Columbus Business First provides valuable business, leadership and industry information. Central Ohioans and those seeking to learn more can use the news to make important business decisions, understand industry front runners and learn more about Central Ohio executives and rising leaders. The paper, owned by American City Business Journals (ACBJ), offers an insightful weekly publication and a variety of other resources including The Book of Lists, Forty Under 40 awards, daily and breaking news emails and other business awards.
Research Director Robin Smith creates, edits and manages the paper’s many lists which are featured in weekly publications and collected annually to form The Book of Lists. Robin leverages the company’s proprietary database, commercial databases, public records and online surveys to gather and analyze data for the lists. Topics for the list are decided by Robin, the editorial staff and ACBJ. In 2016, The Book of Lists contained 72 lists, but the number varies from year to year, depending on the market and relevant topics. June’s featured list explores Ohio’s Craft Brewers.
Robin shared her process for creating the lists. She sends surveys to businesses in the category of the list she is building six weeks in advance of the list’s publication date, and she follows up several times to ensure that the companies can participate. Information is self reported by the companies and verified through research and comparison from previous years. Lists are based on quantitative data and vary depending on the industry. Often, Robin works with the editorial staff when creating a list and stories related to the list subject are run in the same issue.
The job requires understanding and processing large amounts of data. Robin noted the largest list she complied examined 850 companies! As a member of an investigative reporting organization, she has learned new tips and tricks to help manage these kinds of data-intensive projects.
Robin began her career in graphic design and worked with Business First as an ad designer for six years. Later, she performed freelance research services and co-authored Ohio Then & Now: Contemporary Rephotography. Her research and time in libraries and archives sparked her interest, which led her to complete her master’s degree in library science.
Robin enjoys that her work provides difficult to attain information, demonstrating a valuable skill for many businesses and individuals. In addition to her research, she leads classes for Columbus Business First subscribers on how to harness the power of The Book of Lists. Interaction with users gives her the opportunity to learn first-hand the value of her work. One small business owner featured in the minority-owned business list shared her company’s clients significantly increased after being featured. Now that’s making a positive difference!
Companies and individuals use Columbus Business First’s information for sales, recruiting, purchasing decisions and many other research purposes. The work of Robin Smith and Columbus Business First is crucial for many in our community.