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Content:

Canadian Forest Industries: Surveys the Nation

Canadian Forest Industries had known for several years that Canadian logging contractors were struggling financially. What they could not pinpoint—and no one else in the industry could either—was exactly how much they were struggling. It was common knowledge that most contractors had taken rate cuts to help the forestry industry through the 2007–2011 recession in U.S. housing. When the industry finally recovered from 2012 onwards, it seemed that contractors were being left behind but there was no hard data.

Canadian Forest Industries‘ audience is comprised of independent small- to medium-sized businesses, who simply didn’t have the resources or associations to collect the comprehensive data required. So the magazine decided to tackle the project themselves: they thought it would provide several months’ worth of exclusive online content to drive traffic, followed by a formal report. In a best case scenario, the CFI team hoped their findings would make an impact on the debate about the profitability crisis happening between the industry, the government and the contractors.

Content: The Breakdown—1 survey, 236 responses, 56-page final report, 15-part web series.

WHAT THEY DID

Group Publisher and Editorial Director Scott Jamieson and Canadian Forest Industries Editor Maria Church led the charge in launching the exhaustive readership survey to get feedback on the current state of the forestry industry in Canada.

After receiving the final data, the CFI editorial team combed through it for themes and angles, ready to analyze the results and turn the data into multiple forms of content. When they started reviewing the data and brainstorming how to share it, it became clear that a multi-media, multi-step approach was best.

The team did a gradual content rollout from June to October 2016. This slow trickle helped build momentum around the survey results and garner feedback, and allowed staff to manage the survey workload around their regular duties by staggering the work.

They began by launching a weekly 15-part web series with each short piece focused on a key finding from the survey, such as “Real world logging profits,” “Machine operator earnings,” “Operating cost trends,” and “Fleet replacement plans.” Each installment was promoted to CFI‘s 16,000 e-news subscribers and on their Twitter and Facebook feeds.

Canadian Forest Industries also ran a longer regional report every few weeks on Canada’s main forest areas to show their audience how their region was doing relative to prior years and other regions. After releasing the 15 themed reports and regional reports digitally from late June to late September, the team created a three-page summary article for the magazine’s October 2016 issue. Additionally, they produced a video segment that featured CFI editor Maria Church and anchor Tamar Atik sharing key findings from the survey data.

The CFI survey results were also shared in industry presentations at OptiSaw 2016 in Vancouver, and another at the Truck Loggers Association AGM in 2017.

Finally, the CFI team produced a 56-page final report. This combined all 15 thematic reports, the five regional reports and an executive summary in a single volume, along with quotes from loggers across Canada. It was released in October 2016, in conjunction with the October 2016 summary article.

Helpful Tip: Reach B2B readers during their slow season.

HOW THEY DID IT

Scott Jamieson and Maria Church worked together to create the survey, and then solicited feedback from a few logging associations, with the Truck Loggers Association in BC acting as a main partner. The CFI team threw everything they could think of into the survey questions and then used timers to whittle it down to a 15-minute survey. They also worked with third-party research firm Bramm & Associates to vet the survey, to ensure that their questions would produce usable data. All told, it took CFI under two weeks to produce the entire survey in English and French.

After launching the bilingual survey in early April 2016 (typically a slow time for loggers as they are not running their operations), the CFI team reached out to potential participants through email; online links on the magazine’s English and French sites; and LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook in both English and French. It was in the market for six weeks, resulting in over 230 complete replies to the detailed survey questions. As noted in the 15-part web series, survey respondents “were distributed according to the geographic breakdown of the forest industry, with 50% in Western Canada, 25% in Quebec, and the rest found in Ontario, Atlantic Canada, and central Canada. Within BC responses were almost evenly split between the BC coast and Interior.”

The research firm had a final report to CFI by mid-June. The editorial team then spent a week reviewing the results and planning how they’d roll them out to their audience.

Reaching Out: Email, shares, links.

CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES

Initially, the magazine was worried that the length of the survey would limit the number of complete replies. They decided to reach out to their target group directly through CASL-compliant emails, social media (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram), and popular industry websites.

Fortunately, the group of logging contractors that CFI was reaching out to were highly motivated. The contractors genuinely wanted to know the state of the industry. The survey also received a vote of support from the largest logging association, Truck Loggers in BC, who encouraged members to take the time to complete it.

Time management was a major challenge for the CFI team on this project as they were adding a large assignment to an already busy editorial staff. Using a third-party research firm to vet the survey and create the initial report was crucial, both for credibility and workload.

Jamieson also notes that executing a successful survey requires a skilled editor who is comfortable manipulating data and finding the story in the numbers.

Jamieson says: Manage the workload. Roll out your content. Then re-purpose it for the main report.

KNOWLEDGE SHARING

Research is one area where magazines can make a meaningful impact on their market, especially for business media markets and brands. Industry magazines are one of the few organizations within a sector that can provide an unbiased perspective on pressing industry issues. To help finance these projects, Jamieson recommends finding sponsors to pay for the research. For CFI‘s survey, Hultdins, Stihl, Tigercat and Ponsse were sponsors and the work was supported by the Ontario Media Development Corporation (OMDC).

Jamieson also recommends talking to stakeholders in your community to see what information would be most useful, testing the surveys with them, and giving a lot of thought to how the information will be used. For example, in the CFI survey the print magazine was a relatively minor player, with the majority of content produced for online, digital and social channels. He also recommends using free charting software online that can turn numbers into graphs and charts in a few minutes to avoid getting bogged down in the graphics process. The production department can then create high-end versions of the graphics chosen for print.

CFI released a follow-up survey in April 2018, which they hope will allow them to start analysing industry trends in the data. Using a similar content marketing strategy as for the 2017 survey, CFI plans to increase their use of social media for the 2018 survey outreach and eventual results sharing. The magazine’s ultimate goal is to produce a similar survey every two years.

See the full report here.


This Showcasing Success case study was made possible with the support of the Ontario Media Development Corporation.

Ontario Media Development Corporation (OMDC)

Content:

Fashion Magazine: In Motion

With a young, ambitious, agile and innovative team, Fashion magazine prides itself on testing out ideas and content plans based on the most immediate information and data available.

“Our chief strategy is to be adaptive!” says Noreen Flanagan, Editor-in-Chief of the St. Joseph Media title. “As everyone knows, print magazines and publishing as an industry are radically different than they were a few years ago and it remains persistently unpredictable. That means we constantly have to be both proactive and reactive; we’re constantly refining our goals and tactics.”

So, part of Fashion‘s strategic plans include video, an unique opportunity for the mag to create original, stylish, visually arresting and entertaining content that can be both separate from the magazine and/or a complement to it.

Snackable, shareable, social: The right content for the right audience.

WHAT THEY DO

As a brand, Fashion is all about high-quality content—whether that’s a fabulous photo shoot or an interview with an A-list celebrity—and Flanagan believes video is one of the best methods to tell these stories.

It’s the right format for these types of content, she says, because it allows for shareable and snackable cross-platform marketing, which connects well with the magazine’s audience who tend to be younger, mobile and more social.

It’s the front-row seat to all the things the Fashion girl (or guy—30% of their online audience is male) already loves—fashion, beauty, celebrity, lifestyle. It’s the equivalent of an all-access pass and leads to intimate connection with the audience that might be impossible with static pages and online copy.

To make those connections, Fashion uses video wherever they think it makes sense.

“We are meeting our audience wherever they are. We post videos on all our platforms—YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.” In addition, they add video to their hub property, fashionmagazine.com, completing the loop.

42% increase in video views on fashionmagazine.com; 70K views on original produced videos on Instagram; 2M video views on Facebook; 500% increase in shares on YouTube.

HOW THEY DO IT

Flanagan says the title is always looking to diversify and innovate with their digital ecosystem. They were one of the first publications to leverage guerilla-style Facebook Live videos which grew quickly in popularity. It gained enough traction that Fashion was able to monetize them.

“More recently we’ve been experimenting with live cover video shoots, 360० video, as well as video push via Instagram Stories and Instagram Live.”

With this agile approach, Fashion has reaped the benefits:

  • Year over year, they saw a 42% increase in video views on fashionmagazine.com
  • On Facebook in 2016, they had 1.4 million video views. The following year, that number increased to 2 million, a 70% increase.
  • On YouTube, “likes” have increased by 81% year over year; shares increased more than 500%; subscriber numbers rose by 40%; and comments increased by more than 260%.
  • On Instagram, original produced videos generated on average 70 thousand views.

Challenge: Keeping up to the shifting landscape. Solution: Pivoting the strategy to address change.

CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES

The challenge with producing video is being able to keep up to the constantly shifting social landscape. The key to Fashion‘s success, says Flanagan, is the team’s ability to pivot their video strategy to match what they see in the wild. For example, when Facebook recently changed its algorithm to prioritize live video and interactive engagement, Fashion made it their focus.

“We have big ambitions in the digital video space and are making significant investments, including hiring a full-time, in-house video editor to help us continue to produce rich, high-quality content. In future, we would love to develop different channels and franchises and we’re interested in experimenting with long-form, scripted or even an original series.”

Flanagan says: "Do video. A third of the time people spend online is dedicated to watching videos. It's clear the medium isn't going away."

ADVICE TO OTHERS

Flanagan’s advice for other magazines who are thinking of trying video? “Just do it!”

She says it’s ideal if you’re able to bring on a dedicated staff member with expertise in video production. For magazines who don’t have the ability to do so, then leveling up skills for all staff members is the next best option. Even learning a simple program like Videoshop can be the difference between producing cool video clips or mediocre content.


This Showcasing Success case study was made possible with the support of the Ontario Media Development Corporation.

Ontario Media Development Corporation (OMDC)

Content:

Canadian Geographic: Mapping a Historical Tragedy

In April 2017, as part of a massive Google Earth redesign, tech giant Google announced Voyager, a tool that would allow content producers to tell rich textual and visual stories using text, photos, videos and navigable waypoints. The new tool built on Google Earth’s existing 360-degree content and spectacular satellite imagery and featured content from partners including BBC Earth, NASA and the Jane Goodall Institute.

This major update caught the attention of Canadian Geographic.

“We knew immediately that we wanted to produce Canadian content,” said Ellen Curtis, the Director for Canadian Geographic Education. “Because we were already working on our Indigenous Peoples’ Atlas of Canada project, it seems like a natural fit to do our first Voyager story focusing on residential schools.”

In launching their endeavour, called “Canada’s Residential Schools,” Canadian Geographic became the first Canadian content producer for Google Earth Voyager. (Google produced all other Canadian content on Voyager prior to CG’s work.)

First Canadian content producer for Google Earth Voyager

WHAT THEY DID

The goal of the team at Canadian Geographic was to give readers/viewers/users a small glimpse into the horrors of the residential school system that operated from 1831 to 1996. The hope was that viewers would click on links in the story to learn more, or perhaps would even seek out information on their own.

To tackle this enormous story, the team divvied up the information into four chapters:

  • Chapter 1 provides historical context for how the schools came to be.
  • Chapter 2 depicts what the schools were like and how the students were treated.
  • Chapter 3 outlines the effects of the treatment and abuse on the students and how the system was damaging in a number of different ways.
  • Chapter 4 describes the transition that led to their closures, the apologies that followed and the beginning of the healing process.

“There are, of course, more elements to this story than what we were able to cover in those four chapters but we intended this to act as a broad introductory overview.”

To add richness to the story, the team added 63 images, 26 quotes, 130 school waypoints (including 16 waypoints for schools represented inside the story), and 17 videos. The process took about three months, including a full month of research, writing and editing.

21 pages of content, 63 images, 26 quotes, 10 video links.

HOW THEY DID IT

The Canadian Geographic project was unique in that the education team led the process. As team lead, they decided on which stories would be beneficial to tell, collaborated with the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation based in Winnipeg, MB for data sets, then looped in the editorial team.

From there, the editors decided how they wanted to tell the story to fit the Voyager format, engaged in research, sourced images, wrote the copy and reviewed it for clarity, flow, tone and style. The NCTR’s director and fact checkers also reviewed the story to ensure accuracy and a respectful tone.

When it came to working with Google, the collaboration was simple, according to Curtis.

“We emailed them a rough draft of the story and they set up the framework on their end. We had multiple opportunities to review and make sure that everything was in the right place, even down to the details of how far we might want to be zoomed in for a location on the map.”

Linked up: Indigenous Peoples Atlas of Canada (project), Canada's Residential Schools (Google Earth Voyager project), Canada's Indigenous People (November/December issue, 2017)

CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES

Curtis says the most challenging part of the project was narrowing down the story and sifting through the experiences, testimonies and videos of people who suffered through horrible and degrading abuses. But facing these hard truths in order to share them with others was worth it. So far, “Canada’s Residential Schools” has been viewed 55,000 times and the goal of shining the spotlight on this tragic part of our history is being met.

“There are so many more stories that we would like to be able to tell with Google Earth Voyager,” she states. “We’re already planning the next ones. Some of them will follow the theme of reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples, others will have more traditional geographic approaches.”

All told, they hope to have a total of three new Voyager stories posted in 2018 and continue to build their partnership with Google.

Curtis says: "Try Google Earth Voyager. It offers an easy way to make stories interactive, engaging and visual."

KNOWLEDGE SHARING

Curtis strongly encourages other magazines to try working with the Voyager tool.

“Google Earth Voyager offers an easy way to make a story engaging and visual,” she says. “There are many ways to get creative on Google Earth—choosing 2D birds-eye views of locations, using 3D views to make landscapes and cities pop out more, picking street views and photo spheres. All this adds diversity to the visual representation of a story. And the opportunity to put videos and photos in with the text on the panels is great for giving users options for engaging with the story content.”

See Canadian Geographic‘s story, “Canada’s Residential Schools,” on Google Earth Voyager.


This Showcasing Success case study was made possible with the support of the Ontario Media Development Corporation.

Ontario Media Development Corporation (OMDC)