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The Storytellers

'Brand storytelling' has become a big talking point in comms and marketing. Some brands are good at it, while others struggle. So what can we learn from people who have always embraced the idea of storytelling – people from the world of theatre, writing, comedy and magic?

On Thursday 23 April, 100 select guests are joining us at the Scottish Storytelling Centre on Edinburgh's Royal Mile for The Storytellers – our annual White Light Media Summit.

Speakers include the founding director of the National Theatre of Scotland, Simon Sharkey, web psychologist Nathalie Nahai, video strategist Phil Nottingham, magician Kevin McMahon, comedic storyteller Fiona Herbert and writer David Campbell. There will also be talks from several members of the White Light Media team. And we'll be launching issue two of Poppy, our journal of brain food for communicators in finance.

Brands joining us on the day include Standard Life, RBS, Virgin Money, Aegon, Equiniti, Sainsbury's Bank, Skyscanner, BAE, Howden, Edinburgh International Conference Centre, Edinburgh BioQuarter, the Financial Times, the Scotch Whisky Association, the Food Standards Agency, Visit Scotland and the Scottish Government.

For nuggets of wisdom from the day itself, follow #WLMSummit15 on Twitter. see detail →

What we learnt from Magfest

Friday’s sell-out Magfest event in Edinburgh drew together an international cast of publishing experts for a feeding frenzy of inspirational ideas and insights. The day abounded with wisdom, humour and a generosity of shared experience. Here are 10 gems that inspired and/or amused us on the day:

1 I don’t believe in doing what people ‘expect’ from design. It’s better to make people happy or angry than to have no reaction.
Wyatt Mitchell, The New Yorker

2 A great strategy is nothing without a supportive culture. Culture eats strategy for breakfast.
Ciarán O’Toole, TeamRock

3 Why is there this idea that magazines for older people have to look dull?
Diane Kenwood, Woman’s Weekly

4 In revitalising our teen title Shout, we struck deals with the likes of Primark and New Look. If young readers no longer come to you – you must take the product to them.
Maria Welch, DC Thomson

5 Know your customers. We have customer personas up on the wall to keep our writers focused on who our readers are.
Tim Arthur, Time Out Group

6 We’re experts at creating emotional responses, regardless of format. That’s the opportunity. But the most important thing is not what you put in, it’s what you leave out.
Andy Cowles, Publishing Consultant

7 We are storytellers. We work in one of the few industries that is inherently about storytelling.
Peter Houston, The Magazine Diaries

8 Good sub-editors make or break a magazine – they oil the contents with straplines and captions.
James Brown, Sabotagency

9 Magazines are a point of coalescence for shared passions. Lose that and we’re screwed. Chris Phin, MacFormat

10 We, the journalists and creators, unearth the content and have the authority. The Internet just curates it. We are not, my lovelies, selling Betamax video recorders. We should be really excited by that.
Ellis Watson, DC Thomson
see detail →

10 gems from The Modern Magazine

“The best magazines are achieving more than ever before,” said Jeremy Leslie of, kicking off the Modern Magazine, an inspirational conference for the new generation of magazine makers.

White Light Media was in the audience for a day of fascinating insight from free-spirited publishers, designers and editors bringing passion, creativity and a much-needed kick up the butt to the magazine establishment.

There were many highlights, but here are 10 (paraphrased) gems of observation that stood out for us.

1 We live in a pessimistic era but creativity always prevails. While we still connect as people, magazines will always have a future.
Justine Picardie, Harper’s Bazaar

2 Monocle has flourished by thinking differently and embracing the ‘consultancy of common sense’. Many big publishers have encouraged a creep of consultants onto the editorial floor figuring out how to monetise content, but focus groups never lead to interesting editorial solutions.
Tyler Brûlé, Monocle

3 We have big plans to expand digitally in 2014, including the launch of a paywall-protected travel site. But print remains at the heart of our strategy. There’s a permanence and gravitas about print that I'm perpetually drawn to.
Rosa Park, Cereal

4 London Mayor Ken Livingstone used to have a saying: ‘Seven million Londoners, one London’. What a load of bollocks. We focus on the individual rather than the group.
Davey Spens, Boat

5 Often when a client comes to us and asks for a new typeface, the first thing we do is to persuade them that they don't want a new typeface.
Paul Barnes, typography consultant

6 Many modern magazines are more like books. I walk round WH Smith and, instead of looking at the covers, I look at the thickness of their spines. By their spines, ye shall know them.
Simon Esterson, Eye

7 Intelligent content is at the heart of our success – it's amazing how many magazines are made not to be read. People love The Gentlewoman because it provides an oasis of thoughtful reading. Digital is so intertwined with our working lives that it's the thief of time.
Penny Martin, The Gentlewoman

8 You need 1,000 true fans to make a sustainable magazine and 5,000 to start making a living.
David Jacobs, 29th Street Publishing

9 Issue by issue, Colors magazine explores themes such as ‘shit’, ‘happiness’ and ‘apocalypse’, all underpinned by a belief that: ‘globalisation = diversity = good’.
Patrick Waterhouse, Colors
[Political leaders around the globe, please subscribe today.]

10 Basically, I just steal other people's ideas.
Richard Turley, Bloomberg Businessweek
see detail →

Dive in to Strathclyde People

Seven years after going to the University of Strathclyde with a proposal for a genuinely effective biannual alumni marketing magazine, we have just published the 14th issue of Strathclyde People – which earlier this year was voted Digital Magazine of the Year at the IoIC Scotland Awards, and shortlisted in the Scottish Magazine Awards. We now produce a print version and a Flash-based digital version of the magazine that together reach more than 100,000 alumni all over the world. The team at White Light Media writes and designs all the content, and builds the digital version. The latest issue features an interview with Olympic swimmer and Strathclyde student Robbie Renwick. see detail →

Hot Rum Cow is launched

It's official. We've launched Hot Rum Cow, our own brilliant new magazine about adventures in the world of drinking. Copies are available from selected newsagents, but you can order one direct by ordering from our website – which also now contains a palate-teasing taster of full-length articles from the magazine and lots of information about issue one. Alternatively, if you prefer the iPad option, an app version is available from iTunes. Hot Rum Cow is an independent, quarterly magazine, owned by White Light Media. Each issue celebrates, the history and personalities behind outstanding beers, wines and spirits. We think you'll enjoy it. Cheers! see detail →

Belgian collaboration

What a brilliant week we have had, with one corner of the office transformed into Little Belgium. Willem, Frank and Kim from leading Belgian content marketing agency Het Salon have been working with us on an exciting collaborative project, to be revealed later in the month. In the meantime, here is a great animation they have put together: How To Build Relationships see detail →

More awards

Another night of black tie triumph for White Light Media as we scooped two of the top trophies at this year's IoIC Awards in Glasgow. Strathclyde People (for University of Strathclyde) won Best Digital Magazine and The Exova Magazine (Exova) won Best Employee Magazine. It's the second year running that we've picked up these two awards. Standard, the digital magazine we publish for Standard Life, was Highly Commended, and Finance Community for Royal Bank of Scotland and The Equiniti Magazine for Equiniti were also both shortlisted. see detail →

Double award triumph

We scooped two of the top gongs at this week's Scottish Magazine Awards. The Exova Magazine won Best Staff Magazine (the third year in a row we have won the category) and Life (for Lloyds Banking Group) won Best Digital Magazine.

We dominated the digital category with three of the four shortlisted entries (including Strathclyde People for University of Strathclyde and Conference Call for EICC). Edit, the magazine we design for University of Edinburgh, was also shortlisted in the Best Customer Magazine category. see detail →

150 years of forecasting

As part of its celebrations of 150 years of weather forecasting, the Met Office has commissioned White Light Media to create a fun, interactive and informative timeline for its website. Take a look to find out how weather forecasting helped us win the War – and the truth behind the 'not so barbecue summer' of 2009.
see detail →

Strathclyde People goes digital

Our run of high-profile digital magazine launches continues with a new multi-media edition of Strathclyde People, our alumni magazine for the University of Strathclyde. We’ve been writing and designing Strathclyde People for six years, but this year we were appointed to create a biannual digital edition to sit alongside the print version. The result is an animated and engaging magazine embedded with video, photo galleries, and interactive features. See the magazine online. see detail →

EICC goes digital

We’ve worked with Edinburgh International Conference Centre for a decade, writing and designing Conference Call magazine. Conference Call has always moved with the times and this May, we relaunched it in a custom-built digital format that reflects the innovative qualities of the EICC. See the magazine online. see detail →

White Light Media wins IoIC Gold

White Light Media swept the board at Friday's IoIC Scotland awards. We won six awards, including the overall Gold prize for the outstanding project of the year. That honour went to Life, our online magazine for Lloyds Banking Group, which also won Best Ezine, Best Use Of Interactive Media and Best Redesign. Our other big success story of the night was the magazine we publish for Exova, which won Best Employee Magazine and Best Use Of Photography. Creative Cities, a design project for Channel Four, also won a Highly Commended Award. The IoIC (Institute of Internal Communications) celebrates excellence in corporate communications. see detail →

RCN campaign unveiled

Following our appointment this summer, we've completed the first tranche of the Royal College of Nursing Scotland's marketing materials for the 2011 Scottish Parliamentary elections. The 'Nursing Scotland's Future' campaign is designed to push health and nursing issues to the forefront of the election debate. We created the logo and brand for the campaign, which we then applied to a wide range of direct mail and merchandise, and helped apply to the campaign website. see detail →