I’m stubborn. My natural tendency is to resist whatever unofficial job duties are foisted upon me, claiming “I don’t have time to do that, too!” or, “I’m an editor, not a _________ [sales rep, marketing manager, accountant, etc.].”
Lately, the area where our editorial staff has been asked to help them most is in marketing. I often hear editors balk at requests like these, much like I instinctively have in the past. They say they’re journalists, not public relations specialists. It’s not their expertise. And to that, I cry, “Bull.”
Much of our job as business-to-business journalists (and journalists in general) already involves marketing. We market our publication to contributors and readers when asking them to add their voice to our pages and our Web sites. We market to public relations specialists when trying to drum up sources. We market again to readers when showing them why they should even read our magazine when they have 10 other trade titles coming to them in the mail every month.
We market to Web users when they wonder where to go for their how-to information and news. We market the stories inside our publication when we write teasers for the front page, and we market them again when we write the headlines, and then another time when sending email reminders on the useful contents of our new issue. And indirectly, we market our publication to potential advertisers when we let our sales department know what we’re covering in the next issue and why readers will be all over it.
It’s not like we’re not already doing it. So when our editors or publishers come to us asking for fresh ideas on how to grow our brand and market our benefits, we should not only be eager to do so, but we should have plenty of ideas in no time. After all, coming up with fresh ideas is what we do every day, all day when dealing with editorial issues. As business-to-business editors, our jobs depend on thinking outside the box and doing more with less. And that’s never been truer than it is right now.
Clearly you don’t want to overstep any boundaries and become involved in murky waters – for example, going on sales calls or offering and condoning pay-for-play editorial/advertising arrangements. But when your unofficial duties don’t put you in a precarious position, and when your intent is pure and focused on how it will benefit your readers in the short and long run, by all means, step up to the plate. Don’t sell yourself short. You’re a great marketer, and you owe it to your publication to find out just how true that is.
Christina Pellett is the managing editor of the Agent’s Sales Journal, a business-to-business publication for life and health-licensed insurance agents published by Summit Business Media. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism in 2002 with a focus in magazine writing and editing.