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Editorial and Sales Can Collaborate to Maximize Revenue - 7/26/2016 -

Mary Abel

It might make you uncomfortable to think about it, but the Association of YMCA Professionals is proving that when editorial and sales teams work together more closely, good things start to happen.

By Mary Abel

I’m one of those old-school, church-and-state editors. I was taught that I shouldn’t speak to the ad team, much less collaborate with it. But the world of publishing is changing, and the sharp line between editorial content and advertising has blurred. And so, I have changed, too, if a little reluctantly. I now work in tandem with my ad manager, all in the best interest of our members and our advertisers.

According to session leaders Carla Kalogeridis, president of ARION Media Services, and Brittany Shoul, vice president, sales at Network Media Partners, I’m on the right track.

Using a redesign of AYP Magazine, the member publication for the Association of YMCA Professionals, the duo led us through how the continual collaboration of editorial and advertising made for better content, happier advertisers, and more revenue.

A quick online poll revealed that nearly 80 percent of the session’s attendees (most of whom were editors) kept that line sharp, responding that they had no working relationship with their advertising departments. Most seemed a bit weary at the direction of this discussion, but Kalogeridis and Shoul made some compelling arguments for editorial and advertising collaboration (listed on a nifty "Collaboration Roadmap” handout), which include:

• Positive impact on both your advertiser relationships and member-centric content

• Increased bottom-line revenue

• Sources for fresh, new content

Kalogeridis and Shoul also offered practical ways to collaborate:

• Understand that this relationship is an ongoing process.

• Work closely as a team in overall content planning.

• Provide your editorial calendar to sales in advance and be open to feedback.

• Schedule regular meetings to discuss upcoming issues and content.

• Ask sales to share new advertisers and industry partners with the editors.

"Creating an issue theme (i.e. an annual editorial calendar) far ahead of time to coordinate with sales allows the opportunity to find advertisers that would be interested in the theme before their ad budgets are tapped out,” explains Kalogeridis. "Having your next year’s editorial calendar available before September is your best bet because that’s when budgets are traditionally created and planned.”

Sales and editorial teams working together to create supplements and special issues, as both a way to drive revenue and deliver focused and meaningful content, was also discussed.

A sticky issue for many editors is allowing advertisers to publish editorial content, but Shoul explains that it doesn’t have to be that way. "We’re not advocating a pay-to-play scenario,” she says, "but giving advertisers the opportunity to submit content — to simply be considered as any other freelancer — keeps your revenue partners engaged.”

Kalogeridis and Shoul also reminded the audience that association members are most likely buying products and services from the vendors who advertise, so there’s already a synergy in place. And those advertisers are likely conducting relevant research and are experts in their field, so it just makes sense that they would be in the perfect place to create editorial content that members want.

The secret to making this type of collaboration ideal for both departments is clear communication. Editors must outline the mission of magazine and be specific about acceptable content; sales must manage expectations of advertisers and partners by teaching advertisers how to talk about content ideas with the editor and helping them understand that their ad rep cannot promise editorial content.

Continuing to use AYP Magazine as an example, the session leaders presented four editorial spaces that offered opportunities for advertisers to submit content:

• Marketplace: News, industry personnel changes, new products

• Findings: Research and news; submitted content that is focused but still meets the magazine’s mission

• Interview: An advertiser profile that is a good fit for an issue’s theme or the magazine’s mission

• Feature Story: Written by advertiser about a topic in which they have expertise or original research, but with no self-promotion

Still feeling a little skittish? Consider this: The positive impact of the close collaboration between AYP’s editorial and advertising teams is clear. In 2011, the publication had 22 advertisers making 39 buys. By 2015, 64 companies bought 123 ads. Not too shabby.

"We do this because we’re all on the same team and we have the same goal — to serve the member,” says Kalogeridis. "More and more editors are taking on publishing responsibilities, and more editors are in marketing roles, but no one wants to talk about it,” she continues. "The best editors think like marketers. I think it’s going to be a trend because editors know their audience and understand what they need better than anyone else. And that audience includes members and the vendors that serve them.”

Mary Abelis editor of ASCP Skin Deep, published by the Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals. Association Media & Publishing sincerely thanks her for volunteering to cover this Annual Meeting session for our members who were unable to attend.


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