The power of community

November 4, 2021

When change has been the only constant for so long, it makes sense that the business community has become increasingly adept in adapting, pivoting and evolving. And with so much change the region has reacted with innovation and drive, always looking to stay one step ahead. As Steven references in his editor’s word, we are already at the one-year landmark of an all-new North East Times, following our relaunch of the magazine last November with a new direction. So, 12 months and 12 issues on, what have we learnt?

Reflecting on a year of change

The North East Times brand has now been in circulation for more than four decades, and when faced with very different times, we once again had the opportunity to challenge the norm of regional print.

We have openly shared the understanding that we as a business, and a 40-year strong brand, need to evolve.

I have had many conversations over the past year with partners, advertisers and readers, and it’s illuminating to hear differing perspectives, which play an integral role in informing our new direction.

For the team, it was always about recognising and celebrating a legacy brand, but also delivering a magazine which is more attuned to the regional, national and international business landscape, with in- depth reporting and analysis, and creative storytelling.

Although it is most definitely an evolution, I feel we have already achieved this, and have represented incredible stories of tenacity, entrepreneurship and ingenuity, from every corner of the North East.

We conducted market research earlier this year, and the sense we garnered is that, above all, print stands for trust, integrity and credibility.

One key learning from the research is the importance of staying connected to the incredibly supportive community who have been on this journey with us.

And this made me consider the power of community; why is this just so important?

Gaining a broader perspective

A community-focused approach is about building a network of like-minded individuals, and by harnessing their power, understanding how to better communicate with your audience.

The Hawthorne Effect denotes the reactivity in which participants change their behaviour in response to their awareness
of being observed, something far less observed when your community is engaging in a more organic environment.

The advance of technology has created new opportunities in every industry, and digital platforms are helping brands to connect with audiences in a way that wasn’t available in more traditional ways of gathering insight.

All businesses of all sizes can leverage this for their market research, by observing those who interact with them.

What are they saying about your product or service? What are the demographics of those who engage with the content? And are they gaining value from it?

Building your community

After so many months of isolation, from family, friends and colleagues, we know there is a need for a sense of community more than ever.

And this is much more than gathering people in one place.

Whether it be for your business or you as an individual, it’s so important to have a supportive community around you.

An impactful community adds value, encourages conversation, fosters an opportunity to make strategic connections, nurtures relationship building, and acts as a facilitator of knowledge sharing.

Here in the North East, we have so many welcoming networks, with opportunities to learn and connect with others – the North East England Chamber of Commerce, Entrepreneurs’ Forum and CBI North, to name a few.

Although it is sometimes nerve-wracking to reach out first, in my experience you will usually find that someone is always happy to have a chat.

And it might just be that one conversation can be the catalyst for something big!

Our next steps

We are now taking steps to build our strategy around a community-focused approach, by considering ways to create learning for the businesses that engage with North East Times.

There has been unwavering demand for ways to connect through familiar and new faces, and we’re so pleased to be recommencing our networking events this month.

It will be a real joy to gather the North East business community under one roof once again!

I hope to see you soon.

Chloe Holmes
Partnership and marketing manager