A YEAR OF CHANGE
It was roughly one year ago that I received a call from Charlie von Brecht wondering if I was interested in helping him and his partner, Bruce Poorman, start a new publication to be called Drug Discovery News. Just a year ago we were no more than a concept, a few mocked up pages with Latin text and a belief that this industry was in need of something different, something that tackled the business news of drug discovery.
So Charlie and I sat together at one of our favorite watering holes up here in Portland, Maine, had some lunch and talked. By the time we were done, I was on board to steer the editorial content for the premiere issue and we were off and running.
For the first couple of months, pursuing solid news stories often had to wait until I had provided a little education about who we are, what we cover and how we cover it. Our news leads were culled from the usual online news sites such as PR Newswire, Business Wire and BioWire 2K. Sometimes, I wouldn’t hear back from folks and that is understandable. After all, who was this guy you’d never heard of calling from a publication you’d never heard of? Today, my e-mail inbox receives as many as 20 news releases each day.
A year later with eight issues on the street and it’s easy to see how much has changed for us, and in turn, the industry’s perception of us. What started as 5,000 copies distributed at last years Lab Automation Show in San Jose, is now a monthly newspaper received every month by more than 30,000 drug discovery professionals; an electronic newsletter, DDN Online, received by nearly 60,000 readers; and a burgeoning Web site replete with content from both our print and online news sources. In May, our Web site traffic averaged 50 unique visitors per day. Last month it was 709 unique users and this month that has grown to an average of 869 users per day.
Further, just to make sure we were on the right track with our coverage, the DDN founders commissioned a reader survey to take the temperature, if you will, of the market acceptance of our format and the content we deliver. The result of the reader survey was nothing short of astounding. Seventy-nine percent of the respondents rated Drug Discovery News’ coverage of the market as better or superior to other publications in the market. So in a few short months, our perception in the market changed from “never heard of it” to “I have to read it.” We thought this is what people would think of the publication, but I’m not sure we thought it would happen so quickly.
OK. So there’s my five minutes of tooting our own horn.
That’s about all the time we have to congratulate ourselves, because in 2006 we will be looking to improve our coverage of the market. How will we do that?
There are a number of ways.
First, as I’m sure you are aware, the print publication has a finite amount of space and that means some stories can get edited down to fit the space. In the coming months, you can expect to find the entire story, un-cut, when you punch in the editconnect code at the end of each story on the DDN Web site.
Second, as our page count in print grows from 32 pages to 40 pages and beyond, we’ll be able to cover more stories than we do currently, with the potential to grow from around 20 bylined, DDN-researched stories each month, to as many as 30.
Finally, we want to build the content on our Web site beyond anything we can do either in print our via our DDN Online e-newsletter. In short, we want to build an online entity that is the first place industry folks look to find the information they need. But in order to do this, we need your help. We encourage everyone to submit content that can inform our readers. One feature we hope to build in the next year is an online posters area, like the ones you see at trade shows and conferences, to make these presentations available 24/7, 365 days a year at the click of a mouse.
It’s been a great start for us, but we know there’s a lot more to do. We know our readers deserve more content, whether it is in print, in an e-mail newsletter or on our Web site.