Thursday, June 30, 2011

Transcontinental Interactive wins seven gold in Magnum Opus custom media awards

Transcontinental Interactive has captured 30 prizes or honourable mentions in the Magnum Opus Awards which recognize excellence in custom media editorial, design and strategy. TI includes Totem Brand Stories (formerly Redwood Custom Communications). 
This is the 8th year for the awards, presented by ContentWise and the Content Marketing Institute and were judged by leading custom publishing professionals and professors from the Missouri School of Journalism 
Transcontinental Interactive won seven awards for online content.
"Being recognized by these prestigious awards is yet another reason to be proud of the consumer centric solutions we provide our customers," said Christian Trudeau, President of Transcontinental Interactive in a posting on the company website. "These awards reflect not only the creative results our teams generate for our clients, but also the commitment to being a strategic marketing partner to fulfill our clients needs every step of the way."
Among the awards:
  • Seven gold awards for leading North American brands such as Aeroplan, P&G, Sobeys and Geico
  • Nine silver awards for print magazine work; electronic publication or websites;  and all-around publication work
  • Five bronze awards and nine honourable mentions
This year, the judges considered 560 entries in 217 categories, including 18 interactive product categories for magazines, videos, blogs, podcasts, and use of social media, among others.
To view the complete list of winners for the 2011 Magnum Opus Awards, click here.

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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

We'll pay to fly you to the Pride parade, Mr. Mayor, says NOW magazine

In the annals of cheeky gestures, this is a pip. NOW magazine of Toronto has offered in a press release to fly Rob Ford from his family cottage in Huntsville to Toronto so that he would be able to march in, or at least appear at, the Gay Pride Parade. Ford has begged off (unlike several of his predecessors) and said it was because of a tradition of spending the long weekend at the cottage. 
You'll recall that NOW, Toronto's most-established alt-weekly, recently lampooned the mayor with a Photoshopped near-naked cover that resulted in an order (later rescinded) to remove NOW from racks in all city-owned buildings (to be fair, Ford's office denied they had given such an order and the integrity commissioner threw out a complaint from the magazine.)
The release from NOW says:
An estimated 1.2 million people attend Pride. More than one quarter of those attending come from outside of the GTA. If they can make it to Toronto, why can't our own Mayor? NOW Magazine is not alone in thinking what a crock – and what a shame that is. So, we're offering to pay for his flight from Huntsville to Toronto to attend this year's PRIDE festivities.
 The magazine says it estimated the flight by chartered float plane would cost it $2,000 to $4,000. Adding to the cheekiness, it said
"He can pile into the float plane in his swim trunks. Half the people at Pride are wearing Speedos or less, anyway. There's even water fights."

Strong opposition builds to bill to make sweeping changes to US Postal Service

Proposed legislation in the U.S. Congress would make sweeping changes to the United States Postal Service (USPS), which would inevitably have an impact on Canadian magazines with mail circulation south of the border. 
Lobbyists for the U.S. magazine industry have been critical of the bill by Congressman Darrell Issa of California, which would reduce delivery to 5 days a week (ending Saturday delivery), require all "market dominant" products to cover costs  while maintaining a CPI price cap and and require those products which are below 90% of cost recovery to pay 5% above the cap annually.
According to a story in Audience Development, MPA -- The Association of Magazine Media  (formerly the Magazine Publishers of America) said it continued to question the USPS calculation of attributable costs for periodicals. And American Business Media said while the bill has some provisions it likes, others would be potentially damaging to its members -- and estimated that the anticipated CPI increases would result in more than 20% increase in costs over the next three years. 
The American Postal Workers Union called the bill "a reckless assault on postal workers and the Postal Service" and said that it would result in drastic service cuts, resulting in $2 billion worth of facility closures in the next two years.


On Spec a finalist in Aurora Award

Canada's longest-running journal of the fantastic (publishing since 1989), On Spec, is a finalist for Canada's Aurora Award in the category "Best English Related Work".Voting for the Aurora Awards -- a Canadian "people's choice" competition --  will begin later this summer. The winners will be presented at Canvention 2011, SFContario, November 18-20 in Toronto.

Rogers Publishing merges consumer and business/professional divisions into one

In what has become a cascade of inevitabilities, with Ken Whyte soon to succeed Brian Segal as CEO of Rogers Publishing, now the two previously separate divisions -- consumer and business & professional -- are being merged. Still more inevitable outcomes are the departure of John Milne, senior vice-president of the business and professional group and Paul Williams, vice-president, brand extension and online development. 
A story in Marketing (which, as part of the business and professional group is directly affected) quotes Segal as saying that the company's overall strategy is to "“work in a more integrated manner to better serve our customers and markets."
Magazine publishers formerly reporting to Milne will now report to Patrick Renard, whose responsibilities have been expanded beyond vice-president of finance.
The operational change comes as Segal himself prepares to leave the company. In September, Kenneth Whyte, currently executive vice-president of the consumer publishing group, will assume Segal’s role overseeing the newly merged operation.
Rogers Publishing also recently sold 15 trade magazines to Vancouver’s Glacier Media.

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Magazines take note: Lawyers says 95% of unpaid internships in Ontario are probably illegal

A Toronto employment lawyer say upwards of 95 per cent of unpaid internships in Ontario are probably illegal according to a post from Canadian Press, carried on  
"If you have an intern making coffee or researching articles . . . then they're an employee, not an intern, and they should be getting minimum wage and all the other protection that comes with the Employment Standards Act," [says Andrew Langille.]...
Under Ontario law, "trainees" can work for free if the training is similar to what's given in a vocational school and is for the benefit of the trainee, with little to no benefit for the employer. Many employers mischaracterize employees as trainees, often because they don't know or understand the regulations, Langille says. Matt Blajer, a spokesman for Ontario's Ministry of Labour, says the government will consider suggestions "regarding non-traditional work patterns" when the law is up for review. In the U.S., the federal Labor Department last year pledged to crack down on companies that fail to pay interns proper wages.


Magazine world view: Baku goes global; e-readers outpace tablets; tiny printshop

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Quote, unquote: on rolling with it

"If we were younger and maybe a little bit more naive, but we've been doing this for so long ... we're pretty level-headed," he says. "We've spent so many years getting told 'no' to grants, and 'no' to shows and 'no' to festivals and so to be getting all of these 'yesses' it's more exciting and satisfying than it is we're thinking we're hot s--t. We've worked at this, being a band, for almost seven years now. It's one of those things where you work really hard so when it all comes together, and really exciting stuff is continually starting to happen, it's good. You've got to roll with it."
-- bassist Ryan Gullen of The Sheepdogs, the Saskatoon band now one of only two finalists in the running to be selected in August to be cover subjects of Rolling Stone magazine, on how they're handling the pressure.The other finalists is L.A. singer Leilia Broussard.


" Mechanical poetry journal" in Toronto vends little broadsides for a toonie

Toronto Poetry Vendors have a launch of their latest (spring 2011 -- it's only a little late) issue at one of the newest installations of their poetry vending machines at Shopgirls gallery boutique in Parkdale,  June 30 at 7 p.m. 
TPV will also be at Clinton’s Tavern (693 Bloor St. W, near Christie Station) on July 9 for the Meet the Presses chapbook market with their portable, travelling machine, lovingly known as Snacks, stocked with the new issue (and possibly some back issues).
Toronto Poetry Vendors is a mechanical poetry journal which uses refurbished gum vending machines to vend twice-yearly issues consisting of 10 single, hand-folded broadsides by 10 Toronto-based poets, purchasable from the machines for a toonie.It is the creation of poets Elisabeth de Mariaffi and Carey Toane.

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Canopy launches Ancient Forest Friendly awards for publishers and printers

A new award for integrity when it comes to environmental standards in the buying and use of paper has been launched by Canopy, the campaigners for supporting protection of the world's remaining ancient forests and the increasing use of eco-papers. 
Canopy says it hopes to see the Ancient Forest Friendly awards become the highest for protection of climate, biodiversity, and ancient forests.
Publishers who can demonstrate their paper comes from responsibly harvested and post-consumer sources are eligible for  Ancient Forest Friendly™ Gold, Ancient Forest Friendly™ Silver, “Most Improved” and “Conservation Supporter" awards.  Application for the award requires filling out a survey, asking for basic company information, about initiatives to reduce paper use, environmental specs for your printing paper, where fibre for your paper comes from and so on.


Publishers urged to register and get information about OMDC Magazine Fund

Ontario magazine publishers will want to put in their daybooks and bring-forward files the September 22 application deadline for the Ontario Media Development Corporation's magazine fund. Guidelines for the program remain the same as last year and all applications must be submitted online; the earlier the better. A maximum of two project applications may be made by each applicant. 
Applicants need to register their corporate information in advance. Applicants are strongly encouraged to attend the information session about the magazine fund on Thursday, July 21 at 10 a.m. at 175 Bloor Street East, 5th floor. Registration for the information session is required and closes July 20.


Monday, June 27, 2011

Postal back-to-work relieves publishers, but they need to be resolute about alternative delivery

With the resumption of mail service tomorrow as the result of an imposed back-to-work order by Parliament, many publishers will be happy that their subscription copies can now be delivered again. But the industry simply can't settle back with a sigh of relief.
Even as it welcomes the imposed settlement through 2015, it needs to look at alternatives for delivery. (It saddens me to say so because, personally, I feel that a functioning postal system is one of those things that is a classic example of the "common good".)
The lockout and rotating strikes were largely the result of the management failure of Canada Post Corporation which bobbled months of negotiations and failed to make its case for modernization and automation. Of course the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) shares the responsibility, but it was defending the established and negotiated rights of its workers (as it should) and showed more appetite for negotiation and compromise than the suits right up to the passage of the legislation.
The lockout is a continuum of the way CPC has done business for some time now -- treating its small customers brusquely and communicating poorly with even major mailers. It was exemplified by the fact it locked out its workers, sat on its hands and essentially relied on the government to force its workers back.
We shouldn't fool ourselves that the post office thinks of magazine subs and the volumes of direct mail and renewals as being critical to their business. The famous quote from former CEO Moya Green (now running the Royal Mail in Britain) was that the magazine business was a "rounding error" for CPC.
Things are not likely to get better with the imposed settlement. The postal business has been permanently impaired by the stoppage (one estimate was that 1% of their lettermail and package business disappeared, never to return, with every day of the lockout).Which will require even more service cuts.
It seems likely that our current 5-day-a-week mail system won't continue much longer. There could be pressure to retain to-the-door delivery, but reduce it to three days a week, for instance.
Even those who have for years said they'd like to work with Canada Post to make it work better for magazines are now coming to the conclusion that the industry needs to do the research and the hard work that would go into developing a parallel or alternative delivery system. 
In 2006, a feasibility study was done for a group of larger industry companies by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) and it recommended a test, but cost, complexity and timing precluded it. Rogers Publishing did a test on its own in 2007 for delivery of Maclean's in one market (Toronto) using private contractors who normally deliver daily newspapers. The results were good and showed that it was feasible, but to achieve the necessary savings, Rogers would have needed to shift significant volumes of its magazines to the newspapers' systems and it went no further.
The industry pinned its hopes on reforming its relationship with Canada Post. That hope seems to be fading and the urgency for an alternative increasing.
Any such alternative would be very complicated and won't happen overnight -- in fact it could take five or 10 years. It would involve a lot of collaborative hard work and research to devise something that served not only concentrated urban audiences and big circulations with heavier magazines but the far flung small town and rural readers upon which so much Canadian magazine publishing is based. Such an initiative will almost certainly need to involve the industry association, Magazines Canada.
It wouldn't be to the advantage of the larger publishers to go their own way, abandoning smaller magazines to their fate; it would have to be a "plan for all" that benefited magazines and readers. And, who knows, Canada Post may smarten up in the face of it. But I wouldn't bet your database on it.
It's not clear how much of any alternative would involve digital delivery, though a private or industry-run service might be created that made a weekly or monthly delivery of all printed, subscribed magazines to individual addresses. There are examples in the expedite industry of combining deliveries for many different shippers.
First, the hard work has to be done and the end of this postal disruption is a good time to start to make sure the Canadian magazine industry isn't caught flat-footed by the next one. 

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Meredith acquires Eating Well and online properties; launches recipe and coupon site

[This post has been updated]
A magazine publishing giant has expanded its footprint in the food category by gobbling up a successful mid-sized player and launching a new food-related website. Meredith Corp. has purchased the Vermont-based EatingWell Media Group, publishers of Eating Well magazine and its related online products. The takeover also coincides with the launch by Meredith of a sort of combination food and couponing site, according to a release from the company. It will feature a large number of well-known brands such as Betty Crocker, Campbell's, Fleischmann's, French's, Keebler, Kellogg's, Morningstar Farms, Pace Salsa & Picante, Pepperidge Farm, Prego, and Swanson.

Terms of the deal were not announced, but Meredith pointed to the fact that 60% of Eating Well's revenue comes from non-print sources: "digital publishing sources, licensing and custom marketing". It said that it plans to increase Eating Well's print circulation rate base from its current 350,000 to 500,000 by next year.
"Meredith already produces great food content across our brands, and food is our top advertising category," said Meredith chairman and CEO Steve Lacy. "In acquiring EatingWell and launching, we've added two anchor brands to serve the 75 million American women we engage every month, and the marketers that want to reach them."
Meredith publishes a range of women's lifestyle titles including More (which publishes a Canadian version in partnership with Transcontinental Media), Better Homes and Gardens, American Baby, Family Circle, Ladies' Home Journal, Parents, Traditional Home, Fitness and Diabetic Living. The EatingWell website joins the Meredith Women's Network, which reaches 25 million unique monthly visitors and averages 275 million monthly page views.  Eating Well has a readership of 1.8 million and 2 million unique visitors a month to

As a result of the merger, the CEO of EatingWell Media Group, Thomas Witschi, becomes executive vice-president of the national media group and president of its lifestyle portfolio.
Eating Well has also been part of the iVillage Food network. iVillage recently launched a Canadian site in partnership with Rogers Media.
[Update: The story of Eating Well has a strong Canadian connection. Its founding editor in 1990 by James Lawrence (one of the founders of Harrowsmith and Equinox magazines and Camden House Publishing) backed by  Telemedia Communications of Toronto, which later sold controlling interest to multinational publisher Hachette Filippachi, but it was folded in 1999 because of weak ad sales. Lawrence and some partners revived it in 2002 as a quarterly and by 2005 had increased its circ to 300,000 bimonthly.  

In 2003 Lawrence (who is no longer with the magazine) wrote this about its misadventures in corporate publishing:
"Born in a small Vermont town, the mag was bought by Hachette Filipacchi after several years, then deep-sixed in 1999. A group of original founders brought it back in 2002, after watching their baby 'run by international publishing titans in New York who tended to hash out problems over expense account lunches at Le Cirque," he said, in an editor's note.  [h/t to Vermont Biz]
The irony, of course, is that it has now been swallowed again, by one of the biggest magazine publishing companies in the world.]


Friday, June 24, 2011

HP creates a digital magazine called Pivot
to sell apps

Hewlett-Packard is fighting an uphill battle in trying to get some attention paid to its new tablet computer, the TouchPad, which will be available from Canadian retailers July 15. So what does it use as a means of raising awareness, according to a post by the Los Angeles Times? It creates a magazine; more specifically a monthly digital magazine called Pivot that will spotlight the apps available as part of its WebOS, integral to the new tablet. Its intention is clearly to use the magazine to encourage downloads and app sales.
Pivot will publish "original content by journalists and photographers affiliated with leading publications" and include "visually driven editorial pieces, columns from notable guest writers sharing their perspectives on digital culture, feature stories focused on applications around specific topics, and in-depth reviews," HP said.
The magazine is also looking to reach not just U.S. customers but also international WebOS users by being offered each month in English, French, German and Spanish.


Outstanding designs featured in Azure's
summer issue

Azure, the design magazine, features the best architecture and design in its July/August issue, including what the jury in its recently-announced AZ Awards determined to be the best residential building, called Linear House, on Salt Spring Island, British Columbia. The project was handled by Patkau Architects of Vancouver. The issue, which spotlights the finalists and winners of the awards in many different categories such as furniture, lighting, residential space, is on newsstands on Monday.
“Linear House is such a ­beautiful, strong, clear piece of architecture," wrote juror Glenn Pushelberg. "Very simple and very muscular, sitting on the landscape. It is incredible.” 

CAmagazine celebrates 100 years of keeping chartered accountants informed

CAmagazine is celebrating one hundred years of publication come July, making it one of Canada's oldest continuously published magazines. It was launched in July 1911 as a modest black-and-white journal called The Canadian Chartered Accountant, serving the Dominion Association of Chartered Accountants' 246 members. at that time promising ""Our pages will be open for discussions, for news and any other purposes tending to bring the members more closely in touch with one another."It was renamed CA magazine in 1973 and today has a circulation of 90,000, ten times a year. 
The anniversary was marked by a gala event last night in Toronto and the centennial edition features a special section looking at the accounting profession decade-by-decade as well as a special reprint of the first-ever edition.  A digital version of Vol 1, no. 1 is available.
Carine Wilson, the publisher and vice-president, member services of the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants said in a release:
"The magazine has been the profession's historian, advisor, referee and its conscience. It has given Chartered Accountants a voice and helped them connect with peers from coast to coast."
The recently appointed editor, Okey Chigbo, told those at the gala event the magazine is proudly committed to the mission set out in the first issue, but would be striving to keep on top of or ahead of the challenges of CAs in the future. He joked that someone told him he was responsible for the next 100 years.


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Trading places at Toronto Life
and Roger's business titles

All change! With the impending arrival of Christine Dewairy from Rogers Publishing to art direct Toronto Life, the business and finance titles at Rogers (for which she was responsible in addition to Maclean's) were looking for a new art director. Where did they find one? John Montgomery, the associate art director at Toronto Life, who is moving to design Canadian Business, Money Sense and Profit magazines. It's almost like someone blows a whistle and people start changing chairs.


Apple promoting and rewarding magazines which conform to app-sub model

Apple's iTunes store is having a significant impact on sales of compliant U.S. magazine brands and appears to be rewarding titles which opt into the app subscription model that Apple prefers, according to a post on minonline. There is a rotating marquee of such titles as Glamour, Vanity Fair and Bloomberg Business Week, all of which offer app-based sub models from which Apple takes a commission.
We wondered whether this higher visibility on the App storefront is connected in any way with sales success. "Absolutely," says Chris Wilkes, Hearst's VP of digital editions. "Promotion by Apple can drive significant spikes in volume. Clearly Apple is putting muscle behind magazine brands and the in-app subscriptions they rolled out earlier this year. They'll go even further later this year when they roll out the Newsstand they announced at their WWDC earlier this month."
Minonline tallied some of the top grossing apps for U.S.magazine publishers as of June 22 as a "rough approximation" of performance:
11. New York Post ($1.99)
14. The Daily ($.99/week)
30. Marvel Comics (in-app comics purchases ~$1.99/issue)
33. Comixology (in-app comics purchases ~$1.99/issue)
35. The New Yorker ($59.99/year, $4.99/issue)
44. Wired ($19.99/year, $3.99/issue)
65. DC Comics (in-app comics purchases, ~$1.99/issue)
85. People ($3.99/issue)
90. Food Network ($3.99)
91. GQ ($19.99/year, $4.99/issue)
95. Cooking Light Recipes ($3.99)
104. Self ($19.99/year, $3.99/issue)
108. Vanity Fair ($19.99/year, $4.99/issue)
124. Popular Mechanics ($19.99/year, $3.99/issue)
136. Popular Science ($14.99/year, $2.99/issue)

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Annual subs to new Sportsnet magazine from Rogers may sell for $1.50 an issue

We are learning a bit more about Rogers Publishing's new Sportsnet magazine, to be launched in the fall. For one thing, the price point. 
An online survey being conducted now suggests that a single copy price may be $4.95, a one-year, 26-issue subscription could be $39 (about $1.50 per issue) and a monthly subscription available to Rogers Advantage customers could be discounted 10% to $3 a month ($36 annually) when paid with the cable or wireless bill. 
The survey seems to be designed to sound out how many customers might opt for a pre-publication subscription and how many are going to take a wait-and-see attitude.
The new magazine is one of the biggest launches of recent years,with a proposed biweekly circulation of 100,000, taking advantage of synergies with Rogers's prominent network of television, radio and sports franchises (Toronto Blue Jays)

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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Cardholders will access full digital magazines at their local branch library

If you think the digital tsunami is sweeping over magazine publishers, consider the way the wave is affecting public libraries. A story on Folio: reports on a new partnership between Zinio (which works with Magazines Canada already on delivering digital issues of members magazines) and Recorded Books (a leading publisher of audiobooks) that will grant library visitors access to digital magazines with the use of their library card. 
Zinio announced today its partnership with Recorded Books, making thousands of digital magazines accessible in public libraries throughout the US, Canada, Australia and UK.
“People love going to their public library to read a large selection of magazines, but printed copies can easily get damaged, lost or destroyed,” said Rich Freese, president and CEO, Recorded Books.
Library patrons can browse Zinio’s page-for-page platform of popular titles like Consumer Reports, Car & Driver, Good Housekeeping, The Economist, ESPN Magazine and Esquire.
Functional on both Mac and PC operating systems, Zinio for Libraries will feature tools that include key word article search and interactive elements such as audio and video.
Recorded Books will launch the program at the American Libraries Association conference in New Orleans, which is being held June 24 through June 27.

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Quote, unquote: For trade magazines, not so easy shucking print

"I don't know any publishers who are talking seriously now about a wholesale move to web only, but a lot of that is due to scale. If you own 200 titles and one goes web only well you still have the printing and distribution costs of 199 other titles."
--Douglas McCabe of Enders Analysis, quoted in a story in the Guardian about the future of trade magazines. The article uses as examples a number of high profile switchovers from print to online, but also gives examples of where the "comfort of print" still has a lot of staying power.

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iPad magazine adoption is a little bit of history repeating itself: CJR

The adoption of iPad magazines is following a similar trajectory to that of other major publishing formats going back generations, says a story from the Columbia Journalism Review, cautioning that looking at falling sales figures over a short span doesn't really reflect the longer-term impacts.
iPad magazines are not stumbling for the exact same reasons that the first books, print magazines, or “web logs” were slow out of the gate—each new platform had and has its own cultural, political, and technological challenges. But there are similarities between how those new technologies were received in the public eye and mind then that suggest the iPad magazine, rather than being in dire straits, is simply following a well-trod path.
The bend in that path that we’re still waiting for is the one where cheaper prices, wider availability, and normalization mean the new publishing platform takes off.
The story points to the fact that, while history doesn't necessarily repeat itself, there are interesting analogies. Paper was once extremely expensive and hard to get, which ensured it was an elite product for some time, but that as it became less expensive, its use in disseminating printed material became more widespread. Newspapers proliferated only when availability, affordability and literacy enabled them to.
The story of magazines follows a similar plot. While newspapers focused on the news, magazines were largely considered a frivolity for the leisured middle class. Despite their physical appeal, adoption was limited. What factors changed that? The same factors that helped the printing press and newspaper hit mass market: a cultural shift and increased distribution. People had more leisure time and magazines were able to offer more value—including photographs and illustrations, for example—at a lower cost.
Digital magazines are less a technological revolution than a portable form of something that already exists, says Zachary Sniderman.
The final test for iPad magazines will be whether, like newspapers and magazines and blogs and even Gutenberg’s press, people will become habituated to its new format. The success of the iPad will likely come down to whether we buy its distribution model and accept it into the culture, or decide that iPads, tablets, and their magazines, really are just a gimmick.

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The importance of editorial "earned media"

A weird term that has cropped up recently is "earned media", by which advertisers mean editorial content and public relations. A joint research study from Synaptic Digital and Kantar Video, reported by MediaPost, seems to say that brand messages from advertisers resonate best with consumers when packaged in newsworthy, informative formats rather than a straight-ahead paid ads (note that the research focusses on TV).  Perhaps "earned media" is the new term for "advertorial".  Hard to say.
The research asked 1,800 respondents to look at messages about a major American automotive brand, the messages being provided in a variety of ways and the results were measured against brand awareness, perceived favourability and persuasiveness. The study found that as consumers concentrate more on a purchasing decision (or to use the ineffable phrase "move through the sales funnel") brand ads work best when augmented by earned and paid content. In other words, being associated with editorial and public relations messages.
Women are able to piece together messages delivered via brand advertising and newsy formats. Those score significantly higher on brand metrics than any one format, while men are influenced by earned media, or public relations, and little else, according to the study findings.

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Magaward best cover winner said to be "divorced from reality" of the newsstand

Scott Bullock is well-known as a magazine newsstand expert and a guy with strong opinions about what works and what doesn't in driving single copy sales. I defer to his expertise (almost) completely on such matters.
But I have to disagree with his recent post on his CoversSell blog (mirrored on Masthead) about this year's winner in the cover category at the National Magazine Awards.
Bullock felt that the selection of Feathertale Review as best magazine cover flew in the face of commercial realities.Aside from the fact that judges judge the covers which are entered and that he seems not to have noticed the New Yorker parody,  he suggest that circulation and commercial success should somehow be a factor in deciding what the "best cover" should be. (That's what I thought the Canadian Newsstand Awards were about.) Anyway, here's what he said, in part:
I suspect that a very small percentage of the magazine junkies in attendance at the Carlu had ever heard of these titles, let alone ever purchased a copy.   I suspect an even smaller percentage of Canadians have either.   Yet these are the titles held up as the very best examples of what a great cover should look like?  I suppose if this were a fashion show, it would be the equivalent of couture vs. ready to wear.  On the one hand, creative and edgy, on the other, completely divorced from the reality of what it takes to sell single copies or subscriptions.
With a very few exceptions, the magazine awards are, and have always been, based on what is on the page, honouring the work of creators. Not marketers. Not distributors. Not even readers. And how many copies are distributed is irrelevant. Again, you enter, you're judged against all other entries and you win, or not. I have no inside information on how the judges decided, but I have absolutely no problem with Feathertale being the winner.


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Swerve named western magazine of the year at Western Magazine Awards

Swerve EIC Shelley Youngblut, AD Danae Thompson, Living editor Meghan Jessiman
This post is a bit late acknowledging the winners of the Western Magazine Awards, announced on Friday in Vancouver. Swerve magazine  of Calgary was the standout winner, named Western Canada magazine of the year, as well as magazine of the year for NWT/Alberta and winning  a gold award for best article, five written awards and one visual award. (Swerve's post on the wins here.)
As announced in advance, the lifetime achievement award was presented to photographer Alex Waterhouse-Hayward.
Full list of finalists and winners


The Economist reports worldwide revenue jumped 9% in fiscal year ended March

The Economist, the worldwide media brand that often sets the pace for other magazine companies to follow today reported that its overall revenue was up 9% (to about $563 million) for the fiscal year ended March 31. North America accounted for $259 million. Its profit was up 10% (about $102 million). The results were reported by Folio:
  • its worldwide circulation grew by 4% (to reach 1.5 million) and 2.5% in North America (833,667)
  • advertising growth was up 14% for print (to $172 million) and 23% for digital (to $32 million)
  • ad pages in the U.S. edition were u p 4.2% in the first quarter of 2011
"We strengthened the pay barrier in October and this contributed positively to our web- based subscription revenues," said Nigel Ludlow, managing director, Economist Online, UK. "Digital subscribers gain access to our online service as well as the editions we publish for the iPad and iPhone. The average weekly volume of digital customers who took out their subscription through The Economist online rose by 50 percent on the previous year." [emphasis added]

Magazines Canada doesn't speak for us on postal back-to-work bill: indy publishers

A group of independent magazine publishers are unhappy with Magazines Canada speaking for them on the matter of back-to-work legislation for postal workers. As an extension of a week of lobbying with the federal government, this week Magazines Canada president Mark Jamison wrote a letter to labour minister Lisa Raitt commending the government for its intent of legislating an end to the dispute at Canada Post (lockout by management following rotating strikes by the Canadian Union of Postal Workers.). 
Apparently the sentiments expressed stuck in the craw of four independent publishers who are members of Magazines Canada:  The Dominion (an editorial collective), Briarpatch magazine, Canadian Dimension and Our Times. All could reasonably be described as being progressive or left-of-centre publications. Their statement said, in part
As editors and publishers in an industry that critically depends on reliable and efficient postal service to fulfill our obligations to readers, we share Magazines Canada’s concern for the impacts of the lockout on the magazine industry as a whole. However, we categorically oppose the introduction of back-to-work legislation, which denies 48,000 postal workers their fundamental right to collectively negotiate the terms and conditions of their employment. This action is an unnecessary and unjust intervention by the Harper government in support of Canada Post management, and a direct attack on postal workers’ rights to organize and bargain collectively.

As members of Magazines Canada, we would like to affirm our appreciation for the indispensable service that postal workers provide to magazine readers, writers and creators alike, and express our support for the struggle of postal workers to defend their right to safe, healthy and fair working conditions. 

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Newspaper-carried magazines lead top 30 notable U.S. launches list

Samir "Mr. Magazine" Husni has released his 30 most notable (U.S.) magazine launches list for 2010 and co-leaders are magazines that are distinguished by being distributed through newspapers -- Athlon Sports and Dash, a food magazine.
Husni and his team selected Athlon Sports, a monthly magazine, launched in October 2010, aimed at men and with a circulation of 7 million, principally because it debuts as the largest sports magazine in the U.S. and has a hefty web as well as print presence. Dash was selected after launching with 8 million copies, moving it to the front of the pack among cooking magazines and serving a largely female audience which doesn't necessarily subscribe to cooking magazines. It is produced by the same people as publish the newspaper supplement Parade.
When reviewing all launches, the Mr. Magazine staff try to answer five questions:
1. How much publicity did the magazine generate at launch?
2. How relevant was the magazine to intended market?
3. Was the magazine notably diversified and specialized?
4. How innovative was the magazine?
5. Was the magazine so bizarre that it had to be included?


Friday, June 17, 2011

Toronto Star columnist about business school journals: "Do us all a favour; don't publish."

David Olive, a business columnist at the Toronto Star (and at one time editor-in-chief of  Report on Business magazine) recently took a poke on his blog at business schools who publish their own management journals. He was prompted by an article he dissects from the well-known Harvard Business Review, but he's clearly aiming at other biz school journals as well, including ones closer to home.
His criticisms range from the conflicted nature of business school faculty contributors who are also corporate directors and consultants to the fact that they are often five year's behind the curve in the things they write about.  He goes on about the often leaden prose in such journals:
Those who can't write teach. To paraphrase FDR's father on the superior ethics of Republicans, I'm not saying all lousy writers are teachers. But all teachers are lousy writers. There are just enough exceptions to the rule to allow for the justly influential writing of academics like Paul Krugman and Robert Reich in the MSM. But more's the pity since it opens the door to academics who couldn't write a compelling sentence even with the inducement of free Super Bowl tickets.
...The b-school journal's editor - what a thankless job - is obliged, notwithstanding the above, to publish impenetrable works by the faculty. This is a political affair, of course. The editor can dress things up with a Q&A with Paul Volcker or Bill Gates, but to spare an uptick in unruly faculty meetings the rest of the book must be taken up with the dry husks of faculty contributions. University politics are more bitter than other varieties because, as it has often been said, so little is at stake. 
Olive also says 
I suppose if they put me in charge I'd scrap the flagship b-school journal, if not the school itself, and use the funds to ensure that a well-rounded liberal arts education was more widely available to aspiring students in financial need. Matt Barrett, whose CEO tenure at Bank of Montreal was marked by 10 successive years of increased revenue and profit, was often given to saying his ideal hire would be a college graduate steeped in Chaucer and Emily Dickinson.
"It is far more important that a student graduate from university having read Dante… than understanding the practice of double-entry accounting," said Barrett, who after ramping up BMO's profits went on to do the same at the larger Barclays PLC of Britain.


Thursday, June 16, 2011

Meredith shutters ReadyMade, the DIY magazine for 20-somethings

How often have we seen a feisty, energetic independent magazine swallowed by a major publishing group, only to later be closed? Too often, I'd say, and the latest example is the closure of DIY darling ReadyMade. Meredith Corporation is closing the magazine, eliminating 75 jobs and writing down $10 million, according to an article in Ad Age
The bimonthly was founded in Berkeley, California as a quarterly in 2001 and increased frequency to 6 times a year in 2004, with the aim of serving younger, 20- and 30-something readers than would traditionally look at the likes of Meredith's gargantuan Better Homes and Gardens and Ladies Home Journal and it was acquired by Meredith in 2006.
The magazine described itself as being 
"for people who like to make stuff, who see the flicker of invention in everyday objects -- the perfectly round yolk in the mundane egg." 
Co-founders Grace Hawthorne, the publisher and chief editor Shoshanna Berger stayed with the magazine, based on the promise of keeping operations in the San Francisco Bay area. They later bailed when in 2009 Meredith consolidated the operation with other magazines in Des Moines, Iowa. None of the editorial staff chose to relocate.
While ReadyMade's circulation grew to more than 335,000 on Meredith's watch, it still wasn't making money. The publisher, Jeff Wellington, left in late February and was not replaced (a good indicator of being on the slippery slope). 
The magazine, which was beloved of its audience, continued to be so under Meredith. But the fit was apparently not as good as Meredith had thought and it was struggling with much bigger problems with its National Media Group, which saw Q1 ad revenue fall 11% and circ rev decline by 9%.
"Positioning Meredith for continued growth requires periodic realignment of resources, including how we deploy our workforce," Meredith Chairman-CEO Steve Lacy said in a  bloodless statement confirming the closure. "These actions will enable us to devote additional resources to key strategic growth initiatives, including digital platform expansion."


Quote, unquote: The surprising place where NatGeo's new readers will come from

Even though it’s a very small piece of our circulation domestically, we see [new readers] coming from single copy sales. That’s something we watch very closely because that means someone put down $5.99 of hard-earned money and made the decision to buy this magazine. That is an especially important part of gauging relevance. There is an age group that’s probably 10 years younger than the subscribers who are buying that newsstand copy. We’re very tuned in to what’s appealing to them and what isn’t. If they can get hooked on that single copy issue, we can track where that subscription came from. We’re certain we’ve got an audience skewed a little younger with the Web.
-- Chris Johns, editor of National Geographic, whose title was named this year's Magazine of the Year at the U.S. National Magazine Awards, responding to a question from Folio: magazine about where he thinks new readers are going to come from. An interesting answer, since at one time National Geographic didn't sell on newsstands.


Ken Whyte reaches the top at Rogers Publishing; lauded for "content savvy and business acumen"

Ken Whyte is to become president of Rogers Publishing Limited effective September 1, culminating his rapid rise through the ranks of management to now be responsible for all consumer and trade publishing at the company. He is replacing Brian Segal, who announced his retirement in late April.
A release from the company quoted Keith Pelley, president of the parent company, Rogers Media Inc. about Whyte:
"Ken is an exceptional leader. His stellar content-savvy and business acumen make him the natural choice for this role. We will be counting on his leadership not only within Rogers Publishing, but as part of my senior team. We'll also be looking to him to leverage his content expertise across the Rogers Media organization."
Whyte joined Rogers in 2005 as publisher and editor-in-chief of Maclean's magazine and rose to be publisher of several publications until being named vice-president of Rogers Consumer Publishing in August 2010 and six months later adding to the sense of inevitability of his rise to the top by taking responsibility for French as well as English titles and being promoted to executive vice-president of consumer publishing.
In the company release, Whyte said
"We have a portfolio of some of the most-loved media brands in the country run by some of the most talented people in the business. It is a thrill to be part of Keith Pelley's team as he transforms Rogers Media. The pace of change under his leadership has been unbelievable. It's an exciting time to be here. It's also an honour to follow in Brian Segal's footsteps at Rogers Publishing. Brian has been a great leader and a generous mentor to me and everyone here wishes him all the best."
Related posts:


When does an editor's involvement with advertisers' products cross the line?

Don't compromise yourself. You are all you've got. -- Janis Joplin
At the recent MagNet conference I heard some examples of where editors involved themselves deeply in the advertising sales and promotional activities of their publications.
In one instance, three editors in one company permitted their own kitchens to be photographed for a special section, with all the appliances on countertops replaced with those sold by the sole major advertiser.
In another, the editor actively participated in a contest in which readers picked their preferred kitchen from among the offerings of a major advertiser and the winning kitchen was installed and photographed in the editor's home .
There have been other, recent examples of editors crossing over into marketing, notably the editorpublisher of Canadian House & Home, Lynda Reeves, posing on the cover of a "flip book" done in conjunction with Procter and Gamble. (In earlier examples, magazines have permitted the use of editorial pages to allow acetate overlays of ads.)
Whether this is the result of pressure editors are feeling from advertisers and their own publishers, or whether they no longer see any clear boundaries concerning editorial integrity and separation of ads and editorial, the central question is what readers think and what's good for the long-term health of magazines. 
Some editors I have spoken with say that their integrity is intact and that readers are not misled. Others say that being flexible is a reflection of new economic realities. Still others bristle at any implication that they might have sold out. But I sincerely wonder if readers will, as a result, come to regard all content as part of paid hustle. 
We are, after all, in the business of renting advertisers access to readers in an editorial environment readers trust. Can/will readers distinguish the editorial pages from the ad pages and do they care if they can't? With the editor's presence in a photo shoot that has been styled with advertisers' products, will readers infer it as an endorsement? And is there anything that the industry can do to clarify this?
A few months ago, the latest iteration of the magazine industry advertising-editorial guidelines was published (I was a member of the task force revising them). While it does not specifically preclude editors appearing in ads in their own magazines (perhaps it should) the intent of the guidelines is clearly set out in the introduction.
Magazine readers value both editorial content and advertising as sources of information. The integrity and long-term viability of magazines depends, however, on a clear distinction between the two—without it, both editorial and advertising lose credibility with the reader.
The blurring of ad-edit lines is proceeding apace in magazine websites, what with "takeover" pages and popups and ad placements and microsites produced by the same people who design the editorial pages. So far, the ad-edit lines remain a little more distinct in print, but this seems to be eroding. And when the editorial gatekeepers are willing participants in blurring the lines, it seems to be less and less necessary for any pressure to be applied by advertisers or their own publishers.


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Murder in a good cause as TNQ combines mystery, brunch and a reading

The literary magazine The New Quarterly in Waterloo is combining murder, mayhem, books and fundraising on July 9 in Waterloo. The central focus is the book Bury Your Dead by Louise Penny, which is this year's One Book, One Community selection. A customized murder mystery has been scripted, informed by the book, and will be performed by The Mysterious Players. 
By the end of dessert, participants will be expected to have solved the crime. Tickets for the event are $70 (part of the proceeds go to TNQ) and include the brunch at the The Embassy, 56 King Street North, Waterloo.(There will be a reading from the OBOC title, although the author will not be able to be there.)


How are the big US magazine publishers faring with their apps? has compiled a table of information about the magazine apps being developed by the big-4 magazine publishers Condé Nast, Hearst, Time Inc., Meredith. It details types of apps, with examples of each and some data on pricing.
In its introduction, it says that publishers are putting a lot of faith in apps and said the compilation was an attempt to show what they've got for their efforts:
The publishers are secretive with some of the metrics. Take total downloads. Meredith, the smallest of the four publishers, was the only one to provide a current download total for its apps—800,000. Back in April, Condé Nast told us its 22 apps (the number has since increased; see chart) had been downloaded 7 million times. Revenue, too, is something of a black hole, as publishers are happy to talk about the new bells and whistles in their apps, but grow silent when it comes to talking about the profit picture with their apps.

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Magazine world view: Ancient Banker; RDNA prez; Webby love; modesty forbids


Christine Dewairy leaves Maclean's to art direct Toronto Life

[This post has been updated) Christine Dewairy, who has been the triplequadruple-barrelled art director of Maclean's, Canadian Business ,Profit and Money Sense magazines at Rogers Publishing,  is moving to St. Joseph Media to become art director of Toronto Life. She replaces Jessica Rose, who resigned recently and is in the process of moving to England.
Dewairy started her career a decade ago at Saturday Night magazine and then spent five years at the Saturday (Weekend) Post and Saturday Post Fashion before joining Maclean's as art director in 2005 and oversaw a complete redesign. In 2009 -- consistent with Rogers Publishing's penchant for senior managers overseeing multiple titles -- she was made responsible for the art direction of Canadian Business and Profit; later, also Money Sense

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Magazines facing a severe impact with postal dispute, says Magazines Canada

Magazines Canada has written a letter (oh, irony) to Lisa Raitt, the federal labour minister responsible for Canada Post, in which it asks for intervention in the lockout and strike as early as possible. President Mark Jamison said the labour and management actions over the past 12 days have had "no discernible impact on negotiations".
The shutdown announced today will stop the delivery of millions of magazines destined for Canadians’ homes and businesses. In each of Canada’s 308 ridings over 25,000 subscriptions are purchased. Our readers do not deserve this situation.
This interruption in postal delivery, if allowed to continue, will have a severe impact on the Canadian magazine sector’s capacity to fulfill its obligation to Canadian readers. The vast majority of Canadian-content magazines read by Canadians are purchased by subscription and delivered to consumers through the Canada Post network. There are no alternative distribution channels for these magazines that can be adopted in the short term. Faced with this prolonged stoppage in postal delivery, magazines, printing companies and distribution support companies will need to reduce activity and work force, extending the negative impact of the job action to include many more families and businesses across Canada.

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Four out of five couponing customers don't come back, report says

Recently, magazines in Canada have jumped on the couponing bandwagon, offering deep discounts in daily deals through sites like Groupon. The idea is to build subscriptions and, perhaps, to expose the magazines to new customers who will renew. This may be a faint hope.
According to research published by Rice University (reported by ClickZ) , while 80% of deal users were new customers, only 20% return for full price purchases at participating retailers. This is an analogous experience with magazines' experience with stampsheets and agency sales; such customers are inconstant and tend not to renew well.
Surprisingly, the Rice study found that 21.7% of customers don't even bother to redeem vouchers they paid for.

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