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Help Guide Your Association for the Next Five Years

Matthew Holmes
Matthew Holmes

There’s that persistent itch as Labour Day approaches that has nothing to do with summer insects: the change in season seems to hinge precisely as September begins, and the pace of life tends to shift with it, and everything feels a little faster.

For Magazines Canada, this time of year is also when we check in with members to get a sense of their priorities and how we line up against their expectations. This year is a little different: we’re looking for feedback on our draft strategic plan that will guide us for the next five years (click here if you haven’t yet read the plan).

This is actually a pretty big deal for the association: the new Strategic Plan will span Magazines Canada’s 50th anniversary. In fact, if you draw a line from 1920 when the Canadian Business Press was founded (the precursor to the CBMA that merged with Magazines Canada earlier this year), then this new plan continues 100 years of advocating and serving the Canadian magazine industry.

The magazine sector has changed radically over this time—not to mention the business, social and technological context we operate within—but the reason that we are here has not. Canadian magazines still deliver to their audiences the promise of voice, agency and community. To borrow from Magazines Canada’s own vision, magazines “connect, inspire and advance” our arts and professions, our local communities and our national discourse—and the proof of that is borne out by the fact that three-quarters of Canadians across all age groups are still frequent readers of magazines.

But our consumers are changing, and how they encounter and engage with magazines is changing as well. If we look back on the last few years, it’s impossible to ignore how these changes have confronted our members with the need to adapt and innovate in a highly competitive, disruptive and increasingly disintermediated environment. And as we prepare for the next five years, we know big challenges and opportunities will present themselves—for magazines and for Magazines Canada itself.

When I was hired for this position, it was with an understanding that my primary role would be to help the association and, by extension our magazine community, through some of these pressing changes. Our industry is adapting and evolving; if our association doesn’t do the same then it’s no longer meeting its role of reflecting and representing its sector. Further, I’d argue if it’s not at the front edge of that, then it’s pulling it backward.

The Board of Directors has established a series of goals throughout the 2018–2023 Strategic Plan; aspirations that that will inform everything we do moving forward:

  • We will expand our membership to include digital magazine media and custom publications;
  • We will reflect the diversity of Canadian magazines and Canadian communities;
  • We will shape the internal structure of the organization to reflect the priorities of our industry;
  • We will focus our efforts on providing the skills-training, best practices and peer-exchange that a rapidly changing industry needs as it evolves and retools;
  • We will showcase a dynamic and diverse industry to all of our stakeholders—from industry members to government and funding stakeholders, to the public at large; and
  • We will prepare for our 50th anniversary in 2023 by ensuring our association reflects the membership and the industry it seeks to represent: expanding into digital platforms, investing in new skills and technologies, and being focused in our promotion of Canadian magazine media to the public.

What do you think? We’d love to know. This is your chance to help us refine how we will respond to change and how we articulate the goals we set for our sector. Challenge us to go further, tell us what you still need from us, there’s still time to influence where we go from here.

Matthew Holmes
President and CEO