EXPLAINER: How we compile our ‘Now Open’ and ‘Coming Soon’ business Impacts
As a Community Impact Newspaper reporter, I often hear from readers and sources that their favorite section of the paper is Impacts, where we list new businesses, future openings, anniversaries, expansions, relocations and closings.
The section is a valuable resource to readers that merits the many hours it takes to compile the listings each month. As part of our Trusting News Project partnership, we wanted to take the time to better explain how we gain all these quick-hit news stories.
To begin, we scour our sources for business news in our coverage area.
Sometimes we learn about Impacts through press releases. Other times the information is uncovered during regular market drives while searing for “Coming Soon” signs—prompting us to ask construction workers what they’re building. Often, we hear of Impacts from reporters in other markets or from our colleagues in other departments who are always out and about talking to people.
It is important that we don’t only feature business news from companies that can afford to publicize themselves; we aim to provide a comprehensive and inclusive list.
Once we have an idea of the businesses we might include, it is time to confirm all the details. This involves reaching out to business owners and managers, either by phone or via email. If the business has outsourced communications to a public relations firm, we go through them.
Facebook is also a useful tool in the confirmation process as many businesses have verified pages where one can send a message. If the business is only open in the evenings or there is no direct phone number for the management team, this can be a helpful alternative.
What do we need to confirm? To start, it is important to make sure the basics—the name of the business, address, phone, opening date—are correct.
Certain details can be more sensitive and require following up or filing a public information request, for example if a business’s opening date is repeatedly delayed or if an unexpected closing occurs.
Next, we need to decide which Impacts will make the cut for the print edition.
In the November issue of our Central Austin paper, we had a surplus of Impacts for our East Austin page because of the area’s continued growth. We prioritize “Now Open” and “Coming Soon” Impacts, so anniversaries are the first to go.
All Impacts, whether or not they make the print edition, are published on our website and shared via our social media accounts.
To begin the laying out process, we need photos.
It’s more efficient to ask the included businesses to provide photos that we then credit accordingly. But if they are unable to provide visuals, we go to the store or restaurant to take photos ourselves.
We also map out each of the locations using Google Maps so our graphic designer has a template to follow when designing the page.
Once the pages are laid out, our copy editor reads through the pages to identify any grammatical errors, inconsistencies or questions he has.
The reporter then addresses those edits before the pages are sent to the market’s general manager, who oversees the paper’s production, and managing editor, who oversees all the metro’s editorial content.
Finally, the paper is sent to our printer, which is located next door to our Pflugerville headquarters, and delivered to homes and businesses in each of our 24 markets.
We hope our readers find new and useful information in each issue—and maybe the push to patronize a local business they haven’t visited before. To view the most recent impacts for a specific community, readers can visit communityimpact.com/local-news.
Reporting is provided as part of Community Impact Newspaper’s partnership with the Trusting News Project.