BY SEAN CALLAHAN
Energy Central, an Aurora, Colo.-based Internet media company covering the electricity and natural gas industries, has moved into the print publishing business.
The company debuted the first issue of its print title, EnergyBiz, in November. The magazine, which is mailed to 22,000 energy industry executives, covers people, issues, strategy and technology in the electricity and natural gas industries. Energy Central plans to publish the magazine six times in 2005 and monthly in 2006.
"What's interesting about the story is that we're reversing the progression of b-to-b publishing, going from online to print," said Martin Rosenberg, EnergyBiz's editor in chief.
Energy Central started in 1996 as a dot-com company covering the energy industry. Now a company with 30 employees, it generates revenue through a combination of free, advertiser-supported content and premium, subscription-based content. The Web site has about 125,000 registered users, many of whom are paid subscribers. Individuals pay $297 a year and companies pay up to $12,500 for access. Energy Central also generates revenue from a job board.
With its print publication, Energy Central is venturing into a market in which two large publishers have pulled the plug on magazines serving the industry. Primedia Business Magazines & Media shuttered Utility Business in 2002. The McGraw-Hill Cos. closed its Platts' Energy Business and Technology at the beginning of 2004. PennWell Corp. is still a large player in he sector, with Electric Light and Power and other properties.
The initial response to EnergyBiz from advertisers has been strong, said Steve Drazga, president-CEO of Energy Central. The magazine had a 64-page folio in its first issue. Advertisers included MasterCard International, Itron and Siemens Westinghouse, all of which also advertise on energycentral.com.
"I was highly impressed with it," Jil Shingledecker, public relations specialist at Siemens Westinghouse, said of EnergyBiz's first issue. "There's definitely a market out there for it. I think there are so many technical publications in the energy industry; there's definitely room for something like this to reach a higher level audience."
Adrienne Chambers, VP-program development for MasterCard International, has used both Energy Central's Web site and EnergyBiz in an effort to convince energy companies to accept credit card payments. "It's hard for me to speak to [the effectiveness of] EnergyBiz after just one ad, but online has been very successful in terms of sales leads," she said.
Drazga said that readers responded well to the first issue. "For the first 30 days, we've had about 6,500 confirmed [readers] who've requested the magazine," he said.
Rosenberg said the energy industry is in transformation and people in the business need coverage of the issues. Many of the biggest business stories of the past few years have been in the energy industry: Enron Corp.'s collapse, the East Coast blackout of 2003, global warming and the rising price of petroleum.