Bridgette Bello is a titan on Tampa Bay's publishing scene. After working her way up through American City Business Journals, Bello stood at the helm of Tampa Bay Business Journal as president and publisher for more than a decade. Under her careful leadership, TBBJ brought its business news into the digital age, elevated its stature and expanded its brand throughout the Tampa Bay region. Following her departure in early 2018, Bello launched her own venture, Tampa Bay Business & Wealth, a monthly magazine that profiles founders, CEOs and nonprofit organizations that drive the economic engine of Tampa Bay.
Years in St. Pete
Organizations involved in
I’ve had to cut back, my job has changed a bit in the last year. I still remain involved in one way or another with the things I’m passionate about. The Spring of Tampa Bay is one of my true passions and an organization that I’ll never stop trying to help. Part of the mission of the magazine is to help many organizations at the same time and to not limit it to what we can give our time to.
I am also a trustee at St. Petersburg College, that’s something I’m extremely passionate about and give a lot of my time to.
What gets you out of bed every day?
Making a difference. I really feel like I have the opportunity to make a difference with this magazine. My last story in January, two weekends after the story hit the market, he sent me an email and he said, “The reaction from the friends and family has been incredible. But I have to tell you the number of people who have reached out that I didn’t know, and how many people have asked me for help.” I was in tears on a Sunday reading that.
We made a difference with that story, and that’s what gets me out of bed.
Why St. Pete?
I have lived in Madeira Beach the entire 12 years I have been in Tampa Bay, even though I worked 10 of them in Tampa, almost 11. My partner lives in Treasure Island, my managing editor lives in St. Pete. We all used to make that drive across the bridge. Now we still do it probably three out of five days a week, but it’s a beautiful drive when we do because we do it when there’s no traffic and really appreciate the beauty of the place we live. We love being a part of St. Pete and everything we have here.
What is one habit that you keep?
I’m in the business of getting rid of habits these days. But I don’t go home until I feel like I’ve done absolutely every little bit that I can. That’s something that I’ve always had, I don’t know where it came from but it’s a work ethic thing.
Who are some people that influence you?
The answer to that has changed over the last 18 months or so. My mom has always been a strong influence on me. My husband is a very strong influence on me. We bounce a lot of things off of each other, it’s one of the things I love about our relationship. My daughter is a very strong influence on me. From a professional perspective, there’s a lot of women in this town – one of the things that’s incredible about Tampa Bay – the women mentor each other and they mean it. They truly bend over backwards to help each other.
What is one piece of insight - a book, methodology, practice - that you would share with our readers?
It’s silly but its true. I’ve always said that the best sales book that was ever written is Dr. Seuss’ “Green Eggs and Ham.” If you think about it, he tries every way to solve the problem and deliver what the customer wants. He turns it green, feeding it in a house, on a mouse, all kinds of different things. So I always think about how I can solve a client’s problem and how creative I can get. Part of what I’m having so much fun with now is that the buck really stops here. There’s not a lot I can’t do.
What is one thing you wish you knew about your work 3 years ago?
This could be controversial. I believe that what has happened to the news business as a whole, why people talk about fake news and why, unfortunately, the craft has lost a lot of respect, is when the industry started compensating reporters based on clicks and subscriptions. They became part of the revenue model, which was never supposed to happen. I didn’t see that coming. If you’re compensated based on the number of people that click on your story, your headline’s going to be a lot more salacious than it would be if you weren’t. I wish I would have seen that coming. I’ve lost a lot of love for the industry in the last three years.
I’m in my “What’s next,” about five and a half issues into it. I’m having an amazing time, continuing to be a really positive part of this community, what a lot of people refer to as an economic development engine. Showcasing the amazing stories from the CEOs and companies here that most people don’t know of. After my previous life of knowing all things business, I was just shocked at the number of companies that I had never heard of before and didn’t know were here, and those CEOs that aren’t a part of those usual 100 that we all see everywhere and on the cover of everything.