Week in China had just 1,000 readers when the weekly digital magazine was launched in February 2009. Now 15,000 people subscribe and the aim is for 25,000 by the end of 2012. That's faster growth than China itself!
Editor Steve Irvine has no doubt why so many HSBC clients find it compelling. "Our editorial mission is to run stories that we think business people need to know in order to make smart decisions about China," he says.
He provides content that is more nuanced than the usual fare about China. "My aim is to create a balance of stories every week that give clients a sense of China as a big, complex country with shades of grey – but plenty of colour."
No other bank offers such a mix of business insight and commentary that can be easily digested in half an hour, he points out. But he emphasises that Week in China is entirely independent of the bank. "It's an exclusive relationship, but we're not part of HSBC," he explains. "Instead the bank is our sole subscriber and only advertiser in each issue. It's a hybrid concept and one that has given us the stability to really focus on editorial quality.
"We choose the stories and all the content ourselves, and we do so with the busy executive reader in mind. We try to write our stories in a snappy and readable style, providing a time-saving and trusted China source for HSBC's clients."
Steve, who previously edited FinanceAsia, heads a team of writers, researchers and designers. Each week the Beijing-based researchers search out stories so that each edition of the Hong Kong-based magazine can publish around 15 stories covering a variety of industries.
"It's 80 per cent about business - but with a lighter element that looks at what's going on in Chinese society and culture," he says, adding that is this broad, insightful and often quirky perspective that makes the magazine so popular.
With 150 issues of the free magazine under its belt, Week in China now has 2,500 articles covering 20 or so industries on its searchable website. It is also available as an iPad app and subscribers can opt to share links or forward to friends and colleagues.