Member Spotlight: Buying a Magazine During a Pandemic
Date: 10th June 2021
By Sarah Moore
The magazine industry in Alberta might be “very challenging,” says Kyle Kerpan, but that hasn’t stopped him from finding opportunities in the challenges.
Kerpan is the publisher of Rocky Mountain Visitor (RMV) Publications. The company publishes Where Canadian Rockies, a guide to events, activities, shopping, dining and museums in Canmore, Banff, Jasper and the B.C. Rockies. It’s aimed towards travellers and visitors to the Rockies to help them get the most out of their vacation.
In February 2021, RMV purchased Where Calgary, previously published by St. Joseph Communications, and is planning to take it in a slightly different direction.
“We’re really looking to broaden the appeal of Where Calgary so it’ll be as useful to a Calgarian as it is to a traveller coming into Calgary,” says Kerpan. “It’s really the same intent there, where we want people to get the most out of the Rockies, we want people to get the most out of the city.”
That means changes to the style of writing of Where Calgary to dial down the internal marketing efforts. Instead of a travel guide for tourists, “it’s more of a city guide to help you get the most out of living or being in the city.”
Buying the magazine comes on the heels of RMV purchasing Calgary distribution company, InterWest. As both a publisher and a distribution company, RMV is vertically integrated: adding Where Calgary to their distribution footprint was “a strategic advantage.”
“When we looked at being able to have another market with integrated publishing and distribution, it’s something for us that made a lot of sense,” says Kerpan.
The first print issue of Where Calgary was planned to come out this July, but it’s been delayed due to ongoing mandatory health measures in the province. Because of the pandemic, Calgary businesses struggling from the lack of tourism aren’t ready to spend money on advertising.
“They need to see some sort of clearer path to recovery,” says Kerpan, which means that, for now, the print version of Where Calgary is in a “wait and see mode.”
In the meantime, the magazines are upping their digital game. In late November, Kerpan’s team released a new version of whererockies.com, and has developed a new website for Where Calgary as well. Digital content will be updated, even when the magazines aren’t publishing in print. Where Canadian Rockies is only published twice a year, summer and winter, so online content will help avoid restrictions to printed content based on their publication cycle.
Followers of Where Calgary’s social media will also see a change, as Kerpan says RMV will be active and engaged on the digital front with plans to add new content every day.
Also in development is an app for people to view the digital content of both Where Canadian Rockies and Where Calgary.
What was the first magazine you fell in love with?
GQ. It was, and still is, very much a well-done piece targeted at male culture.
What is your favourite thing about working in magazines?
One of my favourite things about magazines is being able to go out and connect with people and ultimately help tell some of their stories and share the best of the Rockies and soon, the best of Calgary.
How would you describe Alberta’s magazine industry, in a couple of words?
Very challenging. It’s not an easy industry, for sure, but it’s very rewarding.
Who is someone whose work you especially admire?
Jack Newton, the old publisher of RMV. In the year that I spent with him, he really shared his passion for the publishing industry and it’s something that I’m really trying to bring forward.
What are you looking forward to in the next year?
Getting Where Calgary relaunched, and seeing the end of the pandemic.