Yes, you’re publishing in the midst of crisis

midst of crisis
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Why should I attend the Crisis Publishing Initiative? I’m not publishing in the midst of crisis.

Really? Are your readers impacted by fears of terrorism? Or are they concerned about the influx of refugees into the country? Do they worry about the increase in violent crimes in their cities or the political turmoil in the country next door? Were they affected by the last flood, earthquake, or typhoon?

Face it. You are publishing in the midst of crisis, whether or not your publication reflects that fact.

Are you helping your readers understand what is really going on? Are you giving them the information they need to respond to the crises around them as Christians? Or are they dependent on solely secular sources for often biased information and angry, strident voices for opinion?

crisisYou have a special responsibility as a Christian writer, photographer, blogger, or publisher. You have been given a platform from which you can proclaim the truth and offer the resources Christians need in order to be light and salt in a chaotic and unhappy world.

Your writing and your publication can reflect an awareness of the realities of a broken world and offer hope and a way forward to your readers. If you are doing this already, you are to be congratulated. You are in a worthy minority.

But if you are concerned that your publication has been ignoring the suffering, fear, and ignorance of a large part of your audience or your potential audience, you might want to consider attending the Crisis Publishing Initiative in Sopron, Hungary, Oct. 15-18, 2017. Veteran journalists will share their secrets for getting to the truth in dangerous and chaotic circumstances. You’ll get access to resources to help the church respond to the crises around them. And, you’ll meet and share with other Christians in publishing from around the world.


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It is time to empower your employees! Give them helpful feedback during performance reviews.

  1. Start by giving each employee performance goals. These are critical so that both the employee and employer are on the same page. The goals should include what you want your employee to do, and when it should be done.
  2. If you want to give better feedback, forget the numerical performance indicators and focus on actionable, meaningful insights instead. In other words, don’t rate your employee’s actions on a scale of 1-10, but go into detail about their strengths, areas for improvement, and goals for the future.
  3. Tailor your feedback to the recipient. The level of experience can dictate the best type of feedback to give a person. Experts are likely to respond better to negative feedback, while more inexperienced or entry-level individuals need more positive feedback to boost their confidence. Keep this in mind when giving feedback, and remember that a one-size-fits-all approach isn’t the best way to encourage change and improvement.
  4. Use clear, simple statements about how and why your employee can improve.
  5. Conduct the evaluation in a relaxed and private setting. People are more likely to listen and accept the feedback if they don’t feel like they are being attacked. If you make a review feel more like an open discussion you’ll see better results down the line.
  6. Make feedback a part of your company’s culture. Conduct staff evaluations at least once a year.
  7. Be forward-thinking. By adding the word ‘yet’ to the end of a statement, you can turn a piece of negative criticism into constructive, growth-minded feedback.
  8. Make sure your feedback is actionable or you won’t see results.
  9. Turn the evaluation into a conversation. This will help the employee begin to think critically about their own performance. Download a “Self-appraisal questionnaire.”
  10. Ultimately, giving better feedback is all about having the right intentions. If you’re taking the time to discuss someone’s performance with them, it should be because you want to see them succeed and achieve even more.

Read more on this subject.

Download our free “How to Work with People” e-book for more tips.

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By Carla Foote, Fine Print Editorial

A recent client project involved taking a donor magazine with national distribution and creating custom content for specific geographical areas. We created 5 issues for major metropolitan areas, plus a “general” issue that mailed to everyone else.

Custom content is an efficient way to hone a message for an audience segment. While this client chose to customize based on geography, you can customize content based on any attribute in your database, such as age or gender segments.

The Process

Customizing content begins with a strategy, not logistics. While there are many logistics involved, the overall strategy has to drive the editorial and design decisions. As we began the planning process, we met to affirm the purpose of the magazine and to consider how the magazine strategy would be strengthened by custom content.

Once the strategy was in place, then logistics were the focus. We generated several potential scenarios, getting bids from the printer and mail house. Eventually we settled on creating custom content for the first two and last two pages in the magazine. This gave each issue a custom cover and inside story, along with custom content on the inside back cover and back cover promotional space.

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reading level
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When people pick up something they can’t understand, they put it down again. You want your magazine to be read and comprehended. Part of knowing your readers includes knowing what grade level to write at.

The general rule of thumb is to write for a 8th-grade reading level when writing for the general population. Many popular novels are written at a 7th-grade reading level, while the average newspaper in the U.S. is an 11th-grade level. Knowing your audience’s degree of literacy is important.

You put a lot of work into each magazine article, so make sure your readers can understand them. Do some research to find out what grade level your writing should be at for your audience.

There are a few ways to discover what reading level you are writing at:

  • This free tool allows you to paste your text into the readability scorer and get an instant analysis.
  • For Mac users, Word uses the Flesch Reading Ease scale. To use this tool, click Preferences on the Word menu; under “Authoring and Proofing Tools,” click “Spelling and Grammar”; under “Grammar,” select the “Check Grammar with Spelling” check box; select the “Show Readability Statistics” check box; click “OK.” Then, on the “Tools” menu, click “Spelling and Grammar.” After Word finishes checking spelling and grammar, it displays information about the reading level of your document.
  • For PC users, click the “File” tab; then click “Options;” click “Proofing;” under “When correcting spelling and grammar in Word” select the “Check grammar with spelling” check box; select “Show readability statistics.”

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by Robert C. Pozen, Harvard Business Review

To be an effective manager, you need to be skilled at giving out both praise and criticism. While praise is easy to give, it is far more challenging and unpleasant to criticize your employees. Yet the practice of management requires you to occasionally show employees where they need to improve. Thus, it is vital for managers to learn how and when to give negative feedback.

The first thing to realize is that people generally respond more strongly to negative events than positive ones. In other words, we are usually more upset about losing $100 than we are happy about winning $100. In fact, in an influential book, John Gottman (now a Professor Emeritus at the University of Washington) suggested that positive interactions must outnumber negative interactions by at least five to one in order for a marriage to succeed.

This observation is also true in the workplace, as Professor Andrew Miner (then of the University of Minnesota) and colleagues discovered in a study published in 2005. They recorded employees’ moods several times each day and, each time, asked them if any events (such as a positive interaction with a co-worker) had occurred within the past few hours.

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MTI Online is one of the greatest tools at your disposal. It is a free, members-only section on our website.

A new member said it best, “Your online library has resources that answer almost all the questions I’ve been asking myself for over a decade as a publisher.”

By joining MTI Online you will have unlimited, free access to:

  • e-books about editing, writing, management, and design
  • video training sessions on design and management
  • recordings of all of our on-demand webinars
  • the Community Forum, where you can connect with others in magazine publishing around the world

Become a member today and find out what MTI Online can offer you.

employee evaluations
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“Evaluations help us see where we were, and plan where to go.”

Throughout the weeks, we’ve learned how to communicate our expectations with employees more clearly. But how can an employer track the progress and improvement of their workers?

Answer: employee evaluations. While at first the phrase has an air of doom around it, evaluations are beneficial for both the company and the employee.

Employee evaluations help us:
–examine the quality of our work (strengths)
–identify trouble areas (room for improvement)
–set goals for future performance and growth opportunities (goals)

5 keys to conducting efficient employee evaluations:

  1. Praise strengths first. A person may not hear or value input from an employer who starts the meeting with attacks or negativity.
  2. Be honest about areas of weakness. If one task is consistently difficult for an employee, consider investing in training opportunities and/or reassigning the responsibility.
  3. Have evaluations at least once a year. In order to track improvement, keep all evaluations in the employee’s file and make it a priority to meet at least once a year. Meeting annually also helps remind employees of their duties and goals.
  4. Conduct evaluations in a relaxed and private setting.
  5. Use a consistent evaluation form, and always give the staff member a copy of the completed form when the meeting is finished.

If you’re wondering how to begin an employee evaluation, or if you’d like to see an example, click to view a current evaluation form.

We hope these resources will allow you to conduct better evaluations, and help your employees reach their goals.

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By Ellen Harvey, Publishing Executive

New technology comes with a lot of hype, particularly when discussed in the context of how it can “save” publishing. Remember when digital magazines were supposed to kill print and drive even more revenue for publishers? As it turns out, print is still alive and well, and the platforms that once supported the digital magazine’s rise are now defunct, like Apple Newsstand, or stagnant. Of course, there are real changes happening in the publishing industry thanks to new technology. Some of those changes are positive for publishers, some negative, but in order to find solutions that actually make an impact on their bottom line, publishers need to question their assumptions and cut through the hot air surrounding new tech.

We all need a reality check every once in a while, especially in an industry that is transforming as rapidly as publishing. That was the goal of our technology summit, FUSE: The Convergence of Technology & Media, which was held in Philadelphia on September 12-14. The tech-centric discussions challenged attendees to question the hype and learn from publishers who actually implemented new solutions and found success. Here are five reality checks publishers should bear in mind when they consider the latest and greatest in media technology, courtesy of FUSE:

1. Digital ad revenue is actually shrinking for publishers. The digital advertising industry continues to grow by leaps and bounds each year, and is now a $59.6 billion business. That means publishers digital ad revenue must be growing, right? Wrong. In his opening keynote, conference chair Jeffrey Litvack explained that publishers’ digital ad revenue actually shrunk 2% last year. While overall digital ads are growing, the majority of revenue, $7 out of every $10 earned, is going to Google and Facebook. Litvack added that despite these challenges, publishers do have some advantages over the two tech giants. Unlike Facebook and Google, publishers create valuable content, and according to a recent comScore study, ads on premium publishers’ sites drove more brand lift and had greater viewability than when those same ads were featured on a non-publisher sites. Publishers need to find better ways to communicate this value to advertisers in order to reverse digital declines.

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In order to learn more about subscribers, most magazines use some form of research. The results of the surveys are used in various ways:

  • Editors use information gained by surveys to find out how to more effectively serve readers.
  • The advertising department uses the information in dealing with prospective advertisers.
  • The circulation department may use the information in making decisions as to how to obtain new subscribers.

Surveys are disseminated in several ways. Some are printed in the magazine, while others are sent to a select number of subscribers in a separate mailing. Normally, when magazines mail surveys to subscribers, a cover letter is included, and sometimes a reminder postcard is mailed later.

Are you ready to get started and gain valuable information about your readers and what they need? Take a look at our samples of reader surveys now for inspiration.

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“Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6

Publishing a magazine is hard work. Discouragement can set in. No matter what your circumstances as a publisher include, (the size of your staff, the level of persecution you endure as a Christian, the demands on your finances, governmental restrictions, time constraints, lack of experience, health problems, difficulty in day-to-day operations, and more) producing a periodical is tough.

You felt God’s calling to be a part of the magazine and you have seen his hand at work in it, but you are weary and tired. It is our goal at MTI to provide you with training and resources that will lighten the burden, but ultimately it is God that will carry you through. He promises throughout scripture that your load will be light if you give it to him. He knows what you are going through and he will continue his work in you and in your magazine. When discouragement sets in, claim the confidence he offers that he is not done with you yet.