Masthead Blogs
Wednesday, November 19, 2014
Covers Sell
Scott Bullock
Have you ever heard of Paper Magazine?  I certainly hadn’t, until yesterday. But thanks to a morning TV “news” program, I was alerted  to the fact that Kim Kardashian had decided to pose nude for Paper magazine.  A quick google search and there it was, Kim in all her glory for the world to behold.

They call the Winter issue their “Art Issue.”  Their web site goes on to say:  Our 2014 Art Issue is an art project in and of itself, in which we explore, deconstruct and obsess over the theme of attention: BREAK THE INTERNET. Pairing Kim Kardashian with the legendary photographer Jean-Paul Goude was the kickoff. Like it or not, Kardashian is a Hyper-Pop-Culture-Icon-Institution. She understands fame and popularity as if it were coded in her DNA. Goude popped the cork on what makes her an icon: it is not just her ass, but her willingness to give us 100 percent.” Really? Uh huh, sure.

According to their website, Paper has been around for 30 years. I guess I’ve been out of touch for 3 decades.  But not anymore. Here is how they describe themselves:

“PAPER COMMUNICATIONS is a MAGAZINE, a WEBSITE and a CREATIVE STRATEGY AGENCY that helps brands connect to the culture that has grown from our days in downtown New York clubs, art galleries and fashion runways. Just as we have evolved over these past 30 years, we are now helping brands embrace the ever-changing cultural landscape with event marketing,design collaborations, trend reporting, content creation, overall strategy and most importantly introducing brands into our world of influencers and tastemakers, who create the culture we celebrate.” Ok then.

Perhaps that’s why their web site is selling the Limited Edition Nude cover for $20 + $4 for shipping and handling. You can also order the Cover With Dress for $10 + $4 for shipping and handling. One can’t help wondering how much Paper paid Kim to pose for their Winter 2014 Art Issue? The bottom line (wink wink) is that now a lot of people are talking about Paper Magazine, liking them on Facebook, and tweeting about them on Twitter. Mission accomplished.


Wednesday, November 19, 2014
Covers Sell
Scott Bullock
The Winter 2015 issue of Dirt Trax is set to hit newsstands on December 22nd, 2014.

Art Director Andrew Knoor managed to squeeze in a total of 8 hooks, with good use of the key cover real estate. The image chosen is a classic action shot, and the hot color choices help give the cover a neon power boost.


Wednesday, November 19, 2014
57 Media Spikes
Dennis Kelly
Greetings once again. So glad you could join us for a few minutes. You might remember yesterday, we were having a great discussion with Peter.
He was asking what it meant to purchase a radio sponsorship. What it means, Peter, is you are making a purchase to be specifically aligned to a particular report so that listeners get to know you as the one always associated with that feature. To make it worthwhile for both the advertiser and the station, these are usually 13 week features.

Ideally you want a feature that ties into your product or service if available:
Ie: Today’s Ski Report is brought to you by Razor’s Edge Ski Wax*
This Traffic Report is brought to you by See Your Way Clear Windshield Wipers*
This Daily Business Report is brought to you by Retirement Mutual Funds•
(* all fictitious names. Any similarity to actual products is purely coincidental)

It doesn’t have to be an exact match, but it makes a great affiliation and name recall if the ad and the report are closely aligned.

So, Peter asked, is this all I need? Just one sponsorship and don’t do anything else?

Interesting question.  If funds are limited, a sponsorship is an excellent way to target a very specific audience-your audience-and make sure you maximize your exposure to them. Even if you have more than enough funds, a sponsorship is an excellent way to be in front of your audience on a regular basis. If I have the opportunity, certainly I’d add more radio time and more media to my buy. But this can be an excellent starting point and anchor for any campaign. Just know that within Radio and all media, there are multiple layers of choices for where and how to invest those ad dollars. Until we revisit this, you can also take a peek at our Radiowaves PDF found here. This will offer you some additional ammunition as you’re planning.

Stay tuned.

P.S: The Power of Theatre Of The Mind Radio: Some readers may remember ‘The Lone Ranger,’ a very popular TV series which ran in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s. It was also recently a feature film which had limited success. But before movies and TV, The Lone Ranger was an immensely popular radio series which started in 1933, and aired over 2,900 radio episodes. And no-one could see him, but everyone knew exactly what he looked like.  The Power of Radio is as visual as your imagination.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014
57 Media Spikes
Dennis Kelly
Thanks for taking the time to join me. Not too long ago I heard a familiar statement from one client who said they’d like to start advertising again. I replied with customary – WONDERFUL!! enthusiasm and began asking a few questions.

Well that’s exciting Peter, have you thought about which media you’d like to use?

Without missing a beat, Peter said, ‘Absolutely, we’re going to use Radio!’

An excellent choice I countered, how are you going to use it?

This prompted the first of a series of quizzical looks?

What do you mean, how?  We’re going to be on radio.

Yes, and that’s exciting but HOW do you intend to use it?

A blank stare met this second question.

Okay Peter, here’s what I mean. Radio is deemed both the physical unit which delivers the sound via airwaves, as well as the media which communicates with no visual experience. Because each of us experiences radio through the listening to our own tastes, time, and location, radio has become a very personal experience. Unlike Television, where viewers are program loyal, radio listeners are station loyal and tend to keep it fixed on one dial position for the majority of their tuning day. What we want to do in our radio advertising is find the best station or stations that our target group is listening to. Put our message in their ears on an ongoing basis, in a format that is appealing and relevant to them.

Peter was non-plussed so far. But Dennis you told me that Radio reaches over 90% of Adult listeners every week. What difference would it make, as long as we’re on ‘Radio’? Peter does raise a valid point. Nearly every forum of advertising is good and it will help get your name and message out there. But the important part of putting that sparkling message out there is making sure it reaches the people who count, and you’re not just counting the people you reach. The way you reach them is the How, I was asking about. 

Let’s just take our home base to start with Peter. We are in a prominent city in Canada. We have, in our city alone, twenty-one (21) radio stations at this writing. Each of them with a different mix of music, personalities, information, sports, talk, weather, language, and everyone of them looking for your advertising dollars. In each of those stations, the audience composition will vary depending on gender, age, education, musical tastes, affection for the radio personalities at each daypart, and the location (home/drive/office/patio/other) of the listener.

Peter was starting to shift his weight, that kind of glazed over look was forming? Wait a minute. Are you saying that all of this happens on each station!?!

Yes Peter. That’s it exactly. In addition, when radio airtime is sold, it can typically be sold as a 60 second commercial, or 30 second commercial and there are options for using a 15 second spot now as well. These are often sold in timeblocks or ‘daypart’ segments best known as:

• Breakfast: 5.30am – 10.00am
• Day: 10.00am – 3.00pm
• Drive: 3.00pm – 8.00pm
• Evening: 8.00pm-1.00am

There are sometimes minor variations from market to market and station to station, but in the majority, these are the segments you are purchasing. You might already know, Peter, these are typically sold as a Reach Plan meaning you purchase an equal number of spots in each of the dayparts.  For example, it can be a 16, 20, 24, 28, 32 spot weekly reach plan. Meaning that each of our 4 dayparts would air 4 , 5, 6, 7, or 8 spots per week. This gives you a balanced rotation of commercials to stay with your listeners all day. It also means that deeper pocketed advertisers don’t swoop all the ‘Breakfast’ period spots and leave the rest of the day to other advertisers.

So, Peter asked, if I only wanted say 20 Breakfast spots per week, I couldn’t do it?

Well, depending on the stations’ available inventory, you might be able to, but it commands such a high rate premium to isolate just one daypart that it’s often not advantageous to do this. You pay a very high price to reach the same audience, and only those listeners, multiple times. It’s a smarter strategy to extend the reach using multiple dayparts, AND if budget allows, to use multiple radio stations.

Does this mean I have to buy reach plans?

Not at all. There are opportunities for you to buy just a specific daypart, but higher premiums may deter you. Some stations will allow you to go a bit heavier on some dayparts where it’s more relevant for you. Ie: Move a spot or two from each of Day and Evening into Drive daypart if you offer say ‘Take Out Food’ and want to reach the crowd going home after work. One strategy we’ve used to great effect, and it’s easy to do, is to buy a sponsorship package.

What does that mean, posed Peter?

It means Peter, it’s time to exhale for today and continue this discussion tomorrow. See you then.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014
57 Media Spikes
Dennis Kelly
Welcome along. Is your advertising working as hard as you are? Genuinely? Is it? Is it stimulating awareness? Provoking trial by purchase? Inciting repeat purchases by more and more customers? If it is, break out the champagne and celebrate. That’s fabulous. If it’s not doing any of those things-then STOP. Right now. STOP your campaign dead in its tracks. The whole intent of your advertising is to generate sales. Sometimes that’s an immediate lift in response as measured at the cash register.

Sometimes it’s a measurable call to action to visit a website and get a coupon, a free report, or to place a phone call for more information.
Sadly most advertising fails to leave a mark. Worse, it fails to make a sale. Even enough sales to justify the cost of the ad process from concept to placement. So if you can look at your ads right now, and they’re not working- then stop them, NOW!!

Some years back I had a very prominent specialized financial lender as a client who used business newspapers, and a few magazines very smartly.
His audience was well targeted. His ads were well written. An engaging testimonial style with an inviting headline for each of them. Beneath their logo they placed a 1-800 Number for anyone to call in. They did this for two years and enjoyed great response by all accounts.

One fateful year, they asked about the relevance of the 1-800 Number. I suggested customizing it a bit more by adding a specific ‘Extension’ number in the ad. Or to ask for a certain person whose name appeared in the ad. This way it could be accurately measured and tracked which ads were working and which inquiries were coming from which papers in each market. This was dismissed as being unnecessary as they ‘had a pretty good idea’ where the replies were coming from even though they couldn’t measure it.

I don’t know about you dear reader, but when I’m spending $100,000 on a campaign, I WANT TO KNOW where my replies are coming from, not just a pretty good idea!

Which ads are working?.
How are they working?.
Are we getting a better response from ad A or B or C ?.
This is the underpinning to all future successes.
TEST your ads. Track what’s working or not.

It strikes me that too many advertisers are worried about the cosmetics of the ad and less about the return it can deliver. The role of your advertising is to make sales.

You don’t have to take my word for it.

There is a century old benchmark of what advertising is, but that’s for another day.

For today, concentrate on stopping your advertising that’s ineffective, dull, boring, and not driving any business. That first step to stop will be a pivotal moment for you and your future success. You’ve worked hard to get this far. Don’t let your advertising let you down.

Stay tuned.

P.S. Recently someone posed the question of why I advocate TESTING. Heck let’s just put all our media muscle behind the campaign and run with it. Hmmm? Trouble is, without knowing if it’s working, you can run the campaign off an expensive cliff and suffer a very pricey fail.  

Here’s a favourite analogy for you: You don’t need to eat a whole bowl of soup to discover if it’s too salty. One or two spoonfuls should tell you. Treat your campaign the same way.

Friday, November 07, 2014
57 Media Spikes
Dennis Kelly
Hi, hope you’re having a great day.

Recently one client asked about a small online campaign we were developing. I was, naturally very pleased they liked our media recommendation, but a bit disconcerted at the question. Are the 50,000 impressions on site XYZ going to be enough over 4 weeks?

Should we buy more just in case? You can never give a media buyer-that’s me- too much money. However, she was asking as though just the incremental weight was all that would be required to guarantee a winner.  There are just too many variables that influence responses - in all media.

Certainly having adequate presence is among them. Choosing the right site or sites contributes as well. The nature of the creative is a key element:

    Is it engaging?
    Will it pull you in enough to stimulate a ‘click’ to get to your site?
    Is there any other media support to bolster awareness?
    How much equity is there, if any, in the brand being advertised?

To suggest, or hope it can all be fixed, or made better by throwing more at it is not the ideal strategy in our estimation. We’d love to see this campaign do extremely well. We want that for every campaign. But the only way to know - to really know if this online campaign is working is to test it. Measure it. See what level of responses it generates, rather than increasing the spend at the outset.

Before opening up the wallet even further, we countered with this proposal:

    Keep the proposed weight the same of 50,000 impressions.
    Shorten the flight.
    Make it two weeks instead of four weeks.
    The budget will not change.
    You’ll increase the weight per week.
    You’ll have two weeks – which is a lifetime on-line, for some testing.

Then after two weeks, when all 50,000 Impressions have been deployed through different creative sizes on different positions on the site, you’ll have a benchmark of what’s working, or not, and can adjust accordingly. My client was taken aback. You’re the first person to suggest something other than just spend more money. That’s why we believe it’s Your Advertising. Well Planned. Well Spent.

Stay tuned.

P.S. Your marketing is your lifeline. Cut this budget and you slice your jugular. Always be in front of your audience. And do it smartly and with integrity. You will be remembered by the lowest denominator you select.  Choose wisely.

Thursday, November 06, 2014
57 Media Spikes
Dennis Kelly
Welcome back.

Thanks for taking my call. We just heard that you landed this account and think our magazine would be a great place for you to advertise, and I can come by in twenty minutes to pick up your order, can you have a $7,500 deposit cheque ready? And we’ll need new creative by the end of the week.

The frightening part is, this scenario, with minor industry variations, is re-enacted by thousands of sales professionals everyday. Anxious to make that one-time kill now that they’ve found your phone number, it somehow gives them license to believe they can bully and harangue you until you place the order. Perhaps they are driven to achieve a specific sales quota by the end of the week/month/quarter and it has to be done NOW, NOW, NOW!

I have worked with too many hardworking, talented sales professionals who are genuinely in it for the long term, to float anything disparaging out there. I enjoy business relationships of a couple of decades with many of them, despite the changes in employers for each of us. It is this commitment to the long-term which has made them prized allies for me.  But I fear they are in the minority as the immediate sale always seems to be the name of the game.

Perhaps if the initial paragraph is too representative of your sales approach, you might consider a longer view of the process - it is a process after all. One of my favourite ads, maybe one of yours too, depicts the power of advance education about your product or service. 

Witness this Timeless Classic ad by McGraw Hill Magazines™*
A rather dour businessman is seated in his office chair, staring back at you.

The copy bullets beside him read:

I don’t know who you are
I don’t know your company.
I don’t know what your company stands for.
I don’t know your company’s customers.
I don’t know your company’s record.
I don’t know your company’s reputation.
Now – what was it you wanted to sell me?

* You can find a copy of this ad in our Magazines article here:

Who wants to buy from you if they’ve never heard of you? Regardless of your product or service, you can never overeducate a client or customer. Don’t hesitate to give them information that helps them by providing a solution which also positions you as an expert resource. The relationship you build with your ads is equally vital. Regardless of which media combinations you choose (yes you should always use more than one form- but that’s another topic-) the conversation in your ads should be the solution they need to the challenge already going on in their own heads.

When this education is in place, the initial paragraph scenario should sound more like:

Thanks for taking my call. Congratulations on winning that new account. How Can I Help?

Stay tuned.

P.S. There is always more synergy, impact, reach and memorability when you use a secondary media instead of just buying more of the first.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014
Jaclyn Law
As a copy editor, I’ve worked with more than a dozen magazines, including consumer, custom, trade and web publications. No matter what category, magazines benefit from a detailed and up-to-date style guide. If you haven’t refreshed yours in a while—or if you don’t have one—this is a great project for the year-end holiday slowdown when you can’t get anyone to answer your emails anyway!

What is a style guide?

It’s a document that outlines the magazine’s “house style”—the preferences in punctuation, grammar, capitalization, word usage and more that editorial staff should follow. Using a style guide improves consistency, saves everyone time and supports your publication’s unique identity and feel. (Note that a style guide isn’t the same thing as writer’s guidelines, which offer broader direction to contributors pitching stories—see EnRoute’s example.)

What makes a good style guide?

I think style guides should offer enough direction without trying to cover everything. The definition of “enough” depends on your magazine; I’ve seen style guides as short as two pages, and some thick enough to require a binder. If you’re building your style guide from scratch, start with the basics that come up frequently, such as punctuation, numbers, capitalization, abbreviations, symbols and place names.

I don’t know anything about this stuff.

You don’t need to invent your own style—look at commonly used reference books such as Canadian Press Stylebook, Canadian Press Caps and Spelling, The Globe and Mail Style Book, Editing Canadian English, The Chicago Manual of Style and, for web stuff, The Yahoo! Style Guide. You could simply adopt one of the first three as your style guide, but you’ll still need to make some decisions, and you’ll want to make at least a few exceptions. Your magazine might even ban certain words and phrases because they’re overused, outdated or offensive—or just because the editor-in-chief can’t stand them. (See examples of words unwelcome at The Washington Post, New York Magazine and

What’s a lexicon?

Many magazines keep a list of words, on its own or as part of a style guide, to save editors the time and trouble of looking them up—or because the words aren’t in the dictionary. This unique vocabulary could include specialty lingo, brand names and celebrities’ names, for example. I love lexicons (yep, I’m a geek) because they’re like a snapshot of a magazine’s essence—a taste of what makes it special.

Where can I find examples of style guides and lexicons?

Here are just a few: The Economist, Faith Today, Film Matters, National Geographic, Carleton University and The Guardian. The ones from Vice and Buzzfeed are even kind of fun to read. You can also find specialized style guides, like the one from the Council of Science Editors. Check out, and Smashing Magazine for more thoughts on style guides.

Do you have thoughts on magazine style guides?

Wednesday, October 29, 2014
Gadget Blog
Martin Seto

The digital lifestyle is now upon us and there is no way to avoid anything that is not connected to the internet. Computers come in many colours, sizes and shapes just like the old fashion print pocket organizers that you can still buy at your local Staples store.


The latest generation of smartphones are getting bigger and can now be considered mini-computers or pocket computers. Just like the pocket organizers, you can get the next size up and get a tablet computer for watching video, reading and games or a laptop to do some emailing, writing or number crunching with. And lastly you can get a monster 70” TV computer for online video. Next on the list coming sooner than we think are wearable computers (too geek for me!) and connected cars to the mainstream.

This is the new norm and the numbers show it, Canada’s digital literacy rates show that Canadians now enjoy a modern digital lifestyle through many devices. The Media Directors Council (2013-2014 report) reports that there are 5.9 million tablets and 20 million smartphones in Canada in 13.3 million HHs. This makes household penetration in Canada with tablets at 45% and smartphones at 150% and growing.

Maybe this is the reason that HP’s tablet plans have changed since their ill fated launch of the HP TouchPad, their first tablet in 2011. HP still remains a tech titan and is ranked second in industry market share for global PC shipments according to IDC at 18.8% in the 3rd Quarter of 2014, Lenovo was 1st (20%), Dell 3rd (13.3%), Acer 4th (8.4%) and Apple in 5th (6.3%) out of total shipments of 78.5M worldwide (1.7% decline from Q3 2013). 

IDC reported that global tablet shipments totalled 53.8M in Q3 (11.5% growth) with Apple 1st (22.8%), 2nd Samsung (18.3%), 3rd. ASUS (6.5%), 4th Lenovo (5.7%), 5th RCA (4.9%). Apple saw it market share shrink from 29.2% in 2013 and saw a 12.8% drop in sales. The numbers shows that in the PC corporate world Window’s machines still dominate and are starting to climb up in the tablet sector,

HP Elite Tablet and Laptop

You don’t see a lot of consumer advertising about HP products as they tend to concentrate in corporate markets for their servers, PCs, tablets and printers. HP did not disappoint when I reviewed their Elite tablet and laptop line for the business user. These are Windows 8 machines and they all came packed with features that you expect on any device on the market. The first thing I did was download Google Chrome that acts as my virtual desktop through my gmail account  to set-up both devices. This virtual desktop includes my email, calendar, bookmarks and cloud storage and it installed fine and can work in desktop mode on both devices.  My daily routine includes using my tablet for my daily news and video entertainment fix and the Elite tablet was a fast device with HD quality video and sound (with my headphones). I used it at the cottage, home and office and the wifi connection was reliable and fast and the screen worked fine in natural sunlight.

I prefer writing on a keyboard, sorry the touch screen keyboard just doesn’t cut it for me, or the tablet accessories. The smaller screen size of a tablet at 10” makes it too small to work with so it is not practical as a everyday work device. I need at least a 13” screen and the Elite laptop I used was 14”. It was nice to use both devices together when I was reading and typing at the same time as it made me more productive. I am a big fan of the two screen workstation and a tablet and laptop combo can still fit in my briefcase when I am on the go. Stacked together, both devices are 1 inch thick.

Rating 4.5 out of 5

HP also has a line of Android tablets available for sale starting at $215 for the 7” model under the Slate product line that is available at Staples and other stores. I fear that tablets in the future might suffer the “Novelty” effect, where the latest toy is discarded with the latest consumer mood swing and this will affect the replacement market. Plus, pocket computer (ie:smartphones) screen sizes are getting bigger and this will impact the adoption of the larger tablets. Since I got my 4” Nokia smartphone I found that I used the tablet less for reading the news.

Monday, November 03, 2014
57 Media Spikes
Dennis Kelly
Glad you stopped by. Recently one client asked me to comment on the potential choice of radio stations in two different markets.  That’s fine. It’s part of what I do and I was glad to respond.

It poses a bit of a quagmire potential because so many factors influence the choice of station(s) for any campaign. Thus I resisted the temptation to jump in without taking a breath and firing any answer off the top of my head. Partly because I had the luxury of this coming via e-mail, it gave me time to consider and digest this question before responding.There’s nothing wrong with crafting a well thought out answer.

In today’s speed at all costs mentality, the cost is very often rushed and incorrect or based on flimsy information.  Which begets having to do it over again to get it right. Therefore I properly researched the two markets in question. Identified the 21 and 8 radio stations per market respectively. Secured a 3rd party industry ranking of how each station was performing based on most recent survey details.

My response to her:

• Commented on the stations she had considered in each market.
• Then provided a more thoroughly researched, articulate, defendable summary.
• This allowed me the confidence to acknowledge her choices, but the empirical backing to state why I believed other stations would be better candidates.

Will any business come of it? Maybe. But that is secondary. I’m continuing to nurture trust with this client. I am building my credibility with her. She needs to know I won’t blindly endorse one opportunity without conducting due diligence on it. Maybe this could be a component of your long-term strategy as well.

Do we want to make the sale? Of course! But we want to ensure we make more than just one sale. You and I each need to educate our clients and prospects about whatever it is they’ve asked about.  Developing this positioning as the Go To ‘Guy’ (or girl) is what will separate you from the other contenders and pretenders. Your clients are coming to you for solutions. Establish yourself as the one who can provide them and you’ll never lack for customers.

Stay tuned.

P.S. Is it more work to cultivate business this way? That depends on what you want to accomplish.

It’s more work to lay the foundation of a long-term relationship and continue to foster growth with professional, smart, informative, helpful solutions so that you are continually enhancing the long-term value of this client. Or, you can develop a new pitch every week for a series of one-time potential successes, but you need to keep going further and further afield to attract new candidates for your once and done approach. Your choice.

Firings, hirings, imminent closures, new launches, fallings-out, alliances—provide the lead in the space below and we’ll get to the bottom of it. While discretion is assured, our Tipline is anonymous.