Video, personalization part of relaunch

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The redesigned launched by e.Republic Inc. two weeks ago features a new video channel, a personalization tool called My Briefcase, a wide (1024 pica) contemporary design and technology that automatically refreshes content on the page. But Dennis McKenna, CEO at e.Republic, is even more excited by what you can’t see.

“What you see on the Web site today is probably 35% of the capability we have,” he said. “Most of our effort went into the back end. We really invested in a technology infrastructure that’s going to allow us to roll out a lot of additional new products very quickly, including social networking.”

McKenna was one of the founders of the 22-year-old media company, which publishes six print titles, produces more than 100 face-to-face events annually, operates a subscription information business for the state and local government and education markets, and has had an online presence since the mid-1990s. While he declined to release revenue figures, McKenna said e.Republic’s number of employees, at 155 full-timers, is an indication of the company’s size.

Don Pearson, exec VP-group publisher at e.Republic, said the redesigned replaces separate Web sites that had been companions to the print publications Digital Communities, Emergency Management, Government Technology, Public CIO and Texas Technology. (The company’s sixth publication, Converge, serves the education market.) “We debated whether to have one site or multiple sites,” Pearson said. “We decided to do one site extremely well and focus on capabilities we could offer all the titles.”

Both McKenna and Pearson said the upfront investment to revamp the site, which involved outside help in strategy and design, was significant. New people were brought in, too. “We’ve added about four very capable folks to the technical team, and we are constantly having to add more content people to feed the Web,” McKenna said. One editor has been named video producer, and a video studio is planned.

The business model for is still advertising-based, although the relaunched site provides additional options, Pearson said. For example, the My Briefcase section is sponsored exclusively by Symantec. The GT TV video channel will also have one large sponsor.

McKenna is confident the company’s investment in the site will pay off. “By the end of the year, we’re going to recoup a significant amount of our investment,” he said. In fact, he said he was more worried about the risk of not investing sufficiently in the Web than about the chance the company might not get its money back soon enough.

“Like other b-to-b publishers, we’re not making the revenue in print we were two or three years ago,” McKenna said. “The demand is there from our advertisers, not just for electronic offerings but for innovative and exciting electronic offerings. That’s why we took the time to invest not only in getting something new up on the Web but also in getting the systems and infrastructure in place to allow us to move quickly into the future.”

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