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Hybrid Job Positions

As silos break down, titles and descriptions are morphing.



By Joanna Pettas
04/03/2008

Publishers talk a lot about breaking down silos, but what happens once everything inside them comes spilling out into one big mass?

In some cases, it’s resulting in hybrid job titles that officially position people in multiple worlds. “More and more vice presidents of production are adding ‘technology’ into their titles, combining operations of the Web and print side,” David Steinhardt, president and CEO of Idealliance, said during a recent Folio: Webinar.

It’s also common for a director of marketing or circulation to add “e-media” onto their titles. For John Rockwell, who recently added e-media onto his title of vice president, audience development for Access Intelligence’s chemical division, this means a focus on developing the structure of the Web site as a sales and marketing vehicle. “Audience development is part of my responsibility, but I’m no longer connected to corporate audience development,” he says. It also means much more overlay with IT and more interaction with editors.

At Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S., some hybrid titles are even more specific. Last month, Tom Masterson, formerly senor vice president of consumer marketing, added manufacturing onto his title when the printing and distribution teams joined his department. Also, pre-press operations jobs switched from manufacturing to IT, following editorial systems teams which did the same last year.

IT at Access Intelligence is changing too. “IT priorities in the past were much more technology-based,” says Rockwell. “Now they’re more about business priorities. I ask, ‘Are we going to sell anything because we have that?’ If not, then it’s probably not the first thing we should work on.”

In other cases, titles aren’t changing but job responsibilities are. “There’s much more of a melding of jobs, a moving away from bifurcated, ‘I just do this,’ or, ‘I just do that,’” says Eliot Kaplan, editorial talent director at Hearst Magazines.

The changes can be an opportunity. “People know less what their specific job descriptions are,” says Rockwell. “We’re hooking everything together better, and there’s more flexibility to make things happen.”

The editorial teams’ focus in particular, he says, is much more involved in marketing. “In the past, there had to be clear delineations between editorial content and solicitations. Everything is much grayer now, not as clear cut. Everybody has to work more closely than they used to.” For example, in his position, Rockwell is in charge of buying search terms for SEO, but he relies on the editorial team for suggestions.

Organizing Chaos

Fuzzy job descriptions have a downside, of course. Chip Means, a Web editor at MedTech Publishing, whose responsibilities range from writing stories to formatting Web pages with HTML and CSS coding, says he loves being in a position to make organizational decisions for his company’s online strategy and learning about the business end of publishing. “The less desirable crossover comes when I’m mistaken for a technologist or a general contact for all things Web-related,” he says. “This occasionally, but not frequently, results in me fielding requests for ad analytics or being asked to help format a newsletter being sent by another department.”

That’s a common lament these days. “It’s like continuous chaos,” says Rockwell. “You have to remember not to freak out in the chaos.”

Hank Berkowitz, who holds various leadership roles at the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, has a hybrid title—he is publisher of AICPA’s e-newsletter group as well as director of online publishing and business development, drawing on both his sales and editorial backgrounds regularly.

At Wiesner Media, “digital intelligence” was recently added to Sarah Frazier’s title of vice president, circulation. With that comes a slew of new responsibilities. Right now, she still oversees circulation but also assists publishers with sales efforts and training, is heavily involved in audience development, is implementing a new internal collaborative work space system called Sharepoint, and is learning about Web design. “Every staff member has to be a contributor,” Frazier says. “I also look for vendors who can help make my life easier—they have to be efficient, offer quick turnaround and work within my budget and reporting needs.”

By Joanna Pettas
04/03/2008







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