The Magazine “Business Punk” The “Fast and Furious Goings-On in the Business World”

Business Punk”, cover of the 4/2012 edition
Business Punk”, cover of the 4/2012 edition | Photo (detail): © Business Punk

“Business Punk” – the magazine with all the low-down on “the fast and furious goings-on in the world of business”, is the magazine’s own advertising slogan. It is all about ideas, innovations, trends, about start-ups and managers, about careers and jobs, work and the office. This is an interview with publishing director, Jan Honsel, on the various formulas for success in a difficult business environment.

Herr Honsel, renowned business newspapers like the Financial Times Deutschland have had to close down. “Business-Punk” has somehow managed to survive. let’s be honest – how does one actually hit upon such an unusual format like “Business Punk”?

It was really quite simple - in 2008 our publishing house, Gruner und Jahr, decided to hold an ideas competition for the company staff. Everybody was invited to develop and submit new ideas for both online and print products. At that time people like Nikolaus Röttger and Anja Rützel were working for Gruner and Jahr’s business media on the “Out-of-Office” page of the Financial Times Deutschland. They took part in the competition and, with a team of colleagues, developed a design for a new business magazine for young people that won them 3rd place. The magazine then went on a trial run and, as it achieved a circulation of 40,000 copies in its first edition, we were given the go-ahead to continue.

In the meantime it comes out four times a year. At the moment we are working on the 11th edition. Things cooled off a little after the first edition, as is often the case, but now circulation is back at over 40,000. There is now of course even a “Business Punk” app.

Close to the people

Your aim is to depict the “fast and furious goings-on in the world of business” - what exactly does that mean?

 Jan Honsel Jan Honsel | © Gruner + Jahr We publish stories about people who have unusual ideas; once there was one about somebody who had collected the greatest number of air miles in the world or one about a sports car developer. Then there was the one about Heiko Hubertz, a game inventor from Hamburg, or the then boss at Puma, Franz Koch. He was the one who our editorial staff accompanied when he was jogging between appointments in Genoa – at “Business Punk” we like to get close to people, we want to tell their story. With us it is never a case of mere facts and figures, but more about the people themselves - what they have experienced, how they face up to challenges and how they deal with success.

How do your readers react to this?

Our target group is young, most of our readers are between 20 and 35 years old. About 70 per cent are male, some of them are still at university studying, others have just set up their own businesses or are earning their first real bucks. They do not want to read about ten tips for a successful career, they are too realistic for that kind of thing. We offer them stories - the kind people might tell over a drink in a bar in the evening. Everybody is able get out of it what suits them.

For example?

“Should I go or stay?” was a piece we did on the various ideas people have about careers. For the project the editorial office had spoken to a protégé who had left his company after two years, because he could not stand working there any longer and who then went on to successfully set up his own business. The second protégé wanted to leave his job, but was persuaded by the big boss to stay and is now a member of the company’s executive board. Stories like these help our readers to find out about other people’s situations and maybe learn something for themselves.

The social media are our ‘home, sweet, home’”

How large is your online community?

Up to now our website has been more of a “landing page” with a blog. At the moment we are above all using the social media and, most of all, Facebook. It is, so to speak, our “home, sweet home”; just as it is for many in our target group. We have more that 58,000 “friends” on our Facebook site, which makes for quite a lot of action indeed. Last year, in collaboration with game inventor “Bigpoint”, we appealed to readers and users to let us know via the Facebook app about men and women under 40 who develop innovative ideas in their jobs and who want to strike out in new directions. Or they post photos and images that will be put into the next edition if they fit in with one of the stories. There was however one really concrete case - it was the reaction to a delay in the magazine’s delivery to our subscribers. The title page of the new edition had already been posted on Facebook. There was a storm of protest. Today we do not post a photo on the internet until the first copies have left the printers’ - then everybody can see - the delivery has started. In the old days feedback was more or less anonymous and took place via a readers’ hotline - today everything is visible via Facebook. This has brought about the need to rethink our publishing processes - and that is a good thing!

Where do you get your subjects from?

“Business Punk”, cover of the 4/2012 edition “Business Punk”, cover of the 4/2012 edition | © Business Punk We hook up with a lot of people, we look at suggestions from outside that have been submitted by our Facebook community. Not to mention lifestyle – a really important part of our editing approach. This was what led us to profile Robbie Williams, who had to get a new business model off the ground when his old recording contracts had expired. Some of my colleagues visited Johnny Rotten, the lead singer of the Sex Pistols, as well as golfing pro, Martin Kaymer, or the surfers riding the waves off the coast of Liberia.

The ingredients of success: service, quality, atmosphere

The business press at the moment is under quite a lot of pressure. Even your publishing house has had to shelve several publications. How does “Business Punk” plan to survive as a business magazine?

The only way to survive is to use as many channels as possible: Facebook, Twitter and the app that, for a fee, allows you to download the whole magazine. We are convinced that our brand has a strong future. The internet has everything, it is like cooking - anybody can do it, you can get the ingredients anywhere and with a little skill it will even taste good. Yet still there are restaurants all over the place where people go to eat. The reason being that people appreciate the service in the restaurant, the quality, the chef’s recommendations, the atmosphere and the surroundings. It is the same with print products. We have to take the readers seriously, get their feedback, offer them something - and then they will subscribe to our magazine - either in the form of an app or in print.

For them “Business Punk” is also a very exciting advertising medium. It is not only the fact that we are dealing with a very interesting target group - one that is normally very difficult to reach, but we are also constantly providing creative forms of cooperation using all the channels we have developed in collaboration with agencies and clients.