The evolution of the editorial superbeing: the changing role of the B2B editor

As revenues in B2B media become more elusive, and B2B advertisers up their content marketing programmes, the organisations formerly known as business publishers are quickly diversifying into new services, and asking much more of their editorial teams.

So B2B editors have to evolve into editorial “superbeings”, combining the roles of talk show host, community manager, video producer, conference producer, awards MC, data analyst, radio DJ, twitter pundit, marketing copywriter, consultant, trainer, agency copywriter and even helpline advisor.

But how is this working in practice?  What new skills do editors need to recruit into their team and how can they organize and prioritise this multiplicity of activities? And what new challenges are they facing?

I’ll be exploring these issues in depth with B2B editorial pioneers Phil Clark, latterly of UBM and now independent; David Shepherd, Editorial Director of RBI’s XpertHR, and Joel Harrison, Editor in Chief of indie publisher B2B Marketing – on Wed 22 Oct at Business Media Insights 2014, a one-day conference for the B2B media industry, organised by the Information Industry Network.

Here’s a sneak preview of some of the new editorial roles we’ll be discussing…

Job description: community manager/ radio DJ

At UBM, the audiences for EE Times and Information Week are tech professionals who are more confident in communicating via social media, so editors devote plenty of time to building online engagement by pushing topical issues, and starting discussions around live events.  Once momentum is built, this can draw in senior industry figures, who can then be approached to contribute more content.  Audio based discussions – in the style of radio programmes – seem to prompt more engagement than video, and are less complex to create.

Job description: consultant

XpertHR are increasingly developing bespoke content with their largest subscribers, involving highly tailored consultancy projects where editorial teams run workshops in client offices and charge a premium rate for their time.  As this business scales, they will need to bring in additional people to manage the projects, although the challenge is that it is the expertise of the editorial team that the client really values.

Job description: agency copywriter

As B2B advertisers move towards content marketing, commercial deals now include more custom content, and editorial teams need to get involved to maintain the delicate balance between brand integrity and commercial gain.

Job description: trainer

B2B Marketing’s proposition, in common with many similar B2B media businesses, is built around best practice.  So moving into training and professional development is a natural – and lucrative – step.  Joel Harrison, Editor in Chief, gets involved in developing new training courses which are delivered by the editorial team.

Of course, there’s a limit on how far the individual editor can stretch their time and talent – and many publishers are developing a range of specialists within the editorial team, bringing in specific skills but always aware that the core value is the market knowledge and broad journalistic skills of their editorial team.

We will discuss the challenges of the evolving editorial superbeing and how different editorial teams are solving them at greater length at Business Media Insights on 22 October in London.  I hope you’ll be able to join us.

And if you have experiences to share of the multiple editorial roles in your organisation, please let me know or comment below.

About the author:  Carolyn Morgan has launched, grown, acquired and sold media businesses across print, digital and events.  She has programmed several highly regarded conferences on digital publishing and advises publishers on their digital strategy.

If you’d like a chat about how you can reinvent your publishing or media business for the digital age, please get in touch.

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