The Snowball Effect: Ideas at Your Fingertips

Posted by: Kerri Johnson

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had an affinity for magazines. It started with Highlights Magazine in elementary school and continued through junior high when I would steal my big sister’s copies of Seventeen. My best friend and I would spend countless sleepovers combing through our own copies of YM (Young & Modern) and Sassy, comparing and contrasting our own private school experiences with those we were reading about (spoiler alert: they were not comparable).

As a young wife and mother, I transitioned into reading Canadian Living and Chatelaine, and then I was introduced to local magazines. (Why it took this long, I’ll never know.) 

It thrilled me to realize that I could pick up a magazine and read about what was going on in my own city. As a Journalism graduate, it’s fair to say I should have realized this right from the start, but I didn’t, and let’s just move on.

I started to acquaint myself with the industry, subsequently accepted the role of editor-in-chief of three Alberta magazines and fell in love with the process of bringing ideas to the pages and into the hands of the readers.

Now as associate publisher of Your McMurray Magazine and YMM Parent I have the opportunity to dive in and participate in almost every step of the process.

What’s the Big Idea?

At Balsom Communications we have assembled a team of super-creative and diverse minds, and these minds are what come together and start forming a plan…like a wee little snowball. And the longer the team brainstorms, the bigger the snowball gets, until it’s a giant run-away snowball that triggers an avalanche.

The next step is to start sifting through ideas and refining them, handing out assignments to writers and photographers, and getting excited about what we’re building together as a team.

Crunch Time

Whether print media or broadcast media, deadlines are dictators. With lots of moving pieces involving contributors, advertisers, designers, printers, and distributors, it’s imperative that everyone pulls through in the predetermined timelines. 

First up we have editorial content and ad sales deadlines. These elements are what help determine our page counts, which is key information for our printer. As the writers submit their articles, our editor-in-chief, Dawn Booth, carefully edits the pieces and gets them ready for pagination. 

The design team also works with advertisers to ensure that their ads have the exact look and feel advertisers were envisioning during this time.

Next up is our ad creative deadline. Many advertisers like to submit their ads print-ready, and this little bit of extra time gives their design teams time to work their magic, and to get their ads to us.

Our third step is the overall magazine layout/design. Andrew Johnstone, our lead designer who has been with us since the start in 2012, takes all of the ads, articles, and photographs, and builds a beautiful and unique edition of the magazine. 

As the fourth step in the process, our team starts proofing the magazine. Each of us scrubs each page with our eyes, taking meticulous notes about each change that needs to be made, large or small. Once one round of proofing has been done Andrew then implements all of the edits and changes and provides the team with a fresh version. And then we all do it again until there are no more changes to be made. Sometimes the proofing stage happens three or four times.

Once the magazine is perfect, the files are sent to the printer and the team takes a beat to catch our breath and unglaze our eyes. It’s during this time, too, that our web team begins to develop the online content that complements the printed content.

On Stands

Finally, the printed magazines are delivered to the various newsstands around town, but not before one of us snaps a photo of the cover and excitedly texts it out to the rest of the team. As the magazine hits the stands, our team rolls it all out on social media, too. 

And then?

And then we get ready to do it all again. As Your McMurray Magazine and YMM Parent have evolved, we’ve created different programs such as our Best of YMM – Readers’ Choice, Top 20 Under 20, Top 50 Under 50, and YMM Builders, all of which are featured in editions of the magazine throughout the year each year. These programs, like the magazine, are full of moving parts that require us to be constantly juggling and planning and forming those wee little snowballs. 


Our Best of YMM – Reader’s Choice edition will be hitting the stands near the start of April. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram to know exactly when to snag your copy!