It is rare the business in Gibraltar that has not been touched by the sudden screeching to a halt of economic activity in March 2020 when our city locked down in the face of a pandemic crisis.
DirectMag Media (Paper Cloud Click), local media marketing experts who had been printing well-known magazines for almost twenty years, found themselves having to rethink their business model, as many local businesses had to do.
“Print media has been under pressure for some time,” managing director, Will Fryer explained when we met a week or so ago. His office in City Mill Lane is a small oasis of calm; desks, computers and facilities for the office share branch of the business, which offers small business owners a city centre base even though most of their work might still be from home; a space brightened by the many promotional products that they still sell to other businesses, and a central table around which we spoke, suitably distanced and wearing face coverings. “Suddenly we were in lockdown and only able to work via the internet, so we have taken the bulk of our business online. It made simple sense.” And thus they recently launched an online portal, Paper Cloud Click.
DirectMag Media Ltd. has been printing DirectMag business directory and the PaperCloud Business Diary for almost 20 years, making this one of the longest running magazines in Gibraltar and the Campo area. For many of Gibraltar’s small businesses, the magazines were an essential medium for advertising their products. But times were changing even before the sudden arrival of Covid19. As Will put it: “Online is the new normal and unless you have a strong aversion to dealing with reality then I’m sure we all agree it will continue to be so. Now more than ever it is absolutely crucial to have as much of an online presence as possible.”
Kelly Sandbrook, Paper Cloud’s digital and graphics expert, continued: “We had been developing the idea of an online directory, somewhat similar to the business directories that we had been publishing traditionally, but when you transfer the concept online, the possibilities are almost boundless. We have been able to create a portal for local business and organisations, associations, clubs, charities and others to bring their services to the attention of anyone who might be seeking information, and site users browsing to find something they need, can do so in just a few clicks. Hence the name. What lockdown provided us with was the drive that you get when business is at risk from circumstances over which you can’t control, and also the time to work on this project and bring it to fruition.”
Will and Kelly took me on a tour of www.papercloudclick.com and what immediately struck a positive note was the ease with which the site can be navigated. This was one of the main concerns of the team as they developed the site. “We wanted users to be able to find whatever they wanted as easily as possible,” Kelly explained, and she went on to showcase the “I Need…” section of the site. Here, you can click a button based on your needs. I immediately tapped into the “I Need…a Hairdresser section” and anyone who has recently spotted my lacklustre locks would agree that this is exactly what I need. I was instantly offered a choice of several hairdressers both in Gibraltar and in Spain and links to their online booking systems.
The array of business sectors and community organisations represented on the site is impressive and set to grow further as Will begins to establish new members of his team to network and reach out to more businesses. “This is such an important time for businesses to work together and support each other,” Will says, “while businesses of course need to compete, we can also collaborate and show each other good faith and support, and this is especially important for small and micro businesses.”
Another feature of Paper Cloud Click’s online directory is its section on events both in the local area and online events that might be of interest to the local community. “Think Yellow Pages meets Time Out,” Will smiles as he describes the way the different sections of the site interact to create a simple to use portal with news, events, press releases, links to hundreds of sites, information and advice, services and products including the facility to make bookings and appointments online. “It’s a simple, online way of finding out what to do, where, when and how to do it,” confirms Kelly. They are constantly adding content to the site and always looking for contributors which may be of interest to aspiring writers, bloggers, vloggers who want to share content, and for start-ups wanting to share a press release.
There is little doubt in anyone’s mind that we are currently having to get through some extraordinary challenges: the threat of a pandemic and the inevitable challenges of Brexit will inevitably alter how we live, work and do business. “We have to keep positive, we have to keep working with each other as a business community and we have to keep finding ways of overcoming those challenges,” says Will, “small businesses have to stay flexible, relevant and adapt to new circumstances. That’s what we are constantly aiming to do.”
PaperCloud Click is live on www.papercloudclick.com.
Written by Jackie Anderson