Sandy Says: What It Takes to Be the Best

April 3, 2012
Everyone wants to think they’re the best at what they do. The problem is convincing everyone else.

I recently compared my magazine to a competitor. Initially, I did it as a personal exercise to see what I could learn from them, what good ideas I could “steal.” Granted, I only compared one issue of their magazine with one of mine, but in my opinion, there was no comparison.

Our staff-written and contributed articles utilized expert opinion, excellent writing, outstanding advice and eye-catching graphics to create an attractive and informative editorial package. The other magazine was, well, blah.

That’s not always the case; I often am impressed by editorial content produced by my competitors and I have a lot of respect for the editors of the other magazines. Anyone can have a bad day, and certainly magazines can have a bad month. I’ve produced a couple of issues over the years that still make me cringe when I think about them.

So, I think my magazine is better. So what?

Without making an ass out of myself blowing my own horn – pardon my language – how do I convince everyone else, including people on my own masthead, of this fact? After all, it’s my opinion – I admittedly am biased – and not everyone is going to agree with me.

One way to convince others of our quality is to win editorial awards, which we do every year. Another way is to attract great contributing writers who want to write for EHS Today. Again, blowing our horn, many of the thought-leaders in EHS write for us. Another way is to translate what we do in print to our online offerings and events, to prove that our content transcends the pages of a magazine and takes on a life of its own. We’ve done that as well, with our highly successful Web site and popular Facebook and Twitter pages. And we have a conference in the works, with a line-up of speakers and topics that even unbiased outsiders think is impressive.

At some point, all of us have to justify what we do and how we do it. All of us are being tasked with more work while resources stay level or even diminish. Do I use the few resources I have in a way that makes good business sense?

EHS leaders are challenged every day to not only keep workers and workplaces safe, but to justify costs and show a return to the bottom line. It’s not enough to keep the workplace healthy, you must help keep the business healthy.

When I compare my brand to other brands, I look at editorial content, graphics, page views, newsletter open rates, subscribers, leads… When you compare your EHS process to others, what tools and measurements do you use? What defines a world-class EHS process for you? How do you justify what you do and how you do it?

If you believe you have a world-class safety process at your company (corporate-wide, not facility-based), then think about applying to be one of America’s Safest Companies, an awards program that is another one of the tools I use to compare EHS Today and our impact on the safety community with that of our competitors.

The application can be found online at

About the Author

Sandy Smith

Sandy Smith is the former content director of EHS Today, and is currently the EHSQ content & community lead at Intelex Technologies Inc. She has written about occupational safety and health and environmental issues since 1990.

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