As commercial pressures increase on media businesses, editors are being urged to get more involved in supporting ad teams. This can be fraught with difficulties. Many “old school” editors struggle to fully understand and work within commercial constraints. As advertisers increasingly seek ways to get more involved in editorial content there is a risk they will subtly influence editorial content to suit their own marketing objectives, to the detriment of providing independent advice to readers. However, my experience of working in more specialist consumer and b2b markets shows that a commercially-minded editor with a strong specialist knowledge can dramatically improve the success of a media business across print, digital and events:
1. As a key mover in the industry
Many specialist media businesses are established by people with a great network and a reputation for expertise in their sector. This is a fabulous advantage for a commercial team as a well-connected editor can open doors to prospective commercial partners and draw in high profile contributors. Nigel Harris of Rail magazine was a great asset to the business as he had strong relationships with industry figures, journalists and politicians.
2. Building credibility with advertisers
Editors are adept at communicating who they are targeting and why their publication is compelling. The perception that they are not focussed on selling can also be a major advantage. Getting an editor in front of an advertiser is a fabulous way to build credibility, although the demands on their time need to be managed carefully.
3. Creating a publication that readers value
Independent, relevant, quality content is what keeps readers coming back and the influence of a publication growing. That is the greatest value an editor can contribute to the commercial proposition.
4. As part of a publishing team
Advertisers increasingly want bespoke solutions to their marketing challenges, combining sponsorship, competitions and activity across multiple channels. See my earlier post on developing successful commercial partnerships. Editors have much to contribute to teams developing special packages for advertisers as they have a different viewpoint to marketing and sales staff.
5. Balancing editorial credibility
A great editor knows how to balance the interests of the reader with the marketing objectives of the advertiser without undermining the credibility of the publication. Too many media owners have slipped the wrong side of the line which in the long term will lose them readers and influence.
What is your experience of editors contributing to the commercial success of a print or online publication or event? Is it easier in specialist markets where advertisers are highly relevant to the content readers want, and publishers are often deeply involved in their chosen market? Please comment below or join the debate on the Specialist Media Network on Linked-in and share your views with 400 other media people.
About the author: Carolyn Morgan runs Penmaen Media, a consultancy advising media owners on how to profit from digital media and marketing. She is also content director for the Specialist Media Show, which brings together specialist media owners to swap ideas and tips, network and discover new suppliers. If you’d like an informal discussion about how you can develop successful commercial partnerships for your specialist media business please contact Penmaen Media for a chat.