Interning With Four Letter Word

When the opportunity to intern for a start-up arose, I knew I had to take it.

TwoCoversDuring the second trimester of my MSc Magazine Publishing course, the creators of new Four Letter Word came to speak at Edinburgh Napier. When the opportunity to intern for a start-up arose, I knew I had to take it.

Before coming to Edinburgh Napier University to pursue my MSc in magazine publishing, I worked as an associate editor for a B2B publishing company in the United States. Prior to that, I did several internships at various consumer and trade publishing companies. They all had one thing in common – that was that they had been in business for decades.

There are lots of pros to being with a longstanding, established company, of course, of which I won’t go into detail.

But the defined structure that exists and helps a company to thrive also presents a few challenges for a newcomer. Continue reading “Interning With Four Letter Word”

Magfest: The Perfect Start to Your MSc.

As my fellow students gather data and research their dissertations in the final trimester, I find myself looking back to the start of this frantic, informative and fully immersive course. September last year was the beginning of the MSc Publishing and MSc Magazine Publishing courses – and not just because it was induction week.
A few days prior was Magfest #03, Innovation – a magazine-centric, one day conference run by PPA Scotland, the membership organisation for magazine publishers. Located at Surgeon’s Hall in Edinburgh, this jam-packed celebration of all-things magazine publishing was the perfect gateway to this fast-paced, ever evolving career path.

On arrival, I was alone, completely new to publishing and not entirely familiar with Edinburgh. Little did I know how much impact the next eight hours would have. Greeted by some of last years’ graduates, I was introduced to some of the strategic partners including representatives from Allander Print, 20/20 Productions and Virgin Atlantic (planes will be surprisingly relevant to your publishing career). Upstairs, some of my future colleagues were finishing off a special networking workshop with Heather Campbell (CommsMasters) and I bumped into the first of many at the Edinburgh Napier stand, laden with copies of 2014’s buzz magazine and iPads featuring Publishers Inc 2014. Then my education began – straight in at the deep end with people and faces I had never heard of, but would swiftly learn their importance in the industry.


Ellis Watson, CEO of DC Thomson
The day centred around several keynote events in the largest hall, with smaller breakout sessions throughout the day, all interspersed with ample refreshments and comfort breaks. Speakers included Ellis Watson (DC Thomson) and Diane Kenwood (Woman’s Weekly), Chris Phin (MacFormat) and excitingly for me, Wyatt Mitchell (The New Yorker). There were panels discussing industry troubleshooting, the definition of magazines and their evolution (James Brown being his own brand of adult entertainment). Suffice it to say the theme of ‘innovation’ was thoroughly explored, and I left with a great feeling of being in the right place at the right time.


Wyatt Mitchell of The New Yorker
 The magazine publishing community is strong and supportive, interested in sharing their ideas and blazing new trails. It was clear that this was a time of opportunity and that Magfest is and will continue to be a hub for many of the best innovators and businesses in magazine publishing. The MSc courses are all about opportunity – and being involved in Magfest is one of them. Volunteers and ideas are always welcomed by Nikki Simpson, who represents PPA Scotland and may often be found behind piles of magazines at Merchiston Campus and presenting guest lectures. 

James Brown expands our vocabulary…
September 18th is Magfest #04 – Create Inspire Evolve. To MSc Publishing and MSc Magazine Publishing students old and new, I cannot recommend this event more. Come and meet us (we’re super friendly!) and get your face ‘out there’ early, because the rewards of being proactive from the get-go are immeasurable.
Nikki Simpson, PPA Scotland… look out for her at Merchiston Campus!


Magazines, Brochures and a drop of Whiskey: My Placement at White Light Media



Throughout my undergraduate degree in graphic design, I never knew exactly which area of graphic design I wanted to focus on. After researching the MSc Magazine Publishing course at Edinburgh Napier University and being awarded an unconditional offer of admission, my ambition in my career as an Art Editor for magazines quickly came to be. Part of the reason I applied for the course, was not only to learn different areas within the magazine industry, but also to gain some experience in the workplace as an Art Editor.

It was after reading a former students blog that inspired me to have White Light Media as my first choice for placement. Like myself her interest in the design side of the business was her main focus in magazines. She stated how she wanted to develop her creativity, and that this led to many tasks, including designing spreads for live projects. This was something I was very keen to learn myself. Her placement also allowed her to work on Hot Rum Cow, the magazine that sparked my initial interest in White Light Media. It was this similarity in developing our skills as a designer that cemented my decision to choose White Light Media as a work placement.


On the first day I was invited to attend the Monday morning briefing, a weekly occurrence, essential in showing the team what everybody is working on and how far along he or she are. It is also where individuals are assigned new projects. It was decided then that my first task would be to assist in an important project for the Edinburgh International Book Festival.

After the briefing, Managing Director Eric Campbell and I had a meeting where we decided what I wanted to learn from my time with White Light. A week before hand, Eric asked me to bring in a couple of magazines that I liked the design of, and we spent a short period of time going through them and comparing notes. We then went through a list of objectives that I wanted to achieve within my time there. I also made it clear that I wanted to learn as much as possible, and pick up any things that might be useful in my future career.

The first week of working at White Light Media was an amazing experience as I got to work on creative concepts for the brochure alongside the design team and help produce something that I can say I played a part in creating. Throughout this week, the team of designers, were always on hand if I had any questions, they continuously gave advice. The first week of my placement was exciting as on the Saturday it was World Whisky Day, and White Light had organized a whole week of events to celebrate.


In my list of key objectives I had stated that I was very eager to work on Hot Rum Cow, and the rest of the second week I got to design spreads for a couple of pages. This was a perfect task for myself as I also got to illustrate for the magazine also. Hot Rum Cow also enabled me to work with other members of the team that I hadn’t been given the chance to work with previously. All of the members of staff, which I worked alongside, taught me a variety of new aspects of design, which I can now take with me and use to help develop my career.

White Light Media was a major success as not only did I learn a vast amount of new skills, but I also got the feel of how it is to work for a magazine publisher in an office during regular working hours. The team at White Light was a pleasure to work with and they not only made me fell very welcome, but all took the time to help me grow my talents as a designer.

Bothies and Trig Points: My Placement at CMYK Design


When it came to choosing a company for my placement, I was really lucky to get a place with CMYK Design. CMYK Design is based in Edinburgh and covers all areas within publishing including producing magazines, newsletters, design, advertising sales and distribution. I knew that a placement with this company would be a great opportunity to take on new, unfamiliar roles and experience various aspects of a publishing house.

Before starting the placement, my main objective was to get more experience in Editorial. CMYK produces a number of publications and I got the opportunity to work on their Scotland Outdoors magazine. I researched and wrote about upcoming outdoor events for the magazine’s website. (There are lots of outdoor events in Scotland!) I wrote about featured competitions, proofread a few spreads, contacted photographers for images to be used in the next issue of the magazine and contributed to their regular e-newsletter. I also got the opportunity to interview people, for articles on the website, including an Outdoor Camping feature and a feature celebrating the 20th anniversary of the National Cycle Network.

As well as that, I gained insight into other areas of the company including learning how to use the database, researching potential advertisers and handling subscriptions. I learned about the various social media accounts of Scotland Outdoors and how a combination of different aspects can drive traffic to the website and reach new readers. I also got the chance to work on InDesign and prepare magazine spreads and received some handy tips from Neil, the owner, on how to photoshop a penguin. (It made sense in that particular spread!)

I really enjoyed my placement at CMYK and found the whole experience very positive and informative to my future career. The team are extremely welcoming and there is always an opportunity to ask questions and learn more from the company. And, thankfully, there was never a shortage of tea and cakes!

Visit to Dennis Publishing

As part of our southerly excursion to the London Book Fair, last week our MSc Magazine Publishing and a few MSc Publishing students had the privilege of a visit to Dennis Publishing, based in Central London.

As the 6th largest magazine publisher in the UK, Dennis also has offices in Glasgow (home of The Big Issue) and a strong  footing in the USA, where they are best known for their current affairs and news magazine, The Week. Throw into the mix their own subscription company and you can imagine how excited we were to be welcomed into their board room, with stunning views over London and a delightful selection of refreshments.

The first part of our morning was dedicated to a matter close to our hearts – how to get past the eagle-eyed recruitment officer and into the world of publishing employment. Leti Taylor supplied us with ample advice, from the structure of our CVs to the best ways to make early contact with the companies you want to work with. The importance of having some kind of online portfolio and social media presence was highlighted (and yes, it’s ok to be occasionally tipsy in those Facebook photos). Even interviews that don’t work out are a positive experience. Remember you’re essentially networking and any feedback you can get from an unsuccessful interview will serve to make the next one more impressive.

Next up in the packed schedule was Tim Danton, Editor in Chief of PC Pro and Editorial Director and Deputy MD of Dennis Technology. Tim talked us through the challenges and pitfalls of starting a new venture, in this case, an online magazine that Dennis will be launching in the near future. We discussed the essential check boxes for pitching a new magazine to the bosses (one of the most important being ‘is it economically viable?’), how digital magazine audiences differ from readers of print magazines and how it’s always good to make a decision “even if it’s wrong”. Ultimately, readerships and maintaining a trusting relationship should be put ahead of all other considerations when running your magazine.

Joel Snape, Acting Editor of Men’s Fitness gave us an intellectual workout as we discussed the challenges of adapting magazines to meet the needs of evolving audiences and compensate for the internet being the font of all knowledge. Introducing readers to new ideas and new products, asking questions that they might not have even considered asking and presenting data in digestible and fun ways were highlights. Picking your battles and not meeting competitors head-on were interesting considerations for the students, as we were encouraged to identify what we do best and do it well, whilst filling niches and keeping in touch with the readership.

Back to digital with Holden Frith, Online Editor of, as we discussed how editorial, writing styles and the types of news reported differs a great deal between the print and online editions of this popular international magazine. We discussed the loyalty of readers in print and online and how though a readership might be much greater on the internet, it can be more difficult to connect as many of them may be one-time hits.

Finally, brains well-past full, Julian Lloyd-Evans, MD of Advertising, talked us through the importance of creating communities for readerships and advertisers alike. Encouraging us to love media, engage fully with our passions and  to have an opinion, it was food for thought when we considered the £6bn spend on UK advertising every year and our £2bn worth of media exports overseas. A short personality test later, we were all keen when we heard about Dennis’ 12 week paid internships.

We’d like to express our thanks to the team at Dennis Publishing for making us so welcome and sharing such valuable insights into the world of publishing.

This was one of many fantastic opportunities provided by the course leaders of the MSc Publishing and MSc Magazine Publishing courses at Edinburgh Napier University.

Publishers Inc 2015


A new year sees a new team working on Edinburgh Napier’s MSc Publishing App. You can find out more about the app and the team, including exclusive behind-the-scenes articles here:

Work Placement: CMYK Design

Neil, Matt, Charlie, Hayley and Ruby
Neil, Matt, Charlie, Hayley and Ruby

When selecting a company for work placement there was no doubt in my mind which publishers I wanted to go to. CMYK Design was my first choice for a number of reasons.

First of all, I had met Neil Braidwood, the founder of CMYK, back in January at our Burns night networking event. His enthusiasm and genuine interest regarding the upcoming production of Buzz magazine was energising and I was intrigued to learn more about his company. Secondly, after researching the company and attending a lecture given by Neil and Don, the Editor, it became apparent that CMYK is a busy and successful contract publisher with a wide range of publications such as Scotland Outdoors, Aurora, The Keeper and Our People.

On my first day I was introduced to Neil, the rest of the team and an excitable springer spaniel named Ruby.  I was provided with a desk beside Hayley, the Advertising Executive and previous Napier publishing student, who delegated many of the tasks that I undertook during my placement.  She was there to offer support, answer any queries and informed me of some handy tips when contacting relevant companies.

I was assigned an assortment of tasks throughout the ten days varying from rewriting and compiling contact details from a stockist spread sheet to sourcing events for the Scotland Outdoors website.  I was also given the opportunity to contact companies for an e-newsletter and to research and write up copy for a small feature intended for the summer edition of Aurora; ‛10 Things to do in Munich’.

I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at CMYK and not only found the tasks to be informative and useful to my future career but also satisfying as I have more than fulfilled the objectives I had initially set out to achieve.

It was a great environment to work in and everyone made me feel really welcome, especially Ruby who was there to enthusiastically greet me at the door on a morning. The team are a hard-working, friendly bunch and have a passion for chocolates, cakes and lots of tea.  So not only have I accomplished the aims that I set out to achieve but my sweet tooth has also been fully satisfied.

If you want to find out more about CMYK, follow them on Twitter @WeMakeMags and visit their website