From humble beginnings in 2002, Around DB has grown into a vital cog in the Discovery Bay community and a monthly staple among residents. Henry Benjamin reports.
As Around DB celebrates its 15th anniversary, there are plenty of highlights, the odd challenge and no shortage of fun and games to look back on. After starting off as Inside DB, a brief change of ownership led to the new title, and Around DB continues to be a reliable and vibrant source of information for all DBers.
The Bay Media Group umbrella grew to include Life on Lantau in 2015 and has undergone a number of exciting developments in recent months as the company moves into the online, design and publishing world.
The brainchild of publisher Corinne Jedwood, Inside DB first hit the shelves in October 2002 after Corinne saw the need for a community-based publication that would highlight local triumphs and concerns and promote local businesses and events.
“When I arrived in Discovery Bay, I heard that people were organising events for the community and wanted to advertise them, so I decided to help,” Corinne says. “I started to promote all of these things at Fusion, but I thought there must be a better way. I started with a simple newsletter and it grew from there.”
It was hard graft in the early days, with Corinne undertaking the majority of the work herself but the publication was an immediate success. In fact, Inside DB was a trailblazer of sorts in Hong Kong, the first of its type in the territory. “The whole concept of community magazines in Hong Kong started with Inside DB. I actually got two articles in the SCMP,” Corinne says.
It was in 2006 that the portfolio first started to grow, with Corinne identifying a need for an English- language real-estate magazine and website in Hong Kong. Squarefoot was launched in 2006 and continues to be a leading player in the real estate market.
“No-one had thought of it; there was nothing for expats in English at the time. If you wanted to find a flat you would go from one real- estate agent to another throughout Hong Kong,” Corinne says.
“2006 was a big milestone because suddenly the Inside DB office, in one of the flats at DB Plaza, had 30 people working in it,” she adds. “It was really exciting.”
The mini-boom was short-lived, however, with Corinne deciding to sell Squarefoot in 2007 at a time when she needed to dedicate more energy to her personal life.
Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp seized the opportunity, with Inside DB also bundled into the deal. While under News Corp’s guidance, Rachel Ainsley (managing editor) and Lissa Morris (sales manager) were charged with keeping Inside DB afloat, but the harsh reality was that Squarefoot was the priority and News Corp marginalised Inside DB, failing to provide the necessary resources.
“Within a year or so all the original employees, apart from Lissa, had left the company,” Corinne says. “Lissa called me and said please come back! I waited three years because that was my contract with News Corp and in June 2011, I resurrected Around DB from the ashes of Inside DB. I was able to bring the team back together, so it was the four of us again: myself, Lissa, Rachel and graphic designer Terry Chow.”
Managing editor of Inside DB and Squarefoot since 2006, Rachel has seen Bay Media Group come a long way in her 11 years on the job. “The time with News Corp was a bit of a rollercoaster ride but I jumped at the chance to get back on board with the launch of Around DB,” she says. “It never ceases to amaze me that even though DB is such a small community, I’m never short of interesting stories to cover. There is always so much to write about, so many inspiring and driven people to feature. Of course, the addition of Life on Lantau in 2015 has only added to that as we can now cast our net island-wide.
“Around DB continues to evolve and go from strength to strength, and to that I owe a real debt to my DB-based writers,” Rachel adds. “Through our human interest stories and articles promoting resident-driven events and causes, I believe we help bind the community together and I’m proud of that. If we stir things up a little on occasion, that’s no bad thing either.”
There have been many brilliant minds that have contributed to the success of Around DB over the years, with photographer Baljit Gidwani one person in particular who continues to have a huge impact on the magazine.
Corinne describes the current team as “very varied,” with experienced heads meshing with exuberant youthful ones. While Rachel is supported editorially by Sam Agars, Andrew Spires joined the company in 2016 as senior graphic designer. Connie Cottam and Monika Carruthers now ably drive the sales and advertising, and as special publications and online editor Claire Severn is supported by digital and sales assistant Patricia Jover, and interns Katrina Mercado and James Allen. Maxine Parry is office manager.
“We have a few millennials in our company now and they are helping a lot because they understand social media so well,” Corinne says.
A major new development for Bay Media Group is the sleek Around DB and Life on Lantau website, which provides a treasure trove of useful information for the community. Re- launched in July this year, under Claire’s watchful eye, the all-new www.arounddb.com offers a unique and streamlined user experience.
“I’m extremely proud of the new Around DB and Life on Lantau website, which re-launched this summer after months of careful planning,” Claire says. “Our aim was to provide the community with a one-stop shop for everything they need to know about Lantau life, in an easy-to-use format.
“An extension of the monthly magazines, the site is updated every day with all the latest news, events and exclusive giveaways, and it’s the go-to place for finding local business contacts and the latest hot property picks,” Claire adds. “Whatever you need to know about DB, www.arounddb.com is the place to find it!”
While Bay Media Group now also offers a social-media management service for companies looking to increase their online profile, Claire’s online role has expanded to include special publications editing. Publications currently in the works include Journey to Profitability by Igor Pistelak and Elizabeth Sale, and Bay Media Group’s own in-house listings guide, The Best of Lantau (out now for 2017/ 2018).
“We were always being asked to expand our services to the community by providing companies with additional support, and helping authors publish their books, so we decided to open the Bay Media Publishing and Design Studio in May this year,” Corinne explains.
Headed up by Andrew Spires, the Bay Media Publishing and Design Studio ensures the company stays ahead of the pack in an ever- changing media landscape, and it handles anything from books, brochures, flyers and websites to logos and branding.
“I’ve worked in different design roles over the years, but none as varied and exciting as this,” Andrew says. “It’s great to be able to work with local small companies to really drive their business forward through professional design. Our clients range from fashion and retail through to the banking and pharmaceutical industries. We work really closely with clients to get them a product that is on time, on brand and on budget.
“Bay Media Publishing and Design Studio prides itself on its customer care and service,” Andrew concludes. “We want people to enjoy the experience then fall in love with the final product.”
Tags: 15 years, anniversary, Around DB, bay media, best of lantau, design studio, inside db, life on lantau, publishing, squarefoot