List and sell

While many magazines and other print journals are falling from the sky to their deaths like so many sparrows before the storm, one publication manages to carry on regardless of the economic headwinds facing the rest of its breed: Corporate Knights. Against all odds, the Summer issue just out is Volume 12, Issue 2. I presume that means it has been around for more than a decade which sounds about right in my memory, too.

With a healthy 74 pages, Corporate Knights calls itself The Magazine for Clean Capitalism. Who can be against that? One of the stories ranks Canada’s 50 top corporate citizens. Number one is Vancouver City Savings Credit Union, a touchy-feely financial services institution run mostly by women. Why, there’s even a list of 27 of Canada’s Best Foreign Corporations. You’ll recognize the names – from ArcelorMittal to Vale – the outfits that have bought up Canadian companies in part of the hollowing out process that’s been going on these last many years.

And there’s a piece about co-operatives, another squeaky clean form of capitalism, where again Corporate Knights ranks the possibilities and puts Co-operators Group atop a list of 10. There are more lists in this issue than a househusband trying to keep all his duties straight.

And of course, there’s the ritual piece on Richard Branson, down from his balloon or his space station long enough to talk about his latest plan called The B Team, a gathering of CEOs for whom financial gain flows from social and environmental gains.

I agree with all these left-wing, bleeding-heart goals, but I must say they make boring reading. I can’t imagine anybody plowing through these issues other than the PR staffers who fight to get their bosses or their companies into these pages so they can point out what a great job they’re doing at raising the corporate profile.

As you might expect, with such a benign editorial environment, there are lots of ads, twenty-four pages of them, a very nice ratio out of seventy-four pages in all. Oddly enough, one of the ads is from Co-operators (see above) saying how honoured they are to be a leader. A sizeable number of companies appearing on the 50 best list also just happen to have taken out full-page ads: TMX Group, Ontario Power Generation, Bullfrog Power, Telus, TD, BMO, Intact Financial, Catalyst Paper, Barrick Gold, Sun Life, and Enbridge. One of the ads actually shows a little girl hugging a tree.

Is it just possible that companies are told in advance they’re on the list and asked if they’d like to advertise? What a concept. As for readable editorial content, well, Corporate Knights is still working on that.

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