-Words by Christine van Reeuwyk
Ruby Della-Siega, publisher of Monday Magazine, spent the days leading up to her retirement out knocking on doors and introducing Black Press’s
community partnerships coordinator Katharine Brynjolfson to clients, with whom she has had relationships dating back decades.
For 38 years, Della-Siega worked with the local business and arts communities to create successful print and digital campaigns, building growth and brand awareness. She officially retired December 23, 2022.
Tenacity has been the key to her long and dedicated career in the newspaper and magazine industry—a trait that came in handy right from the start.
Della-Siega started with Monday Publications in 1984 as a fresh-faced graduate from the University of Victoria, where she’d been doing ad layout and design for the student paper, The Martlet, while finishing studies in physiology and sociology.
In late ’84 she heard from a friend that Monday Magazine was filling sales positions. She didn’t know a lick about advertising sales, but could lay out an ad—which was a requirement—thanks to her work at The Martlet.
“I didn’t really understand what sales was,” she says. But she’d learned tenacity working for Gray Line tours over the summers, a competitive job that paid a salary with commission.
So she joined the team as a sales associate.
Monday Magazine was cutting-edge for its time, and that didn’t always work in her favour. For example, a restaurant reviewer might rip into an eatery and then, without realizing this, Della-Siega would to land them as an advertiser.
Once she dedicated time and energy to a significant proposal, putting her heart and soul into the pitch. They said no. She went to the library and cried.
But two or three weeks later they called to advertise, Della-Siega recalls.
“People who say no to you—it’s not always ‘no,’ it might be ‘just not right now.’”
In August 1996 what is now called Black Press Media purchased Monday Publications, which had several titles under its umbrella,including Monday Magazine, several tourism and business magazines and a communications organization. Black Press continued Monday as a weekly for several years, well into the new millennium.
It did lose some momentum when the internet gained traction and reinvented what advertising looked like for clubs and bars. There was a definite shift to social media, Della-Siega said.
Around 2012, a shift occurred in the content, building on the already strong entertainment aspect.
Steeped in a history of winning national and international awards for investigative features, arts and culture, that tradition continues as Monday Magazine has been part of a series of award-winning Black Press resource guides on subjects, ranging from overdose prevention, mental health and intimate partner violence.
“It was a privilege to be part of Monday. Every model we used, it became a success,” Della-Siega says.
Every day was different, as she engaged in different fields and figured out how the audience could aid the business or venture, from museums to film festivals and live performance.
An active volunteer in a variety of local arts groups, Della-Siega also serves on the boards of both the Community Arts Council of Greater Victoria and the Friends of Music Society. In retirement, she plans to perhaps pull out her bike, or maybe find a new hobby. It’s really up in the air, she says, though a February vacation under sunny skies on sandy beaches is already booked.
After that, who knows.
“I’m going to hang around with my husband—hopefully we get along,” she said with a hearty laugh.
Della-Siega has confidence in Brynjolfson who takes on the role of community partnerships coordinator with the magazine. A relative newcomer to Black Press Media, she’s already building and developing her own connections.
“I think she’s got a lot of enthusiasm and a lot of energy, and that’s half the battle,” Della-Siega says. “You can learn the sales skills, but mostly it’s attitude and emotion that wins people over.”