Two OCNs: Three decades, 18 months and a bright future ahead

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ocn d cover nov 2020

By Mark Buckshon

Publisher, Ottawa Construction News

This month, the other OCN – Ontario Construction News – has reached a milestone as it marks its eighteenth month of daily publication. Since we first started publishing on a daily schedule on May 1, 2019, the electronic newspaper has broken plenty of barriers in publishing Certificates of Substantial Performance (CSP) and other legal notices mandated by the Ontario Construction Act.

OCN of course shares an acronym with this publication – Ottawa Construction News – which started as a monthly in 1989, more than three decades ago. Things were really different then. No one then would have thought a newspaper could be a purely electronic publication. Colour images were a big deal. We needed to take the old film negatives to a specialized service bureau with extremely expensive equipment to produce colour separations at a fee of upwards of $150 per image.

There were some similarities from then in the construction and publishing world today, and there are many differences. In 1989, another publisher produced a daily construction trade newspaper, with monopoly status to publish CSPs and other legal notices, because no one could risk the expense and cost of starting a true print daily newspaper.  From the start of OCN (monthly) our office would receive a few calls each month from contractors seeking to publish their certificates and notices – and we would need to refer them to the competition. We were a construction trade newspaper, to be sure, but we were not “daily” and we couldn’t risk breaking the law.

Fast forward three decades to May, 2019

When we launched Ontario Construction News, I couldn’t have imagined that the former monopoly daily construction trade newspaper would cancel its printed edition and effectively copy our publishing model. Nor could I have seen how the process of publishing specialized legal notices could evolve into a truly competitive business challenge.

OCN-Daily has undoubtedly succeeded, and recently marketing director Chase outlined four “C” s that explain its growth.

  • We are Canadian owned, operated and live in your community;
  • We are Compliant, we produce a daily newspaper;
  • We established the Customer Service Standard for the CSP industry when we launched; and
  • We are Cost Effective (we will do an account review with you to ensure all promos are applied to get the best rate).

I’d add a fifth point, “We are Convenient” in you don’t need to operate within a “do-it-yourself and pay in advance” model to have your notices published quickly. Contractors simply email a copy of their Form 9 – and our administrator sets the text and prepares a proof for approval, often within minutes. If the notice is is cleared for publication by 5 p.m., it will appear in the next business day’s issue – you’ll receive your Certificate of Publication right away. Payment can be made upon invoicing, by cheque, credit card or direct deposit.

The proofing system is part of the process because contractors discover a surprising number of errors in the original Form 9 when they take a look at the proof text. While we’re happy to republish erroneous notices without additional charge – even if the error isn’t our responsibility —  if we can catch the problems before original publication, you save on compliance time and speed the completion of holdback requirements.

The result: Virtually all clients who switch to Ontario Construction News, stay. This success leads to a helpful circle – with the revenue, there are resources to improve journalistic quality and value.

What’s ahead for the next 18 months?  (I can’t imagine what things will be like three decades from now; if I’m alive I’ll certainly be very old!)

I expect you’ll see more investigative reporting and innovation. We’ll continue to build relationships with associations and individual contractors. And you’ll both save money and be better informed.

You can check all of this out for yourself at www.ontarioconstructionnews.com.

Mark Buckshon is president of the Construction News and Report Group of Companies, which publishes both Ottawa Construction News and Ontario Construction News. He can be reached by email at buckshon@ontarioconstructionnews.com or phone at (888) 627-8717 ext 224.

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