Thursday, December 22, 2011

Design Thinkers Conference Inspires UPPERCASE Magazine Publisher

[Travel bursaries for voting magazine members are just one of the many benefit programs that we provide at the Alberta Magazine Publishers Association. We've asked bursary recipients to share their professional development travel experiences]
Having heard great reviews of DesignThinkers conference over the years, I finally got to experience it firsthand this year thanks to a bursary from AMPA. With an eclectic variety of speakers, presenters were from a graphic design background (advertising legend George Lois, book designer Chip Kidd, lettering goddess Jessica Hische) and from big companies (speakers representing Google, Oprah Magazine, and Method Home). The conference was very broadly about design thinking—about how creativity can affect change, enhance communities, engage consumers and entertain audiences. As magazine publishers, these are our goals.

Surprisingly, I found the most useful information for succeeding in publishing from two guys who make nice-smelling soap. Method, by combining eco-conscious products with innovative thinking and eye-catching design in a very traditional product category, has become an extremely successful company. Conference keynote presenter Eric Ryan (founder of Method) has a background in advertising; his friend (and co-founder) Adam Lowry was a climate scientist in his previous career. Theirs is an entertaining story, honestly presenting the failures alongside the success.

So how does running a cleaning products company relate to publishing a magazine? It's all in the attitude and using the Method method of business thinking. Here are some of the most relevant points:

Inspire Advocates
Create a product that people love and they will not only become dedicated customers but advocates for your brand. If you publish a magazine that people love (not just like), they can't live without it. The magazine becomes part of their way of life—they identify themselves by it. They proudly tell others about it, they're invested in the content and they support it financially. My magazine UPPERCASE is built on this notion; it was heartening to see this approach work so successful on a bigger scale.

Kick Ass at Fast
If you're not one of the "big guys" then you have to be better in other areas. For Method, this means that the relative small size of their company and manufacturing processes allows them to quickly seize opportunities of trends or customer feedback and implement change swiftly. For magazine publishers, it means that interacting and reacting with readers in real time is vital. You can no longer exist just in the realm of print—social media engagement is a vital and required offshoot of publishing content. Readers expect a dialogue; create a platform where this can happen and it will result in a stronger base for your publication. Smaller publications can achieve this much more easily than large publishing conglomerates, since readers can access us on a more intimate level.

Relationship Retail
Having fewer but more reliable customers is better than having lots of one-time customers. Method realized that their version of laundry detergent will never compete with "Tide", but they realized that their ideal customer will pay more for a product that they respect and understand. So fewer newsstand sales is fine if you have a strong subscriber base—a long term relationship is what magazines need to cultivate.

Win on Product Experience
Method is all about delivering an exceptional product experience. They take the mundane such as toilet bowl cleaner and reinvent the category, elevating the product design and packaging into something unique, useful and memorable. Whatever topic your magazine covers, yours should be the ultimate: the most reliable reference delivering the most intelligent expertise in the most engaging way possible.

Design Driven 
To differentiate your product on the shelves, your design needs to be different. And not just different for the sake of different, but different for good reason. When Method launched its first product, they hired Karim Rashid, a superstar in industrial design, who created a bottle that not only looked unique, but one that functioned in a whole new way. Theirs was so innovative and unique on the shelves that other companies had to struggle to catch up to this new standard. Good design comes from good thinking. Make sure that the packaging of your magazine is in service of its content and that it recognizes the intelligence of its readers.

I'm eager to take more of what I learned from Method and the DesignThinkers conference and apply it to my publishing adventure.

I invite you to read more highlights of DesignThinkers on the UPPERCASE blog.
--- Janine Vangool
Publisher, Editor, Designer, UPPERCASE Magazine

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Alberta Magazine Awards – Call for Entries!

Fame. Fortune. Freakouts! Okay, maybe not freakouts, I was thinking of a different kind of winning (see below). But it is Alberta Magazine Awards time again, folks! Time to salute the great achievements of Alberta magazines over this past year with praise, trophies, recognition, and yes, moola! The Alberta Showcase Award winners each receive $250 cash, not to mention bragging rights. This year, we’ve added a new category—Best Digital Presence—to highlight publishing digital innovations. Both online magazines and magazine companion websites are eligible.

I’ve seen several award-worthy pieces over the past year, and the only way to get the recognition they deserve is to submit an entry. This is your time to shine so don’t hem and haw about whether to enter, just do it!

And don’t forget about the Achievement Awards either. This includes the oh-so-coveted Editor of the Year Award. (We’re pleased to affirm that last year’s winner Käthe Lemon is still living and working in Alberta—stop stealing our talent, rest of Canada!) It’s also time to nominate supastars for the Achievement in Publishing Award. (Who could forget how genuinely surprised and touched Rob Tanner was winning the inaugural award?) This year, it could be your turn to be publicly verklempt!

So get your nominations in by January 31, 2012—earlier would be greatly appreciated. We strongly encourage you not to wait until 4pm on the 31st to come crashing into the AMPA office—you know who you are! And mark your calendar for March 22 at the Alberta Magazines Conference when the winners will be announced. It’ll be a fabulous night of oohing and ahhing, not to missed!

Be a winner--but maybe not this kind. (As if I could pass up the chance to reference the Sheen-ster!)
For some inspiration, check out the list of last year’s winners.

--- Colleen Seto
AMPA Blogger-in-Residence

Monday, December 12, 2011

How to Integrate Your Magazine with Social Media: Glamour Magazine's Facebook Scavenger Hunt

Now that Facebook is up to 800 million active users, (confess already, you just logged in and checked your Facebook, didn't you?) it really does make sense for magazines to use it for promotional purposes. Glamour did just that with its September 2011 issue: the print magazine was integrated with Facebook using the new Social SnapTag technology.

A Social SnapTag is similar to a QR code, but users do not need a QR scanner or smartphone to interact. In Glamour, the SnapTags redirect users to sweepstakes entries, exclusive celebrity interviews and invitations to Glamour sponsored events, if they “liked” the publication or brand. Twenty-five advertisers took part and the publication hosted 20 of its own editorial tags for a total of 45.

So, did it work? Heck yes. The promo generated over 500,000 impressions and increased Glamour’s number of Facebook fans by 50,000.
The creative services director for Glamour told Audience Development:
“The idea was to drive as many likes as possible for advertisers. If you hovered your phone over a Lancome ad and liked them with your phone, you could then be eligible to win a trip or eye-make up for a year--the consumer would always get something back.

“It was like a scavenger hunt where readers would look for the [SnapTag/Facebook] logo throughout the issue and it was distinct. Not only could you download it and scan it, but if you didn’t have a smartphone you could take a picture of it and text it. We wanted it to work with as many phones as possible.”

Glamour also plans to unveil a “shopable” issue in March, where Facebook users will have the ability to like brands and purchase goods directly from the magazine with their cell phones, and be given incentives to do so.

What do you think? Would you SnapTag your mag? Would your advertisers? Or, as a reader, would you interact with a SnapTag?
--- Colleen Seto
AMPA Blogger-in-Residence

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

RedPoint Media on the Growth Track

I remember when RedPoint Media didn’t exist. It was early in my freelance career, and I’d just started writing for Avenue because I’d had the good fortune to intern under then-editor Charlene Rooke at her previous post at U of C’s alumni magazine.

RedPoint Media was born when it merged Avenue Media Group and Calgary Publishing Ltd and the publishing of their flagship titles Avenue and the now-defunct Calgary magazine.

Now one of the largest independent publishing companies in Western Canada, RedPoint is creating new buzz with its recent partnership with the Calgary Economic Development to develop a national marketing and business development campaign called "Calgary: Be Part of the Energy." The campaign is designed to attract people and business to the city and will appear in various RedPoint publications as well as through online media extensions.

And RedPoint’s just getting started, according to Gary Davies, the company's executive vice-president (and former AMPA Prez). He says the goal is to build the company into one of Canada's largest content creation companies by doubling the company's size over the next five years.

Given RedPoint’s growth to date, (it’s made PROFIT’s fastest growing companies list twice), I won’t be surprised when this latest goal is met, too.

--- Colleen Seto
AMPA Blogger-in-Residence

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

All I Want for Christmas is an E-Reader...Or Do I?

With Christmas a month away, the push is already on to make people feel inadequately prepared. (Or maybe it's just me?) Every second commercial is hyping endless gift ideas including the latest e-readers. Of course, the iPad is expected to continue to sell well, but for many the price tag is just a bit too hefty.

Many are opting instead for the new Kindle Fire, priced at $199USD through Amazon--$300 less than the cheapest iPad. According to Audience Development, the device will house over 400 full-color publications through its newsstand, including those from the likes of big guns Bonnier, Meredith, Hearst and Conde Nast.

Not to be outdone, Barnes & Noble announced the NOOK Tablet with storage room of 16 G, video capability and battery life of 11 hours. The NOOK Tablet is priced at $249USD and has been said to have superior software to the Fire. For a comparison of the two tablets, check out news from the Online Publishing Association.  

I think I'll stick to the tried-and-true. Paper, anyone?
-- Colleen Seto
AMPA Blogger-in-Residence

Monday, November 21, 2011

Connecting Local Talent with Local Magazines

The Alberta Magazine Publishers Association is thrilled to officially launch the AMPA Contributors Directory, an initiative to connect local talent with local publications! 

Publishers, Editors, Creative Directors: Look No Further 
Need that special photographer for an upcoming fashion shoot? A writer who can deliver an environmental story from Fort McMurray? A designer to help with a custom publication?'

Search the Alberta Magazine Publishers Association's comprehensive database of magazine creatives available for freelance and contract work for your publication or media organization. Contributors in various creative disciplines from Alberta and beyond have listed their credits and credentials on our site — your one stop means of finding the right person for your next big feature or publishing needs.

Contributors, Freelancers, Contractors: Sign Up Now
If you’re a writer, editor, photographer, illustrator, fact checker, web designer or graphic designer available for hire, sign up to our contributors database now. Publishers, editors and creative directors are always on the lookout for talented magazine creatives and this is where you can be found.

Create your own user-maintained listing, featuring key phrase search, extended profile description, website listing, secure email contact, and uploadable samples. Annual subscriptions are currently free so sign up now.

Learn more about the AMPA Contributors Directory, and browse the database of over eighty (and growing!) profiles featuring Alberta's talented contributors, at

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Alberta Writing and Magazine Contests Galore!

I confess I'm going to shamelessly self-promote for a moment. I'm running a contest on my personal blog where all you have to do is tell me your favourite travel experience or destination. Just share in my comments and you could win a free night at any Delta Hotel or Resort across the country. Easy peasy, right?

That got me thinking about other contests. From Alberta magazines, there are a good number of prizes to be won, not to mention the chance to be published. Here's a rundown for you to go enter today!
  • Win tickets and CORE gift cards through Avenue Calgary for the 'T'was the Night shopping event at the CORE. Contest closes Nov. 24, 2011.
  • FreeFall literary magazine is accepting submissions for its Annual Prose and Poetry Contest with special guest judge/editor Stephanie Bolster. Contest closes December 31, 2011.
  • Alberta Views is looking for a surprising view of Alberta. Submit a photo for a chance to win $1,000 and be published in Alberta Views in 2012. Contest closes December 31, 2011.
  • Wine Access wants to send you to the Cayman Islands. Contest closes December 31, 2011.
  • City Palate wants to know where you read your City Palate. Send in a photo of you reading the mag to win one of three fabulous weekend resort packages. Contest closes February 1, 2012.
  • Tell Birthing magazine what your family's most effective preventative/natural health tip is and you could win a free naturopathic consultation. 
Several ongoing contests run are always happening too. Check out:
  • up! magazine's three monthly travel contests to win great gear like WestJet travel vouchers;
  • Calgary’s Child Magazine offers a variety of family-friendly contests and giveaways--all the time;  
  • Canadian Scrapbooker offers several contests including a Win on Wednesdays contest every week on Facebook;
  • Western Living holds a contest every issue for a Western Canadian getaway.
  • Lethbridge living offers a free Family Pass to the Galt Museum and Archives in every issue.
Happy contesting!
-- Colleen Seto
AMPA Blogger-in-Residence

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Gold in the Stills: Mining Print Content for Digital Traffic and Profit

The Alberta Magazine Publishers Association presents “Gold in the Stills: Mining Print Content for Digital Traffic and Profit” featuring Joy Gugeler: 

Calgary Seminar
Date & Time: Monday, November 28, 10:30am – noon
Location: Memorial Park Library, Calgary
Cost: AMPA members & students $12; non-members $22

Province-wide Webinar
Date & Time: Monday, November 28, 2:30pm – 4:00pm MST
Cost: AMPA members & students $22; non-members $32
Online registration for the province-wide afternoon webinar 

Are you ready to get new traffic from old content by expanding your web presence, showcasing your full archive for increased views, money and brand recognition? Digital publishing expert Joy Gugeler will offer a snapshot of the options before you upload your digital content.

“Gold in the Stills: Mining Print Content for Digital Traffic and Profit” is designed for magazine staff needing a framework for approaching a site upgrade. It is intended to help you take full advantage of content you may be overlooking (ie: a return on sunk editorial investments) and offset overhead costs with online ads/subscriptions.

This presentation will run through relevant issues in a typical digital audit by assessing:
  • editorial goals for the upload – brand, ad money, readers, subscriptions
  • rights, volume, length, breadth, and quality of existing/archive content
  • content tabs or sections for comprehensiveness and logic
  • the value of adding new media or formats: video, photo, audio
  • user-generated content/interactivity – comments, polls, ratings, forum posts
  • social media integration – Facebook, Twitter, Tumbler, YouTube
  • editorial workflow to parallel print editions or stagger costs
  • free/off-the-shelf vs. customized upgrades and resources 
Joy Gugeler is the former editor-in-chief of, and; she’s also an editorial board member of Quarry, ARC and Room magazines. She teaches publishing and digital media at VIU, Ryerson and SFU and operates Chameleon Consulting.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

George Webber Photography Book Launch

One of our favourite Alberta magazine contributors, award-winning photographer George Webber has put together yet another fabulous book. 

The book, In This Place: Calgary 2004 - 2011, presents George's personal take on his hometown. He has captured tiny moments and exquisite details of everyday life in the city as it surged past one million inhabitants. George's pictures are all about the importance of finding beauty, meaning and mystery right where you live. Acclaimed author and fellow magazine contributor Aritha van Herk provides the accompanying essays in the book.

Join George at The Camera Store classroom on November 25, located at #210, 3060 9th St. SE, Calgary, for a book signing from 6 to 9pm and a presentation at 7pm.

Congrats, George!
-- Colleen Seto
AMPA Blogger in Residence

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Alberta Best on Page Celebrated the Power of Magazines

We laughed, we cried, we oohed, we awed. Okay, a bit of an exaggeration, but this past month we truly were inspired by the creativity on display at the Alberta Best on Page traveling exhibition.

The show (held in Lethbridge, Calgary and Edmonton) featured Magazines Canada's annual Best on Page display of national and international award-winning print ads; we also couldn't help but boast our local talent with a showcase of our province's editorial and design successes from this past year's Alberta Magazine Awards.

Former AMPA Executive Director Andrew Mah described the power of the Best on Page imagery: "These ads pop. They sing. They persuade, compel, evoke. They demonstrate the continued power of print: of the striking marriage among words, pictures and design." And this is just the advertising side of magazines. The flip side of our industry is editorial "covers that hook, photos and illustrations that impress and feature stories that draw you in." This is the local talent, represented by our member magazine publishers, that we celebrate each year at the Alberta Magazine Awards.

So enough describing from me, time to see for yourselves with this photo-glimpse of the fun that we had at our Lethbridge, Calgary and Edmonton exhibition receptions (you can see more photos in our Flickr album).

October 1, Lethbridge:

October 5, Calgary (photographs courtesy Don Molyneaux)

October 12, Edmonton (photographs courtesy Kyla Feschuk): 

 -- Rebecca Lesser
AMPA Communications & Programs Coordinator

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Updated Ad Sales Video Tool for Magazines

Magazines Canada has updated its Magazines Connect video, which takes key industry research and knowledge, and translates it into quick hits of information.

In two minutes, it lays the groundwork for a magazine ad sales pitch by delivering points about magazine engagement, content, demographics, purchase intent, and the growing relationship with online and digital. And the music and graphics are pretty snazzy too.  

Check out the video on YouTube and share your thoughts. Would it be helpful for your client presentations? For approaching new clients? Re-introducing magazines to old clients? We'd love to know if this sort of resource is useful so let us know!

-- Colleen Seto
AMPA Blogger-in-Residence

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

5 Ways to Increase Site Traffic: Lessons from the Niche Digital Conference, Part 1

[Travel bursaries for voting magazine members are just one of the many benefit programs that we provide at the Alberta Magazine Publishers Association. We've asked bursary recipients to share their professional development travel experiences]

Lessons from the Niche Digital Conference (Part 1)
This past September, I was lucky enough to attend the Niche Digital Conference in Chicago, thanks to support from my employer, Venture Publishing, and AMPA. The Niche Digital Conference is devoted to teaching online revenue strategies to niche publications and their online extensions.  

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be giving you some of the best tips and tricks that I learned at the conference. Some of it will be old news to the web gurus among us, but hopefully I’ll pass on something useful for everyone. 

I’ll start off with the following five strategies to increase site traffic:
1. Spread out your content! Don’t publish all of your magazine’s content online at the beginning of the month. Use the date stamping tools of your content management system to load your content all at once, but publish it piece by piece over a period of time.  Encourage people to come back to your site multiple times and you’ll build a stronger audience and increase ad impressions.  

2. SEO, SEO, SEO - Stop investing money in Google ad words and start investing time in search engine optimization. The best argument I can make for this is from my own experience.  Thanks to some SEO changes we’ve made to our website, site traffic has increased more than 240% since January 2011. Not all of this increase is due to our SEO work, but search engine popularity has become a major traffic component. Read an SEO book, website, magazine, or hire a consultant to teach your staff how to do it correctly.      

3. Connect with Local Influencers - With an internet filled with free content, actually having a printed product not only makes magazine websites elite, it also gives us massive social cache that many skilled writers and niche experts value. Reach out to popular bloggers, experts, or influencers that have established audiences and see if they’d be interested in blogging on your site. Provided they align with your editorial mandate and quality control, this can be a very quick way of increasing your site’s online audience. By giving them a legitimate platform to write from, you’ll gain their audience and their support.  

4. Create a social media interaction plan - Come up with a clear goal for your social media usage and assign a member of your team to monitor and reply to social media comments each day. Use programs like Hootsuite and TweetDeck to schedule multiple posts a day (aim for 5-10 throughout the day, depending on your market and ability) and make sure to tag your story subject’s social media accounts to ensure lots of reposts and retweets.    

5. Don’t Just Post Your Own Stuff – The best thing about the internet is how interconnected it is, so why are you treating your magazine website like a walled garden? Don’t be afraid to post links to other websites. Become a web content curator in addition to a producer and you’ll see your page rank and traffic rise. The more links out you give, the more links back you’ll get, and Google rewards sites that boast numerous connections to others. 

My next post will be devoted to banner ads, media kits, and the sales side of digital revenue generation. Be sure to check back then! 
--- Andrew Williams
Assistant Publisher, Venture Publishing

Andrew Williams is the Assistant Publisher at Venture Publishing. When he’s not working on Alberta Venture, Alberta Oil, or, he mostly spends his time coming up with bad magazine headline puns. Follow him on twitter @Andrew_NVS for the aforementioned magazine puns.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Apple Releases iCloud and Newsstand Feature

With the unexpected and sad passing of Steve Jobs, Apple's original genius, there's been a lot of speculation about what will happen next and how Apple will continue. It's clear that Jobs was no dummy so my guess is he had many plans in place for the company to carry on without him. As Apple CEO Tim Cook said in an email to Apple employees: "Steve leaves behind a company that only he could have built, and his spirit will forever be the foundation of Apple." The Apple machine will, no doubt, chug on.

Which brings us to the launch of the iCloud. Operating on the same principles as other cloud computing services, iCloud will be a free download for Apple users, which automatically stores user content to the cloud; enabling users to access content across any iOS platform.

The iCloud coincides with the release of the iOS 5 mobile operating system, which includes Newsstand, a virtual bookshelf that displays users’ subscriptions with the latest issues of magazine titles. Each of your chosen titles are updated automatically so you always have the latest issue and the most recent cover art of your favourite mags.

Newsstand will work in tandem with Apple's subscription model, announced back in March, which allows publishers to sell subscriptions through the App Store for a 30 percent cut of each sub purchased. (Apple keeps the user data automatically unless users choose to share with publishers.) Conde Nast and Hearst are among the publishers that have signed on to sell subscriptions through the App Store.  

According to a press release from Apple, "with iOS 5 and iCloud, you just enter your Apple ID and password and iCloud will seamlessly integrate with your apps to automatically and wirelessly keep all of your mail, contacts, calendars, photos, apps, books, music and more, up-to-date across all your devices without ever having to connect to a computer."

For those still dubious about Apple's future, consider that only five days after Jobs' passing, pre-orders of the iPhone® 4S topped one million in 24 hours, surpassing the previous single day pre-order record of 600,000 held by iPhone 4. If that's not an ode to Jobs, I don't know what is. 

--- Colleen Seto
AMPA Blogger-in-Residence

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Fall Water-Cooler AMPA Update

Fall is officially upon us now so I thought it was time for another update on what's happening with some Alberta mags folks. As I'm not always privy to everybody's news, I invite you to please share with me what's happening in your world. And it doesn't have to be magazine news; let's face it, we're into the personal stuff too!
  • As we all know, big changes at AMPA. A fond farewell is in order for Andrew Mah (or Mahster, as I like to call him) as he embarks on new adventures to teach in China. Thank you Andrew for the amazing work you pulled off in this last year. I know all too well that the first year comes with a wicked steep learning curve and you handled it like a pro.
  • A big welcome to Suzanne Trudel as the new AMPA ED. As a fellow board member for the Amber Webb-Bowerman Memorial Foundation, I know Suz to be dedicated and hardworking, not to mention a lovely person. I'm sure she will do a great job carrying on AMPA's good works. If you haven't already, please take a moment to say hello and make her feel at home.
  • Former AMPA Communications Specialist Anh Chu has just moved across the pond, making London, England, her new home, just to shake things up! Watch for news about Anh's next career actress? A gourmet chef? A Spice Girl?

  • Congrats to Melanie Jones, Alberta mags contributor and former Where Calgary editor, on her success with her show ENDURE, which she created, produced and performs. She recently came home to Calgary and completed a sold-out run and now she's back in New York performing this immersive, theatre-meets-athletics show twice a day every weekend this month. You go, girl!
  • Margaret Chandler, former AMPA conference coordinator, is now at Bow Valley College as Special Advisor to the President. She's actually been at the job for a year now, but I forgot to blog about it when she started. (I blame baby brain.) She continues her green initiatives chairing the ECOBVC, the college's sustainability committee. 

  • In June, Alberta Venture welcomed two new columnists, Preston Manning and Brett Wilson. Talk about bringing on the big guns!

  • got a facelift this summer with a new design as well as a version for mobile apps.

  • And finally, some cheesy personal gushing. It's my baby's first birthday today! Happy birthday Annabel!                                                      
                                                                                                   ---Colleen Seto
AMPA Blogger-in-Residence