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Fact Checking 101 by Conan Tobias

By Conan Tobias, Editor-in-Chief, Taddle Creek

Introduction: The State of Fact Checking

There are two types of fact checking: the kind that happens as a step in the editorial process before a piece is released to the public, and the kind that happens post-release, when published stories or videos, social media posts or a public figure’s comments are in question. This Hotsheet focuses on checking stories before they’re published, but given how prominent “fake news” has become in recent years, it’s important for every journalist to be aware of and keep up on the battle against misinformation. For example, the New York Times, Mother Jones, and BuzzFeed are a few of the publications that recently launched “misinformation projects” to identify false online content, in some cases reaching out for help from readers. Fact checker Brooke Borel’s FiveThirtyEight article “Fact-Checking Won’t Save Us From Fake News” is an excellent primer and opinion piece on the topic.

Up until early this century, many young journalists got their start in Canadian magazines by working as a fact checker. Those jobs are nearly non-existent today given the industry’s fading fortunes in recent years. For that reason, it’s more important than ever for everyone involved in the editorial process to have an understanding of how fact checking works. Traditionally, fact checking your own writing has been frowned upon. But better to check your own work than to have it not checked at all. If you’re an editor, you probably won’t opt to or have time to thoroughly check every story that crosses your desk, but knowing what to watch for and where the most common mistakes are made might help you catch an important fact that saves you from embarrassment—or lawsuit.

What is fact checking?

A fact is anything that is known to be true: the colour of a house, the balance of a bank account, a historical date, and so on. Therefore, fact checking is the act of confirming the accuracy of a presented fact. The practice of fact checking in the print media generally is associated with North American consumer magazines, and usually said to have begun at Time, in the 1920s, under Henry Luce and Briton Hadden. (The New Yorker, under founder Harold Ross, also is frequently given credit for helping to popularize fact checking.)

Why do we fact-check?

Fact checking is both a point of pride and a way to avoid being sued. If you’re reporting real-life events, it’s your duty to ensure the information that you’re presenting to your readers is accurate. Relaying false information does a disservice to the reader who paid to read your story, and to the sources who trusted you to tell it accurately. Plus, mistakes tarnish the reputation of both writer and publication. At the same time, while getting someone’s height wrong by an inch or two probably won’t be noticed by too many people, getting more serious facts incorrect—facts that may end up libeling a source—can land a publication in court and potentially put it out of business.

Who fact checks?

Ideally fact checking is undertaken by a trained professional: someone with one or more university degrees, a few languages at their disposal, and wide-ranging world knowledge. That ideal, sadly, is not often achievable on the budget of most magazines in the 21st century. Today, checking often is undertaken (if at all) by junior staffers, interns, or freelancers, but the basics still stand: in theory, a fact checker should be a blank slate (checkers never assume to know facts, they check them). But in reality, a checker needs to be knowledgeable, worldly, curious, sharp and attentive, with an eye for detail. The more knowledge a checker has, the better they’ll be at their job.

How to fact check

Checking usually takes place once a story has been edited, but before the copy editing process begins. Before beginning the checking process, a checker should discuss their approach with the editor, in the event there are any touchy sources or other potential pitfalls involved. A checker should start by reading the story to be checked two or three times, highlighting every fact. Authors should provide checkers with all of their source material: notes, documents, interview recordings, photos and source contact information, though a checker may still end up having to do some digging on their own.

Each fact should be checked with a primary source. A primary source is the most authoritative source for a given fact: asking a source their age is consulting a primary source; checking that fact with the source’s friend is consulting a secondary source. Checking a company’s financials via its annual report is consulting a primary source; checking those same numbers via a newspaper article is consulting (at best) a secondary source.

Once checking is complete, any potential changes should be discussed with the writer and editor. (If necessary, a legal team may be brought in to vet the piece for libel or other issues.) Just like every story is different, every checking process is different. There is no definitive norm.

What to check

Ideally, check everything. But if you’re short on time and resources, be especially sure to check proper names, numbers and consistency of story. Quotations from a source should be checked for the facts they contain, but never read quotes back to a source directly—they may regret something they said and try to take it back. Remember that letters to the editor, opinion pieces, reviews and fiction contain checkable facts too.

Finally, don’t stop at the story itself: check headlines, decks, bylines, author bios and captions. Even photos and illustrations need to be checked to ensure that they accurately portray their story.


This Hotsheet scratches the surface of how to fact check. For a more complete view, have a look at the following sources:
The Fact Checker’s Bible, by Sarah Harrison Smith (Anchor)
The Chicago Guide to Fact Checking, by Brooke Borel (University of Chicago Press)

Resources on Verifying Other Media
Cutting Through the Noise: Digital Accuracy” by Craig Silverman (Magazines Canada Hotsheet)
The Poynter Institute’s International Fact-Checking Network.

Magazines Canada Hotsheets deliver current information on a single topic, each written by an expert in the field. Return to Magazines Canada Hotsheets.

Canada Council for the Arts / Conseil des arts du Canada Department of Canadian Heritage  Ontario Arts Council / Conseil des arts de l'Ontario Ontario Creates / Ontario Créatif


Getting Started on the Right Foot with Advertisers by Trevor Battye

By Trevor Battye, Partner, Clevers Media

Getting started with advertisers is often more about asking the right questions than it is about presenting the information. Once you have the answers from advertisers you will be better able to present the information about your publication that is most relevant to those advertisers.

New Relationships

Leads from advertising can come from anywhere. You can see an ad on a billboard or in a competitor publication. You can see something on TV, or see a business that might be a good fit as you walk down the street.

Member-Based Organizations

An important question to ask is what are the major member-based associations in your magazine vertical? Could you offer them a volume based advertising discount?

Some examples:

  • The Directors Guild of Canada
  • The Association of BC Book Publishers
  • Calgary Chamber of Commerce
  • Real Estate Board of Vancouver
  • Alliance for Arts and Culture
  • Canadian Association of Fringe Festivals

Could members pool resources and buy an ad together? Here’s an example. Note the cost of this full page ad is $525 divided by 12 publishers is $43.75 per title.

Sources for New Leads / Relationships

Your Board: Many publications have some form of board of directors. Whether an editorial board or a formal non-profit board, boards can often provide a great resource for new leads/introductions to new relationships. Remember these are people who have already expressed an interest in your organization.

Competitor Publications: You should keep a regular eye on competitors, both those who are in the same vertical as you, as well as those publications that provide similar editorial coverage. Don’t be worried if a competitor publication has a larger circulation, as there may be reasons an advertiser wants to advertise in both!

Suppliers to your organization: Many publications have never asked their suppliers if they would consider purchasing advertising or sponsoring the publication. If you can prove to your supplier that advertising in your publication could bring them additional business they are open to listening. This works particularly well with suppliers you have long-standing relationships with or if your publication is celebrating an anniversary. Once you’ve identified the organization you want to pitch, the next important step is to identify who you should be pitching.

Identifying the Right Contact in a Potential Advertiser

Start at the top of the organization you want to advertise, like the CEO or VP/Director of Marketing. There is a unique opportunity when approaching a new organization to start as high up in the company as possible. More often than not, this leads to the CEO or Director of Marketing passing word down that they would like to move forward to those who are in charge of execution.

Gauge familiarity with your magazine brand—has the client/lead seen a copy of the publication and your e-newsletter? Advertising sales is about selling a physical product. People need to see the magazine before they buy it. This is as important in print as it is on the web.

Communication Schedule and Preferences

When starting a new relationship you want to clearly establish what the advertiser’s preferred communication style is. Do they prefer email, phone, text, Facebook Messenger, LinkedIn Message? What is the preferred style of the industry that advertiser operates in? For example, construction does a significant amount of communication, whereas other industries do not.

Equally if not more so, it’s important to create a schedule with advertisers. While this may begin with an email or mailed media kit, you need to determine the best way to follow up.

Once you identify the advertisers that you are ready to pitch, you need a good pitch letter to get them interested in your publication. This, combined with making sure they see a copy of the publication, is important to get any new relationship off on the right foot.

Elements of a good pitch letter—Here’s an example

  1. Specifics related to that particular advertiser and vertical
  2. Other advertisers from the same vertical who advertise with the publication
  3. Relevant reader survey data / editorial info
  4. A schedule of when you will follow up

What are the key marketing periods for the advertiser?

For some that’s fairly obvious as many businesses have a key season (i.e. Fall Books) or Holiday Giving. But for others it’s less so. Have you ever celebrated Fluevog Day?

What are their existing key marketing tools? Enews? Product catalogue? Samples? Social media posts? How can you deliver these to your audience of readers?

Who is their product for? Your publication probably has a fairly wide audience or perhaps a number of segments. Which one is of the most benefit to the advertiser, despite being focused on your magazine’s editorial themes?

What value can the advertiser provide to your reader? Sometimes it’s sampling a new product or new content. What can your publication do for the advertiser that they can’t do for themselves? Consider that as a publication brand your strength is bringing people together around your editorial environment and you can deliver that in ways that a brand cannot, as you deliver the audience and the editorial arena for the advertiser to join. Consider if you are already doing or could provide the following: Events? Podcasts? Sponsored social media?

NOTE: All of the above require significant resources including time to develop, so before building any of the above you should check with your existing and potential advertisers to gauge their interest before launching.

How to Handle Common Objections

Ask why not?
This will often give you additional information about what might be a better fit for the advertiser. Here’s a sample of how to ask why the advertiser is not advertising by email. Depending on the relationship, sometimes the best way to ask why an advertiser is passing is to do this by phone as quite often people don’t want to put the reason in writing.

“No budget”
When do they plan their budget? How much do they typically spend on ads? Where do they spend most of their budget?

“Not the right time”
What are their key marketing times? What is the most important time of year for their brand / organization?

“Not sure it’s going to be a fit for your magazine’s audience”
This is a common objection particularly when starting a new relationship. Consider a contest and use the results to prove your audience’s interest in the product/service/advertiser brand.

How to Improve Existing Relationships

Advertiser Surveys: Create an opportunity to listen to advertisers. Too often in the media business we find ourselves pitching. The key to a relationship is to listen, and the best way to listen is to ask specific questions about how the client is interacting with your advertising. Note these questions should be questions that you are able to act on. Here’s a sample of an advertiser survey. Note that unlike a reader survey you don’t need to offer a prize, as you are trying to make the advertising experience better for advertisers.

Keys to Success

  1. Ask about things you can deliver on.
  2. Follow up—Likely two emails and a phone call to get an answer.
  3. You can’t please everybody! Look for commonalities.
  4. Share the results with your advertisers! They spoke, you listened: now here’s what is coming!

If you have any further questions, feel free to contact Trevor Battye at or 647.376.8090 (Toronto) and 778.773.9397 (Vancouver).

Magazines Canada Hotsheets deliver current information on a single topic, each written by an expert in the field. Return to Magazines Canada Hotsheets.

Canada Council for the Arts / Conseil des arts du Canada Department of Canadian Heritage  Ontario Arts Council / Conseil des arts de l'Ontario Ontario Creates / Ontario Créatif


Diversifying your Contributors in Seven Steps by Chelene Knight

By Chelene Knight, Managing Editor/Executive Director of Room magazine, and Festival Director of the Growing Room Literary Festival

Photograph of Chelene Knight
Chelene Knight

When thinking about diversifying your contributors, you must first think about what this means to you and your team. What does diversifying really mean? It should go above and beyond race and gender, and consider all the various intersections and the ways in which they meld into one another. Wherever possible have an in-person meeting with your team and make sure that “diversifying our contributors” is the one and only topic. You should recognize that there is no end result, but instead a system of established accountability practices put in place to consistently reevaluate the magazine’s efforts while still adhering to your mandate, mission, values, and long-term goals. Ask yourself questions about what diversifying really means. These questions can include: Who are we not reaching, and why? How can we let folks know that we want their voices included? How do we include as many voices as possible, but in a respectful way?

Most often, folks submit to magazines, purchase issues and attend events by word of mouth, or because they have a longstanding history/relationship with the magazine and its values. Find a magazine that mirrors and reflects what you hope to be doing and reach out to them and ask about their procedures. Make friends and have conversations. We shouldn’t ever be operating in a silo.

Step One: Define what your inclusion goals are

Start by embracing the Three T’s: Transparency, Trust, Truth—your bridge to success.

  • Truth
    Being open and honest about your magazine’s intentions, as well as being forthcoming about mistakes you’ve made along the way, will lead into building trust with your current readers. Be honest about who is missing from your pages. Share (perhaps in a weekly newsletter) that you WANT To include these folks, but need a little help.
  • Trust
    Trust is earned when a magazine delivers on their promises and trust is solidified by creating quick and concise solutions if things do not go as planned. Did you miss mailing an issue? Did you spell a contributor’s name wrong? Do you reply to all emails? It’s all in the details. Replying to emails sent from the very folks you hope to reach out to is imperative. Listen to their rants and raves and in your reply, ask them what their ideas are. Take their ideas and present them to your team.
  • Transparency
    No one should expect everything to happen overnight. And because of this, it’s super important to make sure you communicate your journey with your writers, subscribers, supporters and followers. Are you working on creating an accessible space, but hitting a lot of road blocks along the way? Let people know! The journey is just as important as the destination.

Step Two: Identify the barriers and then remove them

Barriers are obstacles that stand in the way of not only certain people submitting to your magazine, but they can also stand in the way of even accessing it. The only real way to find out what these barriers are is to ask. Send out reader surveys, weekly newsletters (and in these newsletters ask your current subscribers to forward it to someone who may not know your magazine exists).

Step Three: Take a look in the mirror: Does your staff and governing body reflect who you are trying to reach? If not, rectify this

The majority of folks submitting to magazines will look to that masthead to check the diversity of who is on the editorial and governing boards:

  • people of colour
  • folks with varying education levels
  • women, non-binary, trans folks
  • Indigenous folks
  • Folks with various abilities and disabilities

The list goes on and on. What’s that old saying? Be the change you hope to make. Reflect it every day. Although the above is not an exhaustive list, I know that as a writer and as an editor that these are things that are very important to me.

Step Four: Community engagement

Hosting your own events is a fantastic way to attract attention and build a larger audience for your magazine, but attending other events aside from your own, meeting people, networking and supporting other local organizations is a fantastic way to build and strengthen community.

Step Five: Relationship building

It’s one thing to establish strong relationships with the community, but also consider doing the same with organizations outside of publishing. Speak with local shop owners, cafes, restaurants and the like to establish the “three T’s” and check in to see if your goals align with theirs. Do they want to increase food sales? Ask about hosting an event there, or collaborate in another way (discounts can go both ways).

Step Six: Action items you can implement now

  • Transparency via weekly newsletters.
  • Form an equity and inclusion committee and make that committee the core of every decision your organization makes.
  • Perform annual language audits on your website, and other materials to make sure your language is inclusive.

Step Seven: Accountability and constant re-evaluation

Again, diversifying isn’t a matter of checking boxes. The work you do to make your organization as inclusive as possible, inside and out, should become daily practice, a part of your mandate. Check in with yourselves frequently to make sure you are on the right track and to look for ways to continually do better. A great way to make sure that this never falls off your to-do list is to write it into your daily operations. Ask yourself if every decision you make is as inclusive as possible. If the answer is no, go back and try again. This is work. Magazines Canada

Magazines Canada Hotsheets deliver current information on a single topic, each written by an expert in the field. Return to Magazines Canada Hotsheets.

Feature photo: The Jopwell Collection

Canada Council for the Arts / Conseil des arts du Canada Department of Canadian Heritage  Ontario Arts Council / Conseil des arts de l'Ontario Ontario Creates / Ontario Créatif


5 Steps to Launching a Podcast by Matthew Blackett

By Matthew Blackett, Publisher, Spacing

Podcasts have become a vital component in engaging with your magazine’s readers. Adding a podcast to your publication’s repertoire is no easy task; it should be approached in the same way that your staff would go through when developing a commemorative issue or special insert. Below are five steps for you to consider before uploading your first episode.


It’s important to identify all of the reasons why your magazine needs to launch a podcast. Here are some of the most common goals.

  • Increase awareness of the magazine: A podcast is the classic “brand extension” and opens you up to attracting new readers who may only have been exposed to your podcast;
  • Provides new avenue for you to share editorial and complement magazine content: As every writer has told one of your editors, “there was a lot of content that didn’t make it into the article.” Podcasts offer you the opportunity to expand on quotes and ideas presented in your articles and features.
  • Share info about your magazine and other business needs: Podcasts offer the opportunity to promote your own events, market special offers on magazine subscriptions, etc.
  • Monetize the podcast: Depending on the size of your audience, you can sell sponsorship or advertising on your podcast.*

* A cautionary note about advertising and sponsorship—very few, if any, magazines that launch a podcast will make significant revenue from ads or sponsorships. Unless you’re attracting tens of thousands of listeners to a podcast, the numbers just don’t add up. One solution is to add the sponsorship of a podcast as part of an ad sales package (i.e., “for $500 more an issue you can be the sole advertiser on our podcast” or “if you buy the outside back cover for the year, we’ll make you the only sponsor of our podcast for the year, too”).

Another solution to the ad/sponsor challenge is to make the podcast a value-added benefit for subscribing to the magazine. That means making the podcast exclusive only to your subscribers. Reducing the number of people you can reach by essentially putting the podcast behind a paywall may not make your ad sales reps happy, but it might be good news for your circulation department who are looking for any way to attract new readers and retain existing subscribers.


Your magazine has a unique voice; it might be serious and informed or it could be accessible and light. Whatever tone you try to project within the pages of your magazine should be reflected in your podcast.

Identifying the voice will allow you to envision the format and the type of guests you want to invite onto the show. By using a similar tone/voice from your magazine, your magazine readers will feel more at ease with your new product.


The format of your podcast will help give it a shape and flow. Much like your magazine, the podcast should be split into digestible sections. It’s absolutely fine to even mimic the format of your magazine: start with a few short bits (front of book), a main topic or theme (cover section), and finish it off with some short and light content (back of mag).

A successful format for a podcast is to theme the episode. From a bird’s eye view, this allows the podcast to feel like all of its components are related and intertwined. It allows your marketing and circulation teams to target groups of listeners and gives you the potential to attract new listeners that are interested in the theme.


Depending on your magazine’s frequency, you should work the podcast producer and the podcast’s production timeline into your production schedule. Below is a rough template for how/when to include your podcast team into the magazine’s workflow.

  • Editorial team discusses next issue articles, themes, etc.

Podcast producer attends meeting and participates in editorial decisions;
Potential to suggest which articles are podcast-friendly

  • Articles submitted, edited

Podcast producer reviews final articles, picks best fit for podcast;
Podcast producer approaches writer for contact info of experts quoted

  • Articles go into layout

Podcast goes into production: interviews recorded

  • Magazine goes to printer

Podcast enters post-production stage

  • Magazine distributed to store

Podcast uploaded, post made to website, promotion begins

  • Release party/related event

Podcast promoted at event


Your podcast should come with a lot of fanfare. You need to take every opportunity to promote it: in the magazine with ads, easy-to-find links and house ads on your website, posts in your social media channels, in your monthly newsletter, a mention from our editor in their opening column—draw attention to it with prizes and cross-promotions with advertisers. Include a blow-out card to subscribers. Take every opportunity to promote this free product you’re offering to readers. Magazines Canada

Magazines Canada Hotsheets deliver current information on a single topic, each written by an expert in the field. Return to Magazines Canada Hotsheets.

Canada Council for the Arts / Conseil des arts du Canada Department of Canadian Heritage  Ontario Arts Council / Conseil des arts de l'Ontario Ontario Creates / Ontario Créatif


Direct Mail Success by Alysa Procida

By Alysa Procida, Publisher, Inuit Art Quarterly and Executive Director, Inuit Art Foundation

Though digital marketing and outreach continue to attract publishers’ attention, direct marketing can still be a powerful marketing tool, especially for small, niche publishers. In 2017, the Inuit Art Quarterly undertook a highly targeted direct-mail campaign that wildly exceeded our expectations: the magazine’s subscriptions increased by 27% overall, thanks to some lists’ response rates as high as 26%. By comparison, past efforts had yielded a 2–3% maximum return. Here’s what we did differently:

1. We got expert assistance.

If at all possible, invest in quality guidance and support. Thanks to funding from the Ontario Arts Council and the Department of Canadian Heritage, we engaged Abacus Circulation to oversee the campaign and hired experienced contractors to help write, design and distribute our packages. This proved invaluable when creating an outreach strategy. Prior to this campaign, we reached out to lapsed subscribers with a no-pressure, no-offer update letter about our recent activities and initiatives. In doing so, we welcomed past readers back, with a look at what they had missed.

2. We got to know our audience.

Before conceptualizing the direct-mail campaign, we undertook an extensive reader survey to better understand our audience. In addition to basic demographic information, we prioritized asking about our readers’ magazine-reading habits, travel, interest in museums and other cultural activities and art collecting. Having a well-rounded picture of our readers helped to more precisely hone the messaging of campaign and target new potential readers.

3. We knew our niche and our value in it.

The Inuit Art Quarterly is the only magazine dedicated to Inuit and circumpolar Indigenous art worldwide. For thirty years, the IAQ has been the only consistent way for audiences to connect with Inuit artists. It is overseen by the Inuit Art Foundation’s majority-Inuit board of directors. The IAQ consequently has developed the reputation of being a community-driven, authentic and trusted source of exclusive information on Inuit art. Our direct-mail campaign messaging highlighted these reader perceptions.

However, we also know that Inuit art is much narrower in popular imagination than it is in reality. To pique potential reader interest, we knew we had to combat this idea so made sure to highlight the diversity of work covered in the magazine. Our tagline “Soapstone is just the start” provided an enticing and welcoming introduction to the broad scope of our content.

4. We targeted lists precisely.

Undoubtedly, the most important element of our campaign’s success was specifically targeting lists that best matched qualities we knew about our existing readers or had an affinity with our mandate. These came from other magazines, but also partnerships with museums and private art galleries with direct relationships with Indigenous art collectors. We also made an effort to target international audiences, which was a successful risk: our international lists had an average return rate of 6%, though several ranged between 23–26%.

5. We didn’t discount our history.

Although we undertake regular solicitation regarding renewals, our biggest jump came from historically lapsed subscribers. By reaching back as far as 2008, we were able to engage a number of past subscribers. This taught us not to assume why a subscriber might have left and not to discount their original interest. If you have a niche, chances are your readers are still interested even without an active subscription. Reaching out again is also an opportunity to learn what can be improved to increase retention rates and create deeper reader engagement.

6. We tracked results and learned everything we could.

To evaluate the success of the campaign, we tracked the results precisely in order to learn as much as possible about our new (or renewed) subscribers, and what elements of the campaign were especially successful. Two-year subscriptions outperformed one-year subscriptions significantly, which was our hope. That offer has come to be a benchmark for our other marketing efforts. Finally, working with an experienced team helped to build capacity and knowledge amongst our own staff. We have developed a more robust sense of our audience and their high level of enthusiasm, which we have in turn parlayed into strategic engagement, such as gift offers and donation solicitations, all tweaked to highlight and support the messaging we crafted with our direct marketing materials resulting in a significant jump in support that we look forward to stewarding for years to come. Magazines Canada

Magazines Canada Hotsheets deliver current information on a single topic, each written by an expert in the field. Return to Magazines Canada Hotsheets.

Canada Council for the Arts / Conseil des arts du Canada Department of Canadian Heritage Ontario Arts Council / Conseil des arts de l'Ontario Ontario Media Development Corporation (OMDC)


How to Create a Digital Strategy (That Actually Works for You) by David Topping

Photograph of David ToppingBy David Topping, Senior Manager, Product, St. Joseph Media

Too many print publications start where they should end when it comes to their digital strategy. The most important question to ask first isn’t how many articles a day to write or how to go about promoting them on social media. And it’s not whether you should launch email newsletters or apps or podcasts or Snapchat accounts. It’s why: why should you be doing any of that in the first place, and to what end? Here’s how to answer that question, and figure out everything that follows it.

1. Figure out what you care about

You probably already know what one thing matters most to your publication, it’s what has long informed your editorial strategy and it’s how you make money. Here’s what publications most often aim at, and why:

The more people, the merrier, whoever they are and whatever they do once you’ve gotten their attention. Big advertisers have long loved scale, which is a big part of why many publications focus on this target above all others.

Whereas publications devoted to scale try to get an audience’s attention, those devoted to engagement also focus on keeping it. More sophisticated online advertisers care about this, too: some use engagement as a stand-in for credibility when it comes to deciding who to create sponsored content with and a few even pay based on how much time their ads are seen for.

Your audience loves you, or needs you, or both. Either way, they’re loyal. If more of a publication’s revenue comes directly from their audience than their advertisers, it’s likely devotion that’s fuelling it.

2. Figure out what to measure

One of the best things about digital media is just how easy it is to collect data on how people use it. One of the worst things about digital media is just how easy it is to drown in that data. But when you know what you care about, it’s a lot easier to determine what to measure and what to ignore. You can’t care about everything, so coming up with a measurable metric that’s a good proxy for what you do care about is critical.

Here are just a few of your many options for what to focus on based on the aims outlined above. Pick a few, or just one, or find something else that works for you—but the smaller you are the fewer metrics you should choose. To measure them on websites, use an analytics tool like Google Analytics; to measure them on social networks and elsewhere, like newsletters and tablet editions, you’re usually best off relying on that service’s built-in tools.

If you care about scale, you can measure your success by means of website page views, a crude measurement that is increasingly falling out of fashion since it’s so easy to manipulate, but one that many publications are stuck with for now, since so many digital advertisers continue to use it for their campaigns. Sessions or users are better, more honest measurements of scale: sessions is the total number of visits to a website or other digital product during a given period, and users are the number of unique visitors. If you have newsletters, tablet editions or podcasts, you can measure their number of subscribers, and if you have an app, you can measure app installations. And if you’re on social media, you can measure by the number of followers you have on a given network, or by your reach there.

If you care about engagement, you care about users taking some sort of action with your content, which can include but isn’t limited to spending time with it.

When it comes to measuring how and to what extent people take action, you could focus on social media engagement on the platforms that suit your content best—the number of people who don’t just glance at a Facebook post or tweet but do something with it, such as share it, retweet it, or Like it. (What social networks suit your content best? The more visual it is, the more important it is you’re on Instagram; the more newsy it is, the more important it is that you’re on Twitter; the more people it’s intended for, the more important it is that you’re on Facebook.) Many website tools let you see the bounce rate of a particular piece of content, which is what percentage of visitors left without looking at any other content on your site, or page depth, which measures how many pieces of content users go through per visit. For newsletters, open rates will tell you how many people opened a given campaign, and, if the newsletter links out to other content, click rate will tell you what percentage of people who either received or opened the newsletter clicked on any one of those links. And for apps, the number of active users, sometimes called active devices, will tell you how many people are actually using the app after installing it.

For time, average session duration or average time on page or screen will give you a sense of how long the average user stays with you per website or tablet-edition visit (that’s average session duration) or per any given item of content (that’s average time on page or screen). More fully featured but expensive analytics tools like Chartbeat can provide the cumulative amount of time all readers spent with any one piece of content, though there’s a crude way to do this with data most services offer for free: take the average time spent per page and multiply it by the number of page views it has.

If you care about devotion, you could care about returning website visitors: those whose latest visit to your website wasn’t their first. The more returning visitors you have and content you publish, the more you can go even deeper, by focusing on seeing how many users returned, say, ten times over the course of a given month. If you encourage or force people to log in to view content on your website, measuring the number of active site members can tell you just how devoted those who signed up for an account are.

3. Figure out what to do

Now that you’ve decided what numbers you’ll be paying attention to, you can start putting in work you think will move those numbers—and stop putting in work you think won’t. You shouldn’t be doing anything digitally that you don’t believe is likely to affect your goals, and you shouldn’t be doing anything digitally that you can’t measure to determine to what extent it has.

What should you do, then? Here, again, the answer very much depends on what you care about and how you’re measuring it. Sometimes you will need to change the form of what you produce (its frequency, its medium, its shape and/or its distribution), and sometimes you will need to change its content (its focus, its intended audience and/or its voice); often, you will need to do both. You should start by experimenting with what you think is likeliest to work and what is easiest to do, look at the results, do more of what’s working and less of what isn’t, and then repeat. Over time, you’ll learn more, more quickly and save more and more time producing things that hit your goals faster and faster.

Here are some examples of the kinds of things you could experiment with:

If you care about scale and you’re measuring sessions or users, you could focus your energy on publishing more content than you currently do, or publishing content of interest to a greater audience. You could also make your work more legible to Google by giving pieces of content more straightforward titles, URLs and file names. If you’re measuring page views, the same strategy would work, but you can also cheat by publishing more multi-page articles and more slideshows or galleries (though you might bother your users, who’ll have every right to be annoyed). If you’re measuring newsletter or tablet edition subscribers and you have a website, you can create more places on the site where people can sign up for them, or point more prominently to the ones they can. It’s easier said than done to change the focus of an existing newsletter or tablet edition so that it’s of interest to a greater audience, or launching a new one that is, but nothing will affect subscriber numbers more. If you’re measuring social media followers, you can try publishing more content to the network(s) of your choice, and use what combination of messaging, creative and links your followers there respond to as a guide for what to do more of yourself. And if you have any sort of budget, you can run ads inexpensively on Facebook that can move pretty much any metric for scale, at least temporarily (including but not limited to app installations, Facebook or Instagram followers or reach, page views and newsletter subscribers).

If you care about engagement, and you’re measuring average time on page, you could experiment with publishing longer, more detailed content to see if it holds readers’ attentions. If it’s bounce rate that you care about, you can link to more of your own content in more noticeable ways from within more of the content you publish. If you’re measuring your newsletter open rate, most email services will let you experiment with serving different subject lines for the same campaigns to your subscribers and tell you which was more successful, a feature called A/B testing or multivariate testing. If you’re measuring your social media engagement, you can experiment with what time of day you post there, as well as how frequently you post, and, on networks that are conducive to it like Twitter (very!) and Facebook (somewhat!), how often to repost the same or similar content.

Finally, if you care about devotion and you’re measuring returning website visitors, try creating more recurring website features that keep your audience coming back. Or you could launch an email newsletter that drives people to your website (or, if you already have one, increase the frequency of your existing one, or change how you frame the content in it to get a bigger response out of your subscribers). With devotion as a goal, as is the case with scale and engagement, what you publish is often as much or more important as how you publish it, so don’t be afraid to adapt your editorial strategy as you learn more about what people respond to.

What strategy will work for you? You can’t know that yet, and you shouldn’t expect to be able to: publications and their audiences vary widely, and so, necessarily, does what succeeds for them. Now, though, you should be in a much better position to discover what works best for your publication, and your audience. All that’s left is to start. Magazines Canada

David Topping is the Senior Manager of Product at St. Joseph Media, which owns Toronto Life and FASHION, among other titles, where he leads digital product development and management for all of the company’s editorial brands, as well as the clients of its custom content wing, Strategic Content Labs. In his career in Canadian media, largely in digital leadership roles, he’s launched successful products, built fledgling outlets into powerhouses, and turned decades-old legacy brands towards their digital futures. He’s worked at everything from flush start-ups to poor but punchy up-and-comers, and his work has been regularly recognized as the best of its kind in the country, including at the National Magazine Awards, where he’s won five.

Magazines Canada Hotsheets deliver current information on a single topic, each written by an expert in the field. Return to Magazines Canada Hotsheets.

Canada Council for the Arts / Conseil des arts du Canada Department of Canadian Heritage Ontario Arts Council / Conseil des arts de l'Ontario Ontario Media Development Corporation (OMDC)


Recommended Reading: Become a Magazine Editor by Barbara Johnston

By Barbara Johnston, Editor & Partner, West Coast Editorial Associates

The magazine business, like all forms of publishing, has undergone seismic shifts in the last decade with the flight of print advertising to online and the growth of tablet and mobile reading habits, requiring existing magazines to reinvent themselves and providing new opportunities for innovators. Something that doesn’t change is the need to focus on readers’ interests and needs, and magazine editors who serve readers well will always be in demand. Here are some books, blogs and other resources that are useful for both new and experienced magazine editors.

Mastering the craft with dictionaries

Some cherish dictionaries, but they’re not everyone’s passion; if you’re going to thrive in magazines, you should know your way around the following three:

  • Canadian Oxford Dictionary, 2nd ed. (Canadian spelling patterns). Available online via subscription. The ITP Nelson Canadian Dictionary and Gage Canadian Dictionary are also used as Canadian sources.
  • Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (American spelling patterns). Free online.
  • Oxford English Dictionary (British spelling patterns). Free online.

Mastering the craft with usage, grammar and other guides

Dozens of print and online works are available—what’s best for you will depend on the publication you’re working for. Here is a partial list to get you started; all are recent or recently updated:

Mastering the craft with style guides

There are many specialized and a few general style guides, but in Canadian general interest magazines you are most likely to follow the Canadian Press Stylebook, known simply as CP. It is well organized, frequently updated, available in French (La Presse Canadienne Guide de redaction) and available in print or as an online guide for an annual subscription fee. Also available is its very handy companion Canadian Press Caps and Spelling. Seeing as you can never have too many books (or bookmarks), here are some others to consider:

  • Associated Press Stylebook 2017. [print or online subscription]
  • Chicago Manual of Style. 17th edition. [print or online subscription]
  • Editing Canadian English: A Guide for Editors, Writers, and Everyone Who Works with Words. 3rd edition, 2015. Editors’ Association of Canada [print and ebook]

Breaking into the business

If you’re just starting out and want to become a magazine editor, it can be hard to know where to start: many different career paths might lead you there, and when you talk to people in the business you’ll find that their backgrounds, degrees and job histories are remarkably diverse. While this may seem discouraging, it actually means that if you really want to do this job, no matter where you’re starting from, it’s possible to find a path there! You’re probably inspired by the greats, like The Walrus, Harper’s, Geist, Maclean’s, Canadian Geographic or Vanity Fair. However, the fight for entry-level jobs at these institutions is fierce. To gain experience, consider the smaller magazines and journals that you might not see on the newsstands: depending on your interests, small literary or art journals, science and nature journals, online-only magazines, and industry and association journals (to name a few) employ many more editors than the newsstand magazines. At these magazines you can gain critical experience while doing satisfying, challenging work in fascinating niche fields, and you’ll meet talented professionals happy to pass on their knowledge and enthusiasm for the evolving world of magazine editing.

Career path to becoming a magazine editor [web resource]
Good basic information. Divided into three sections: Gaining Early Experience, Getting the Proper Education, and Breaking into the Field. Emphasizes the path from writer to editor, which is just one among many.

How to be a copy editor for a magazine [blog]
A short, clear article on what it’s like to be a copy editor for a magazine.

So you want to be an editor: Information about a career in editing (Editors’ Canada) [web resource and PDF]
Perhaps the best brief introduction and overview of the field of editing; includes sections on where and how editors work, career paths, rewards and drawbacks, educations and training, and interesting “meet an editor” boxes throughout, which bring the field to life.

Moving on up: Thriving in magazine publishing and editing

If you’re already in the magazine business and looking to work your way up to the corner office, here are some great books and sites to help get you there:

The Art of Making Magazines, edited by Victor S. Navasky and Evan Cornog, 2012. [179-page book]
A collection of 12 articles by editors, writers, art directors and publishers from magazines such as Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, Elle and Harper’s. A fascinating and instructive read for anyone interested in being part of the magazine business, with a good mix of practical advice and behind-the-scenes war stories from leaders in the industry.

Best Practices for Canadian Magazine Publishing, Editing and Writing, PWAC, Canadian Society of Magazine Editors, and Magazines Canada, 2011. [9-page PDF]
Created through a consensus process involving writers, magazine editors and publishers from across Canada, this document describes the professional obligations for each group in succinct bullet-points. All three sections are worth reading so that one can understand not only one’s own role, but the perspective and expectations of the other two parties in this symbiotic relationship.

The Editor’s Companion: An Indispensable Guide to Editing Books, Magazines, Online Publications, and More by Steve Dunham, 2015. [231-page book]
A useful guide for both new and experienced editors, organized around editing for content, focus, precise language and grammar, along with advice on editorial relationships and workflow, and samples of editing with explanations of what was changed and why. Magazines Canada

Magazines Canada Hotsheets deliver current information on a single topic, each written by an expert in the field. Return to Magazines Canada Hotsheets.

Canada Council for the Arts / Conseil des arts du Canada Department of Canadian Heritage Ontario Arts Council / Conseil des arts de l'Ontario Ontario Media Development Corporation (OMDC)


Google Algorithm Updates by Michael Cottam

Google Algorithm Updates—What They Mean For Publishers

By Michael Cottam, SEO Consultant

Google is continuously improving their algorithms, striving to be able to find the best content and the best user experience for searchers amongst the incredible masses of new content published every day.

Some of what Google is adding into their algorithms is designed to recognize great, original and popular content, while other metrics are designed to catch sites that are trying to “game the system” (especially with links) or are simply republishing material that originated elsewhere.

Today, Google uses three kinds of signals for ranking web pages: content, links and user engagement metrics. Publishers need to understand what Google is looking at (both good and bad signals) in order to create and tune their sites to rank well in Google and deliver traffic to their sites.


The most famous part of Google’s algorithms that has to do with content is Panda. Launched in February 2011, it was designed to reward pages with things like big, original images; plenty of well-written text; rich content elements like videos, maps, etc. It was also designed to penalize pages with tons of ads, too much whitespace and forms above the fold, thin content, etc.; things that make the user experience less satisfying. Google has continued to tweak Panda over the years, and with each iteration Google has been better able to recognize truly good, original, useful content and/or poorer quality content that was undeservedly seen as high quality in earlier iterations of the algorithm.

What can/should publishers do with respect to their content to benefit from content-related updates? Or, at least, not be penalized by them?

  • Create a great user experience: Make the page load quickly; don’t interfere with the user experience with popup dialogs that cover the content; make it easy to get to the content on the page that they’re looking for without excessive scrolling.
  • Cover the topic thoroughly: Check out other publishers’ pages who have covered the same topic, and are ranking for the target term—are they talking about subtopics or referring to related terms that you aren’t? It’s not about the word count—it’s about covering the subject matter thoroughly on a single page. And don’t split the content across multiple pages—Google is going to pick just one of your pages to rank for that topic and ignore the content that’s on the other ones.
  • Use original images and videos: If you have the same image that was provided by the company you’re writing about, or are using stock photography for a destination article, then you’ve got nothing better to offer the user than the other publishers covering this topic. Take your own photos and videos whenever possible.
  • Use original text: Don’t copy overview material from people’s biographies, company backgrounders, or tourist bureau sites.


The most famous part of Google’s algorithms related to links is Penguin. Prior to Penguin (launched in April 2012), Google had (and still has today) manual link penalties. If you think of links like “votes” for your page, link penalties are what you get when you’re caught engaging in voter fraud. Google wants to count links to your site that represent a vote for the content on that page. Anything you do to fake this can get you in trouble. When you have a penalty, typically your page will suddenly rank 40 or more places lower than it did before the penalty…or not at all.

With manual link penalties, a Google Search Quality engineer has actually looked at your links, and can see what you’ve done to get links you didn’t really earn. The engineer manually registers a penalty against specific pages, or your entire site, and you get a notice in Google Search Console to that effect.

Penguin penalties were algorithmic, meaning that they’re automatically seeing link patterns that they know indicate bad or paid links and automatically applying a penalty to your site. You get no notification—you just stop ranking for certain terms, or for anything at all. With the advent of Penguin 4.0 in October 2016, Google claimed that there was no longer a Penguin penalty—those types of links that Penguin was penalizing are now simply ignored by the Page Rank calculations. However, it’s very important to note that there still are algorithmic penalties in Google outside of Penguin, and you CAN get penalized for certain kinds of link patterns.

What can/should publishers do with respect to links to protect against link-related updates?

  • Don’t get links from pages that are going to be syndicated across many sites—this is known as “article marketing.” That includes e-press releases.
  • Avoid site-wide links on other sites. It’s fine to sponsor a charity, for example, but ask for a single link from a page related to your sponsorship, or a blog post, or their About page—not a site wide footer or sidebar link.
  • Don’t get links from sites where clearly humans don’t visit: directories you’ve never heard of, blogs where the content is fluff, sites that don’t get shared on social media or linked to by many other sites.
  • Do review your latest backlinks periodically in Search Console and if you find really bad sites linking to you, submit a disavow file to Google Search Console with those domains in it.
  • Do traditional marketing and PR, and make that the reason you get links. Be a resource for reporters to interview/quote on your industry; contribute to blogs and journals in your space; support charities and your community and get mentioned in the newspaper because of that.


What is Google measuring when it comes to user engagement? The two most likely signals are click through rate and bounce rate.

Each position from 1 to 10 on page 1 has an average click through rate (CTR). For example, about 20% of searchers will click on the first organic search result; about 13% will click on the second result, etc. If your page is the fourth result for a given search, and the average CTR on result #4 is 9%, and over the last 100 searches for that term Google sees 12% of people click on your result, that’s a positive signal to Google that your headline and snippet matches what the searchers are looking for. On the other hand, if your CTR is lower than average, it indicates searchers aren’t liking what your page says it is.

Your bounce rate is the percentage of searchers that click on you in the search results, then click the back button AND click a different result. Presumably, this indicated that your page didn’t answer their question—at least, not completely—and they had to go to another page to complete their task. A high bounce rate thus indicates to Google that your page’s content is either low quality or not very relevant/helpful for that particular search query. Conversely, a low bounce rate indicates your page is a great answer to that searcher’s question.

What can/should publishers do with respect to user engagement signals to protect against changes in this part of the algorithm?

  • Be sure your content thoroughly covers the page’s topic, so that a searcher probably won’t have to go to your competitor’s page to get the rest of the information they’re looking for.
  • Structure your page in such a way that the user can see that the subtopic they might be looking for is on the page, even if it’s not initially visible. Use tabs, or use inpage anchors to scroll to sections.
  • Do the searches yourself, and look at what Google is showing for your page’s headline and snippet (which come from the page title and the meta description in general). Ask yourself if your page in the search result looks more compelling than the other 9 on page 1. Does your result look credible (mention reviews, BBB A+ rating, years in business, etc.)? Does it look spammy or legit (don’t use a page title of “Purple Widgets – Widgets that are Purple – Purple Colored Widgets” for example).
  • Use rich content like videos, maps, virtual tours that engage the visitor and keep them on your page.
  • Don’t use tricks like stuffing your JavaScript history or having a series of redirect hops to make the user have to click the back button multiple times to get back to the search results. This might make your bounce rate look good in Google Analytics, but it will have no effect on how Google Search measures your bounce rate.


Google is continually refining their algorithm, making it better at recognizing great content, and recognizing “buzz” or positive mentions from real people—especially authorities. If you design your site content for a great user experience, giving the user the best and most complete resource for the topics they’re searching, then as long as you’re not doing crazy coding tricks that prevent Google from seeing your content clearly and correctly, you should be in good shape. When it comes to links, don’t think about links: think about marketing, getting exposure in places on the web that real people visit regularly. The links that come from this kind of exposure are the kinds of links you want, that Google will see as “editorial votes” for your content and brand, and keep you out of Google penalties. Magazines Canada

Magazines Canada Hotsheets deliver current information on a single topic, each written by an expert in the field. Return to Magazines Canada Hotsheets.

Canada Council for the Arts / Conseil des arts du Canada Department of Canadian Heritage Ontario Arts Council / Conseil des arts de l'Ontario Ontario Media Development Corporation (OMDC)


GDPR Readiness: 7 Areas to Address by Derek Lackey

Photo of Derek LackeyBy Derek Lackey, President, Direct Marketing Association of Canada

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) requires a complete re-think of data management practices:

  • How you capture it,
  • How and where you manage it,
  • Whether or not you share it, and most important,
  • How and when you process that data.

If you do business in the EU, but not enough to completely rewire your data operations (for example, a firm that markets a product or service to EU citizens), we will address the key areas that we believe the Data Protection Authorities (DPAs) will be looking for after May 25, 2018.

Before taking an action you must assess whether you are a Data Controller or a Data Processor. (See GDPR Chapter 4.)

Stated plainly, a Controller decides what is collected when and how it is processed. A Processor carries out the request of the Controller. It is not unusual for an organization to be both, so always consider which hat you are wearing.

We will break GDPR into 7 areas of concern:

1. EU Data Subject Rights

Under GDPR, every data subject in the EU is entitled to the following rights:

  1. The right to be informed
  2. The right of access
  3. The right of rectification
  4. The right to erasure
  5. The right to restrict processing
  6. The right to data portability
  7. The right to object
  8. Rights related to automated decision making and profiling

Details for each of these rights can be found in Chapter 3.

These rights are most easily complied with if your data is centralized.

You must design and document policies and procedures that allow you to fulfill any of these requests within a reasonable period (30 days).

If difficulties are encountered, you can communicate with the Data Subject and inform them you require up to an additional 60 days to manage their request.

To comply with these rights, publishers must:

a) Develop processes to fulfill the request of the Data Subject within 30 days.
b) Be able to immediately stop processing data from individual consumers or sets of consumers when requested.

2. Accountability

One of the most important principles within GDPR is the notion of accountability. Any company that stores or processes consumer data must be able to demonstrate how they comply with the principles.

Publishers should answer the following five questions:

  1. At the point of collection, did we specify how this personal data will be used?
  2. Can we track and prove how the data was collected (date and timestamp, IP address, etc.)?
  3. Can we limit data collection to specifically what is necessary to serve the purpose for which it is collected (data minimization)?
  4. Can we store the data only as long as necessary for its intended purpose?
  5. Can we prove that we have done our best to secure the data?

In short, GDPR requires new levels of accountability and transparency, placing the responsibility firmly on the publisher’s ability to be able to demonstrate and prove all aspects of compliance.

Documenting how and why personal data was collected as well as the written policies and procedures is an important part of compliance. (See Guidance Document “Accountability.”)

3. Data Minimization

Throughout GDPR, data minimization is called for. If you do not need the collected data to do the business you wish to do, GDPR calls for you to delete that data.

Once the purpose of collecting data is complete, you should consider deleting it. So both the quantity (number of fields provided) and the length of time the data is kept are affected.

In all likelihood, it is this kind of useless data that will result in penalties for your organization.

4. Lawful Basis for Processing

This is a fundamental decision that must be made for every way you process data.

If you are sending emails, that is one form of data processing. If you are using cookies to profile an individuals’ preferences, that is another form of processing.

For each way you process that individual’s data you must decide on the Lawful Basis of Processing. (See Article 6.)

There are 3 lawful bases available to the private sector:

a) CONTRACTUAL: For all customers and near customers, you can do all types of processing required within the fulfillment of that contract. We recommend you update your terms and conditions and call out that you intend to email them, offering an opt-out opportunity at the point of data collection as well as in every email sent (unsubscribe mechanism that allows an individual to easily opt out). It should be as easy to unsubscribe as it is to subscribe. Important to note, this does not give you cart blanche to stuff all sorts of conditions into your terms and conditions. They must be relevant to your ability to fulfill on your contract with those individuals.

b) LEGITIMATE INTEREST: Much has been written and discussed on this form of lawful basis for processing, but our lawyers assure us that B2B players can communicate on a soft opt-out basis. Prospects that are engaged and show interest in your area of business can be contacted on this basis. The rule of thumb when executing is: if the recipient of an email could be left asking “Why did they send this to ME?” you should ask yourself, “Should this person be on our list?” In order to claim it is a legitimate interest, a Legitimate Interest Assessment must be completed. It is, in essence, a balancing test between your organization’s interests and the data subject’s interests.

c) CONSENT: If using webforms and online registration (opening an account) or trade show data collection (business cards, show organized scanners, etc.), be sure to add a couple of sentences to your collection forms like: “Thank you for subscribing to [name of your email subscription] from [name and address of the organization]. We will send you information relative to [your field of service]. You can reach us at ______ or ________. You can unsubscribe at any time.”

As a separate check box you could add “Yes, please include relevant messages from industry sources, including sponsors and advertisers.”

(See Guidance Document “Legitimate Interest” and/or “Consent.”)

5. Third Party Agreements

All third party agreements/contracts with vendors, partners and even clients do NOT currently include the language needed to provide clarity regarding who is responsible for what under GDPR. As these contracts become due, a close examination of the GDPR impact should be considered and appropriate clauses should be folded in to the new agreements.

6. Data Breach Protocol

GDPR requires all organizations who maintain personal data on EU data subjects to have a documented process in place in case of a Data Breach Incident. There are reporting requirements depending on the nature of the breach; when sensitive personal data is involved and there is potential for harm to the data subject, notification to your Data Protection Authority (DPA) is required within 72 hours. (See Guidance Document “Breach Reporting.”)

7. Webforms and Cookie Notices

This will be the responsibility of the new ePrivacy law working its way through the parliamentary process in the EU. Suffice to say, provide a Yes/No option so consumers can choose the placement of cookies to help serve them better. Forcing them to choose between viewing your site or giving consent is not consent “freely given” as defined by GDPR.

Other considerations:

  1. If your business operates from outside the EU, you should at the very least have appointed a representative within the EU.
  2. You should only transfer data outside of the EU to countries that offer an appropriate level of protection. PIPEDA (Canada’s current privacy law) has been deemed adequate, meaning data can be transferred across EU borders to Canada. To do so in the U.S. you may consider the Privacy Shield.
  3. Larger organizations who hold a lot of personal data may want to appoint a Data Protection Officer.

Fines of up to €20 million (US$23.9m) or four percent of annual global sales can be levied for noncompliance. Losing audience data and digital revenues for not having a GDPR strategy in place could prove even worse. (See Guidance Document “Administration Fines.”) Magazines Canada

Magazines Canada Hotsheets deliver current information on a single topic, each written by an expert in the field. Return to Magazines Canada Hotsheets.

Canada Council for the Arts / Conseil des arts du Canada Department of Canadian Heritage Ontario Arts Council / Conseil des arts de l'Ontario Ontario Media Development Corporation (OMDC)


5 Reasons to Use Instagram Stories by Ashley Cassidy Seale

Ashley Cassidy SealeBy Ashley Cassidy Seale, Founder and Creative Director, Ruby Social Co.

Instagram continues to dominate the social media scene by evolving its offering to remain the most relevant social network today. One of its fastest growing offerings is Instagram Stories (to give you an idea, 200 million people use the feature daily, which is 50 million more than Snapchat), allowing users to record short video clips that appear above the photo feed. While these videos used to disappear within 24 hours (a la Snapchat), users now have the option to save these videos and add them to their profile “Highlights.”

In an age of curated perfection and perhaps overly glossy content, it’s easy to understand why the on-the-fly nature of Stories has become so popular. The trend will continue to explode into this year; here are five reasons you should place a greater emphasis on Stories in 2018:

1. Stories offer more chances to be discovered by new followers

Many brands and individuals alike have noted that is increasingly difficult to grow their presence on Instagram. Due to the ongoing algorithm changes by Facebook as they continue to move towards the pay-to-play model, many users have experienced a considerable drop in the level of engagement with their content. This has been felt across the board and can be very discouraging; however, there are ways to improve the situation. While there is not an exact science of how to best improve the odds of your content being seen, regularly using Stories has been noted to help. In addition to being seen by your existing followers, Stories are also discoverable, which means that by including a hashtag and location you can be found on the Explore page by new followers.

2. Easily drive traffic to your website

If you have more than 10,000 followers and are using Instagram for Business, the company has included a helpful feature which allows you to link to outside content right within Stories. This is incredibly powerful for eliminating the barriers of traffic conversion as it allows a seamless transition from the Instagram app to your own website.

3. Provide a behind-the-scenes look and grant special access to events

Get creative with the type of content you post on Stories, and don’t be afraid to experiment. Stories allows you to provide a behind-the-scenes look at a story or bring the follower along with you to special events by reporting live from a location. While there are great ways to stylize your Stories to reflect your brand, the idea of this feature is to be a bit more authentic and less polished (believe it or not). Enhance your video by adding colours, stickers, filters and text.

4. Put a face to your team members

First and foremost, social media should be social. Stories is a great place to give your editorial staff members a (literal) voice. Pull back the curtain and consider scheduling regular “takeovers” with your various team members and have them expand on their content by adding their perspective. This can be a great strategy for humanizing your publication or adding a face to a byline, so to speak.

5. Stay top of mind

The more frequently you post on Stories, the more users engage with your videos, the further up in their feed you’ll move up. Using Stories is a great way to stay top of mind with your audience as it’s more real time than the traditional photo feed. Use the poll function and encourage your community to engage via DM (ensure your community manager is on top of this) to create a greater feeling of connection and trust. Experiment with different posting times outside of traditional business hours (i.e., evenings and weekends) to acknowledge your communities in different time zones than your own. Magazines Canada

Ashley Cassidy Seale is a communications professional with more than a decade of public relations and marketing experience. Between her time in the agency world, helming teams and leading award-winning, national campaigns for lifestyle, fashion and beauty brands to working in-house for design houses and luxury retail, Ashley has fine-tuned a truly holistic expertise. An early adopter of social media, she harnessed her digital know-how to build an online presence under the moniker Quaintrelle, which has since evolved from a lifestyle blog to a bona fide, internationally recognized brand with workshops and events. An influencer in her own right, she launched Ruby Social Co.—a communications and content studio for clever brands—to bring this unique perspective to thoughtfully navigate her clients into the spotlight.

Magazines Canada Hotsheets deliver current information on a single topic, each written by an expert in the field. Return to Magazines Canada Hotsheets.

Canada Council for the Arts / Conseil des arts du Canada Department of Canadian Heritage Ontario Arts Council / Conseil des arts de l'Ontario Ontario Media Development Corporation (OMDC)