I’m a publisher who started as an editor. I’ve been an editor in chief, a group publisher, even an editor/publisher. It would stand to reason, then, that I would be an advocate for organizations promoting their top editors to publisher positions when practical.
It’s not the traditional growth path in the publishing hierarchy. And b-to-b publishing has undergone a renaissance since the days of fanatical separation between church and state. But an evaluation of factors involved in considering such a move can properly enlighten you when such a candidate surfaces from within.
1. No one knows your market better than the editor. This is extremely valuable when editors-turned-publishers show up for customer meetings. Typically, the client wants to discuss industry trends and pick your brain for what’s going on (rather than listen to you telling him why he needs to buy an ad). Too often, publishers and sales people don’t read their own pages thoroughly enough to sound intelligent in the marketplace. When customers seek out your leader for insights and opinions, you’ve established an invaluable bond that puts you in a great position to do business.
2. No one knows your product better than the editor. An acute understanding of the product allows your editor-turned-publisher to properly articulate its message, its positioning and its advantage. An editor understands a magazine’s strong sections and weak sections; knows what attracts readers, and can use this information to help sell. Also, a publisher with editorial chops is best equipped to explain any new features, special issues or upcoming special sections to help advertisers comprehend its value.
3. A former editor is the perfect face of your publication. In theory, the strong editor is already a known and respected person within your industry. The person also has built-in contacts;often at the highest corporate levels which are even more valuable than the traditional sales-level contacts. Of course, those same contacts are not always so available to meet with people who used to give them editorial exposure and are now asking for money.
4. Former editors are very good at customizing creative solutions for clients. Editors-turned-publishers often have a bag of ideas that they’ve been contemplating for a publication’s editorial product, and putting such people at the heart of the sales process gives you a better chance to monetize these concepts. Besides, there’s an ownership issue here for the editor/publisher’s idea, and with that comes a passion to make it succeed. Your editor/publisher can listen to client needs and seek out a good advertiser/sponsor match for the right editorial project.
5. What better person to oversee the direction of editorial? An editor-turned-publisher possesses unique insight into the editorial product and process, is able to guide his or her newly named editor in chief, can create a strong tandem, and provide a cohesive message to the market. A former editor brings a strong editorial orientation to the sales process. Use a publisher’s editorial upbringing as a value-add;not a hindrance to the new editor.
6. We’re all in this together. Business publishing is a business, and many editorial people understand this fact of life. Try this statement on for size: What’s good for the business is good for editorial. That doesn’t mean selling out for advertisers or having to compromise editorial integrity. It means acting and operating as the prime information vehicle for your market and doing whatever it takes to position yourself as such. But wouldn’t you feel better with someone at the helm who has lived on both the editorial and sales sides of the ball, is in the perfect position to make an informed decision from experience and not prejudice, and can strategically make the tough calls that the market will trust and respect?
If you have the kind of person who has the industry support, product knowledge, charisma, and sophistication to admit what he or she does not initially know about the sales process, don’t be afraid to give this strategy a shot. You might be amazed at the results.