Friday, September 23, 2011

AMPA AGM 2011: Fond Farewells, New Beginnings

I’ve been to more than a few AMPA AGM's over the years—back when I was an intern, later as magazine editor, and then as AMPA’s incoming executive director last year. They’ve always had a great atmosphere, due in part to our watering-hole of choice, the woodsy and warm Rose & Crown tavern.

My Favourite People
The spirits did flow, but I also attribute the atmosphere to some of my favourite people: magazine people. I’m clearly biased, but those who work for magazines are, with remarkable consistency, friendly, creative, savvy and good hearted. It may have something to do with the need to blend entrepreneurial rigor with creative vision. There’s probably also a weaning-out process: who but the passionate yet pragmatic would persist in an industry fraught with low margins, long hours and tight deadlines?

Whatever the reasons, I’ve always felt at home with this group: the publishers, editors, art directors, writers, sales staff, interns, etc, of the Alberta magazine publishing industry. Which is why it is with sadness that I announced my departure from AMPA at the AGM.

Exit Stage Left
I won’t bore you with personal ephemera. I’ll simply point out that I was torn to stay, would have enjoyed it, but some big life goals will be taking me overseas.

It’s been a time for farewells. A few months ago, stalwart AMPA ED-on-leave Colleen Seto decided not to return from maternity leave, choosing the joys of motherhood and freelancing instead. Not enough can be said about how much Colleen has done for AMPA during her five years. Immense credit goes to her for building a stable, secure organization and helping to create this great community.

The next farewell was a bit of an AGM shocker, with Agnes Zalewski revealing her departure from June Warrren-Nickle's Energy Group, and hence as AMPA President. I can say that it was a pleasure working with such an enthusiastic board, and with Agnes's drive and clarity in particular.

Continual Rebirth
Of course, departure creates opportunity. Jenn Schmidt-Rempel of Lethbridge living stepped up to the presidency of AMPA. She definitely has the energy and entrepreneurial vision to take the association forward. My own successor was also introduced: Suzanne Trudel. Trudel comes well recommended as the former Publications Manager at SAIT, and I’m confident you’ll be in good hands with her.

We also introduced a keen, new member of the AMPA staff: admin and special projects assistant Rowena Cua. You’ll be seeing her at more meetings moving forward.

There were old and new faces elected to the Board of AMPA. Indeed, rampant enthusiasm to join—there were 7 people on the election slate and only 6 open positions—almost led to what would have been a first in my memory, a bona fide gun-slinging election with ballots. However, Agnes’ high-noon departure opened up a 7th position and we were able to continue the AMPA tradition of saving time for beer and noshing by acclaiming the entire slate with a show of hands.

The Board
So this year’s board will include:

Jenn Schmidt-Rempel, Lethbridge living
Lynn Fraser, Freefall
Brian French, Where Calgary

Tracy Hyatt, Westworld
Merla Thomson, Canine Review

[newly elected]
Joyce Byrne, Alberta Venture
K├Ąthe Lemon, Avenue Calgary
Chaz Osburn, Alberta Construction Magazine
Steven Sandor, Avenue Edmonton
Rob Tanner, Canadian Cowboy Country

What Else?
Suffice it to say, membership is up, AMPA is in good financial shape and we’re working hard to provide the programs and services our members seek.

Beyond that, I’ll simply say thanks and farewell. AMPA is in good hands with Suzanne and a robust board of directors. Plus, Rebecca Lesser, who you all know, will keep the home fires burning—I’d like to thank her especially—for her dedication, insights and willingness to shoulder thankless burdens. Take care, everyone.
--- Andrew Mah
AMPA Executive Director

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Twitter Analytics Coming Soon

It seems almost everyone and their dog has a Twitter account these days. I'm not much of a Tweep myself, given that I've forgotten my Twitter password since the day I opened an account eons ago, but friends of mine swear by it as a way to stay informed and connected as well as to promote themselves.

Twitter for business promotion
AMPA itself has successfully tweeted to raise awareness about a number of events and news bites. But while many folks use Twitter for more than finding out what the Kardashians are doing, it's a bit surprising to me that so many businesses have jumped on board when you don't really know if your tweets generate much if any interest back to your website, or your bottom line.

Measuring that Twitter traffic
All that's about to change. According to Audience Development, Twitter is launching an analytics tool so that developers can understand how content is being shared across Twitter; measure the traffic Twitter is sending to a site; and measure the effectiveness of the Tweet button integration. The tool is currently only available to select partners in a pilot program, but will be made available to everyone in coming weeks.

Then we'll get to see whether all this twittering is really worth all the fuss.

--- Colleen Seto
AMPA Blogger-in-Residence

Monday, September 12, 2011

10 Years for Fine Arts Magazine Galleries West

Fine arts magazine reaches milestone
Galleries West, the magazine that "strives to heighten awareness of the visual arts scene in Western Canada," hits its 10-year milestone with its latest issue. Publisher Tom Tait launched the indie mag a decade ago because he felt the need for a fine arts publication featuring the works, artists and galleries of Western Canada. He also had a passion and the know-how to make it happen. 

Publisher Tom Tait knows the magazine biz
The former publisher of Where Calgary magazine (which is now owned by big-gun St. Joseph's media), Tom is no stranger to magazine publishing. He's been in the biz for 30-some years, and he understands what it takes to succeed, particularly in the Alberta market. (For a detailed account of Tom's career, have a read of David Parker's column in the Herald.)

He's one of the few people who really gets how the magazine market works here, and he has not only successfully created a magazine, but a stellar custom distribution system for it. I still remember watching with amazement as Tom once flummoxed a couple of Canadian Heritage officials who could not counter his argument that a controlled circulation model is by no means inferior to a paid model. (Too bad his argument didn't take hold as controlled circ mags still do not qualify for funding through the Canadian Periodical Fund.)

The magazine is an art form in and of itself
Galleries West continues to be a fantastic advocate for the arts, and its design and presentation are an art form in and of itself. I always looked forward to seeing the newest issue arrive to the AMPA office because it was so well laid out. Kudos to art director Wendy Pease for her great work.

To this day, one of my favourite spreads is still the feature on Brian Jungen about his Prototypes for New Understanding series where the Vancouver-based artist used pieces from Nike Air Jordan sneakers to create semblances of West Coast Aboriginal masks, whales, falcons, and more. The artwork was genius, but so too was design of the story. If I remember correctly, it won a Showcase Award that year, and we had the entry hanging in our offices for years. I just loved it.

And I love that Galleries West continues to thrive. Congrats Tom; 10 years is a big deal, even if you won't toot your own horn. So I will. Rock on. You are a star.

---Colleen Seto
AMPA Blogger-in-Residence

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Fly Fusion and Wine Access Finalists in Canadian Newsstand Awards

Just a quick note of congrats to AMPA members Fly Fusion and Wine Access, which have been named finalists in the 10th annual Canadian Newsstand Awards.

The awards are judged on both quantitative criteria (such as newsstand sell-through percentage) and qualitative (cover design, cover lines etc.).

Winners will be announced Sept. 26 at a reception in Toronto. Good luck!

-- Colleen Seto, AMPA Blogger-in-Residence