Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Editorial integrity

I had my first brush with the editorial team today. So far, Dan has maintained very strict 'Chinese walls' between the editorial and the sales departments of the magazine.

Walls are funny aren't they readers? Sometimes they're to keep people out and sometimes they're to keep people in. Dave the roofer always says "walls have ears, but they don't put them in their sausages". In our case, the Chinese walls are to keep sales and editorial apart in order to maintain something called 'editorial integrity'. I can only assume that newspapers like the Daily Sport and the Daily Mail have got a few holes in their Chinese walls.

We need to maintain very strict divisions between the two departments in order to maintain what Dan calls 'the sales story'. The sales story relies on our advertisers believing that our magazine is read by the influencers that we say it's read by, and that they value the content, so will turn to the magazine when making key purchase decisions, and in the process see the adverts that we have sold and in turn be influenced by them and make key purchasing decisions that favour the advertisers. It all sounds a bit far-fetched to the uninitiated, but that's the basic business model of B2B publishing. I knew this already really from my earlier attempts at getting The Oyster of the ground.

Unlike The Oyster, we're fully audited by the UK's magazine regulator, so we've got a pretty compelling sales story I reckon. Still, I've been struggling to actually make that many sales, which is bad news, because most of my salary comes from commission. That's to say, I get a slice of the action of whatever I sell. It's common among people working in sales that they get paid according to how many units they sell. It's called 'incentivization'. That's why sometimes waiters will suggest getting a side order of chips and spinach, even though you don't really need both. They're 'upselling', which is basically the practice of conning customers into buying something they didn't ask for and don't need. The next time a waiter asks you whether you want a side order, I suggest you ask them whether you can pay less if you don't bother with a bread roll.

Anyway, back on my first day, Dan gave me an Excel spreadsheet jam packed full of 'leads' - leads are people or organisations that might want to advertise. I've pretty much been in contact with most of the leads now, and I've got some good prospects, I really have, but the market is terrible at the moment. I had a really good long chat with one potential client and I think we might be able to do some things together, but she's got budgetary issues of her own, she sent me a press release and suggested that if I was able to get it into the next month's magazine, she might be able to talk to her FD and free up some spend.

I thought is sounded like a definite in, after all a new regional office in Dublin is great news for the client and ideal for the magazine. I told Dan and he said I needed to speak with the editor.

"Sounds more like a fairy tale than a sales story," said the editor in between taking chomps out of his sandwich, "I'm on lunch, can this wait?"

Jesus, I felt bitch slapped good and proper. Brap. Those editorial guys don't mince their words.

I told Dan and he suggested that I email the press release to the editor. I didn't fancy another tongue lashing and sending emails is just so much more convenient and easier than talking to people.

The editor didn't so much as acknowledge the email, but then towards the tail-end of the day, at about 5:30 he sent me a message back. "OK. I'll put it in. But if they don't buy any advertising next month, that's the last favour they get."

At first I thought the editor just seemed like a complete asshole really. We're all in this together, whatever I can sell goes directly onto our bottom line and means the editorial staff (who are basically cost centres) get to keep their jobs. Still, I've been at the coal face of Citizen Journalism for over six months now and I know that those guys are also under a lot of pressure, producing need to know information at the cutting edge of Human Resources is more difficult than it sounds.

It was another tough day at the office, but on reflection, in the cold light of day, when all's said and done, I'm so glad I've gotten this job, on the inside, so to speak. I think if I can keep demonstrating to the editorial team that I've got what it takes to spot a real story and help those guys out, then I really think we can move this publication onto the next level.

Who knows, I might even get my own column.

It's the office social tomorrow night, so I'm not sure I'll have a chance to post. It's a great opportunity to do some networking. I think I'll use the opportunity to big up my Citizen Journalist creds. When those guys see I'm just the same as them, the barriers will come down sure as eggs is eggs.

It is what it is. I could be on the verge of something big here. I really could.

ND out.


  1. Hi Blogleader - avidly following your new career move. As you comment, things are looking promising! I agree! This could be the start of a great adventure - rubbing hands at prospect of quality blogs to come.

    Inspirational thought:- “Hide not your talents. They were made for use. What value is a sundial in the shade?”

    Benjamin Franklin

    Keep on blogging

  2. Hey Mr C - hope you're OK. You've not dropped by in a while. I most certainly will keep on blogging.

    I love your inspirational thought. I like to think of myself as the sundial, pointing the way to News o'Clock.