What’s Your Angle?

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By Carla Foote, Fine Print Editorial

TSA is in the news regularly now, with the summer travel season heating up and lines increasing at many large airports. Media outlets, along with social media, are sharing pictures and videos of long lines waiting to get through security. But how accurate are these reports?

I was at the Denver airport on the Friday before Memorial Day. My daughter and son-in-law had a 2 hour layover, and we were going to meet for lunch if the security lines weren’t too long. I had been watching the security time page on the airport website all morning, seeing times from 15-25 minutes, which didn’t seem excessive. When I arrived at the airport at 10:30 am there was NO line at one of the security checkpoint and a short line at another.

We saw a news reporter and camera person shooting out toward the side with the short line. I wondered out loud, “There’s no line on the other side. Are they going to take a picture of that side too?”

Angle matters – in visuals and in text.

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What makes a good leader? What sets a person apart as the unconventional guide for an organization that will push it to new heights.

Chris Baréz-Brown, a leadership coach with clients that include Nike, Johnson & Johnson, Unilever, Pfizer, and Spotify, says, “Within everyone is a little bit of Elvis: a part of us that’s a maverick, that’s willing to break the rules, to move fast, shake things up, and have fun doing it. What organizations are longing for in their leaders is ‘more Elvis.'”

A good leader doesn’t have to be known for their charisma, but for their creative vision.

“As a leader, you cannot think your way to a 10 out of 10,” says Baréz-Brown. “At best–if you have a smart mind and great research–you might get six. But sixes don’t win the day. The only way to get to 10 out of 10 is to take creative leaps. And such leaps inevitably mean landing on threes.”

By giving your team the freedom and safety to hit threes, your creative leadership gives more room for failing followed by fast learning.

“One of the biggest barriers [to creativity] is fear,” says Ed Catmull, founder and CEO of Pixar. “And while failure comes with the territory, fear shouldn’t have to. The goal, then, is to uncouple fear and failure — to create an environment in which making mistakes doesn’t strike terror into your employees’ hearts.”

Make your goal as a leader to cultivate a culture of creative experimentation and grace, instead of pure success.

“Creativity–that most crucial and most missing ingredient of leaders–can be developed,” says Aaron Orendorff, a columnist for Inc.com. “And you do it through new settings, new people, and–above all–new actions. You can’t change your brain from the inside, but you can change it from the outside.”

Read Aaron Orendorff’s article here

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Magazine Training International gets asked a lot of the same questions about the Crisis Publishing Initiative. Here are some answers to the most common ones:

Q: Where can I get more information about the Crisis Publishing Initiative conference?
A: We provide ongoing updates and information on our website, the event website, and on Facebook, Linked In, and Twitter.

Q: When and where is the conference?
A: The Crisis Publishing Initiative will be held in Sopron, Hungary on 15-18 October, 2017.

Q: Who should attend?
A: Christian journalists, editors, publishers, and bloggers from around the world who want to know how best to meet the challenges of a world increasingly impacted by crises of all kinds, from terrorism to war to natural disasters.

Q: Where can I register? 
A: Registration are being accepted. Fill out the registration form here.

Q: Is there any financial assistance available to help me attend the conference?
A: Yes! From January 1 until April 15, 2017 our Sunrise special discounted registration/tuition is $335. From April 16 to July 15 it is $380, and from July 16 until October 15 registration is full price, $450. The registration/tuition includes a reception and supper on Oct. 15, lunches and coffee breaks Oct. 16-18, and a banquet on Oct. 18, as well as materials. We are also offering partial scholarships for participants in Eastern Europe, Asia, and the Global South. The scholarship covers half of the tuition and half of the cost of room and board for the conference. It does not cover travel expenses.

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.