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A wellspring of insights through troubled times

By Bjorn Biel M. Beltran, Special Features Writer

It is an understatement to say the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic took everyone by surprise. And in an already struggling industry such as print media, it seemed as if BusinessWorld had the odds stacked against it during the past few years.

With characteristic awareness and journalistic spirit, however, Southeast Asia’s first and oldest business daily turned that weakness into its strength.

As part of its overall initiative to bring its brand of quality professional journalism to the digital platform, BusinessWorld launched BusinessWorld Insights, a series of online video conferences that bring together some of the country’s movers and shakers to discuss the rapidly changing Philippine business landscape, the challenges and opportunities it presents, and the trends that shape its future.

“That’s something I’m proud about in BusinessWorld. When I first came into the company, I was really impressed with the culture of how things are done. It’s very thorough, very disciplined, and there’s a certain way of delivering information that is really close to the ideas of journalism,” Lucien C. Dy Tioco, executive vice-president of BusinessWorld, said in an interview.

“I’m proud of the fact that when the pandemic happened, BusinessWorld was able to adapt well. It was easy for us to shift online, especially for our editorial team.”

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BusinessWorld Insights, he said, had leveraged the company’s decades-long history as a platform for delivering accurate and reliable news and analyses, and successfully moved it into the virtual world.

“That was really helpful for the business community, especially when everybody was in crisis and were looking for advice on how to navigate the situation. I think BusinessWorld is poised to continue to provide the information on trends and analyses that the business community is looking for,” Mr. Dy Tioco said.

“I’ve been hearing a lot of good feedback from the business community, especially during the pandemic. We were given praises for what we have been providing with BusinessWorld Insights and the BusinessWorld Virtual Economic Forum. That gives us the incentive to adapt to the times, to be of service to businesses, informing them of what to do during crises,” he added.

Jay R. Sarmiento, BusinessWorld sales and marketing director, pointed to the recognitions BusinessWorld Insights had gotten from the Philippine business community as proof of this success. “BusinessWorld Insights has been recognized by both Anvil Awards and Quill Awards for excellence in communication programs and special events. These awards are validations that our efforts are indeed worth-taking and valuable,” she said.

“I think that BusinessWorld Insights has owned the digital space in terms of online forum and discussion. From our very first once-a-month run in April 2020, BusinessWorld Insights has become synonymous to relevant online discussions on business matters that, at present, we are able to mount almost weekly public and private online forum. This initiative has not only given us growth in online audience but has also earned us the trust of advertisers as they continue to support BusinessWorld Insights through sponsorships, thereby, significantly contributing to our bottom lines.”

At a time of great disruption, BusinessWorld has managed to not only successfully pivot to the digital space but provide a wellspring of much-needed guidance and insights for other businesses struggling during the crisis. Ms. Sarmiento pointed out that this has allowed the company to develop a mutually beneficial relationship with brands and corporations, and even partner with them to deliver new, exclusive content.

Such partnerships, among many others, include Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore for cancer treatment awareness; Alveo Land for its series of wise investment seminar for its stakeholders; PayMaya series which helped local government units transformed its operations and services into the digital space so they can serve the public despite the lockdowns; and Habitat for Humanity for espousing affordable housing.

“These are well attended and engaging webinars and we got good feedback from our clients that they continue to work with us until now,” she said.

Ms. Sarmiento also emphasized, “And while we give utmost importance to our advertising partners and sponsors to keep BusinessWorld financially afloat, our respect for our editorial policy has also been of paramount consideration. To be able to balance this, we always keep the communication lines open between the editorial and marketing departments. You can say that most of our projects involving content or business information are products of constant collaboration and consultation between editorial and marketing. We have mutual respect for each other.”

Mr. Dy Tioco also stressed how important this mutual respect is to the company and to all its partners. “With the kind of content that BusinessWorld provides, it gives a good image to brands that partner with us,” he said.

He added, “I think there’s a common denominator between what brands and BusinessWorld have been doing. It’s trying to provide what the customers need. In our case, it’s the content that our readers are looking for.”

“Remember that [the interests of brands and the interests of the publication] are two sides of the same coin: BusinessWorld’s credibility serves advertisers’ interests as well. I don’t think advertisers will be attracted to any publication with an eroded brand,” Wilfredo G. Reyes, BusinessWorld editor-in-chief, said.

He further noted that it is this close connection to the business scene that continues to propel the company’s reputation in an ever-expanding spiral of growth. “Constantly keeping in close contact with our market dictates BusinessWorld’s evolution as a platform for business content,” he said.

With each session, BusinessWorld Insights, Mr. Reyes pointed out, unearths important lessons from the experiences of various sectors, and such experiences can provide important lessons about how organizations have weathered the past two years and how they are planning their future.

“So this has lately been an increasingly fluid situation for us and that’s good. It has been quite a struggle to preserve core values through a fast-changing environment, but I think we have been doing just that and every challenge we have faced has made us both more flexible, stronger and more relevant,” Mr. Reyes said.

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