted the news that UK construction industry weekly magazine Contract Journal (CJ) and its website, contractjournal.com, is to be shut down from the end of this month. The announcement by parent company Reed Business Information was made in an email (a tweet from Kirstie Colledge of Simply Marcomms prompted me to look in my old BIW inbox – bingo!), and – having written more than once about CJ’s online presence in my blog at ExtranetEvolution.com – I quickly cut and pasted the relevant paragraph into a blog post about the closure.

Contract Journal has been a fixture of the UK construction market for 130 years, but faced a double whammy. First, like many newspapers and magazines it suffered from dwindling circulation in the face of the digital onslaught (Laura Oliver’s Journalism.co.uk story points out that other RBI titles have also been forced into redundancies, in addition to the six at CJ; yesterday saw news of 100 redundancies at the Guardian media group). Second, CJ was also focused on an industry that has borne the brunt of the current recession. With too many firms chasing too few contracts at too tight margins, construction firms going bust daily, recruitment almost at a stand-still, and hard-pressed survivors cutting their marketing expenditure, it was perhaps inevitable that CJ – so dependent on advertising – would be at risk.

Not just the magazine

The closure also has repercussions for other CJ products. Brian Green’s almost unremittingly gloomy Brickonomics blog should, I think, survive, but other CJ efforts to embrace web 2.0 and build relationships with readers will probably disappear. (Update – 4 December 2009Brickonomics has been resurrected courtesy of UBM’s Building magazine – credit also to Reed’s Adam Tinworth who helped deliver the transfer.)

CJ’s two major awards programmes will also vanish from the calendar. Construction PR and marketing people will no longer spend hours each spring polishing entries for CJ’s Construction Industry Awards, or working out seating plans for the awards dinner each autumn (apparently the engraved trophies from this year’s event have just been despatched to the winners). And CJ’s Best Places to Work in Construction (which probably no longer include RBI) won’t be challenging AEC firms’ HR departments either.

The gut reaction from many industry PR and marketing people will almost certainly be one of sadness. We have lost a venerable title, six journalists (some of them long-standing friends and experienced industry-watchers and opinion-formers) stand to lose their jobs, and there will be one fewer weekly to which we can pitch our news stories and feature ideas, buy advertising space, or look for sponsorship and publicity spin-offs from events.

So where next?

Emap’s weekly Construction News clearly stands to pick up some of the advertisers but it is by no means clear how that publication is going to cope with the changing media environment. It is about to enter uncharted waters by imposing a subscription model on its online content, and UBM’s Building magazine’s recent reintroduction of reader registration hints that it may also bring down a paywall on some of its website content. Both publications are also investing in social media and in online and offline events and awards programmes.

But maybe, in the current media environment, now is a good time for us PR people and marketeers to rethink our focus on publishers and to augment some of the tools we have tended to rely upon (literature, events, hospitality, direct marketing, email, corporate websites, etc).

I would argue the recession makes this a good time to look at cost-effective ways of communicating our messages direct to customers, employees, influencers, investors, regulators and other publics. Instead of regarding the digital onslaught as a threat, perhaps we should see it as an opportunity to invest in social media tools and techniques, start conversations and take a more active role in helping people formulate their own opinions about us, our companies, products and services.

2 comments

7 pings

Skip to comment form

  1. Mark Anthony

    As a former employee of Contract Journal (and its sister publication Plant Managers Journal) I have offered my own personal take on this here: http://www.demolitionnews.com/2009/11/12/sad-and-mad-at-magazines-demise/

  2. Paul

    Thanks for the link, Mark – good to have a former employee’s perspective on CJ’s demise.

    (I notice your post’s comments also include a link to a post from a Neil Edwards. Initially, I thought this was from the Construction News editor Nick Edwards, but it turned out to be the chief executive of the Builders Conference who has almost the same name.)

  1. Now BSD ceases publication too « pwcom 2.0

    […] its final edition after 130 years and also shuts its website and other online channels (see post), with the loss of six journalist jobs. This closure further reduces the number of print […]

  2. @ContractJournal – now the voice of its crowd « pwcom 2.0

    […] Jump to Comments When UK construction magazine Contract Journal shut down in November (see post), I lamented Reed’s decision and wondered what would become of some of its ancillary online […]

  3. Will Mann heads new AEC forum « pwcom 2.0

    […] Mann heads new AEC forum Jump to Comments Following the November demise of Contract Journal (post), various former CJ journalists are popping up in new roles, with Will Mann the latest to […]

  4. Construction Enquirer misses Twitter trick « pwcom 2.0

    […] e-newsletter service started today. Following last November’s demise of Contract Journal (see Goodbye, CJ), this new venture is managed by two former CJ journalists, Aaron Morby and Grant Prior, and in a […]

  5. Construction Enquirer misses Twitter trick | The pwcom blog

    […] e-newsletter service started today. Following last November’s demise of Contract Journal (see Goodbye, CJ), this new venture is managed by two former print journalists, Aaron Morby and Grant Prior, and in […]

  6. Will Mann heads new AEC forum | The pwcom blog

    […] the November demise of Contract Journal (post), various former CJ journalists are popping up in new roles, with Will Mann the latest to […]

  7. Now BSD ceases publication too | The pwcom blog

    […] its final edition after 130 years and also shuts its website and other online channels (see post), with the loss of six journalist jobs. This closure further reduces the number of print […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>