He’s known for his quantitative analyses of editorial performance, a vast in-house training program, his calls for corporate editorial director positions, and a consultancy geared to help editors do their work more effectively.
Howard Rauch, editorial consultant to business-to-business magazines and former vice president/editorial director of Gralla Publications, is the 2002 Lifetime Achievement Award honoree of the American Society of Business Publication Editors.
Rauch is the ASBPE’s third honoree of the award, which was first given in 2000 to Bernie Knill of Penton Media’s Material Handling Engineering magazine, and last year to Vernon Henry, corporate editorial director for Advanstar.
Rauch accepted his award and spoke at ASBPE’s national Awards of Excellence Banquet on the evening of June 20 at the Mid-America Club in downtown Chicago. The awards banquet was held in conjunction with ASBPE’s national Business Publication Editorial Conference.
Recognized for his accomplishments in 40-plus years in editorial, editorial management, and consulting, Rauch developed extensive programs for in-house editorial training, quantitative evaluation of editorial performance, recruitment, competitive analyses, and editorial marketing while at Gralla (which has since been absorbed into other publishing companies).
In June 1989, after an overseas publisher acquired Gralla, Rauch took his editorial skills and launched Editorial Solutions, a B-to-B editorial consultancy. With almost 13 years in business since then, Rauch has worked with more than 38 clients while, he says, “perfecting my competitive analysis system” and providing a host of editorial services, including marketing and competitive analyses, training workshops, startup strategies, and development of editorial director positions in growing companies.
|“If you … speak up for editorial rights, you earn the privilege to stay on the team.”|
His clients have included Bobit Publishing; Joe Hanson, founder of Folio: magazine; Jim Prevor, publisher of Produce Business; and Shore Varrone (now part of VNU Business Publications USA).
Rauch began work with Bobit, his long-standing client, in November 1989. President Ty Bobit wanted “a high level of editorial content.” Rauch said. “In 1990, I did my first workshop for the Bobit editorial team; that relationship has continued until now, and I’ve always been treated as a member of the family rather than an outsider.”
Rauch said his Bobit relationship is “my best example of success: longevity! If you’re a consultant who works enthusiastically to help clients reach a higher editorial level, but speak up for editorial rights in the process, you earn the privilege to stay on the team.”
More evidence of the respect Rauch has in the business-publishing community is the numerous times he’s been a speaker at the Folio:Show and the ASBPE national Editorial Conference, at publishing companies, and at universities. He has also judged editorial contests for ASBPE, the Neal Awards, and at individual publishing companies.
Rauch began his career in 1959 as an assistant editor covering variety stores and restaurants in Lebhar Friedman’s Chain Store Age group. At this early stage, three experiences shaped his future:
1) The written test based on a field visit. When applying for an editorial position at Lebhar Friedman, Rauch said he had “to visit a variety store … and then write an article based on interesting merchandising trends I observed. In my later management years, I frequently used the field visit as part of the screening process ”when he was hiring prospective employees.
2) The importance of travel. “Even as an assistant editor, I was required to constantly visit stores, talking to managers, and taking photographs of interesting displays,” Rauch said. “It sunk in pretty quickly that without these field trips, how could you really know [about your industry ]?”
3) The need for multiple skills. “Shortly after joining the Chain Store Age Variety Store Edition, I was promoted to a desk editor job on the Restaurant Edition, which eventually became the powerhouse known as Nation’s Restaurant News. My job involved copy editing and layout.
“While I already had found that business magazine writing was a challenge, the prospect of doing layout was absolutely daunting. But I had a great teacher! He had lots of patience with my bumbling.
|“Without travel, how can you know [about your industry]?”|
“Within a few months, I discovered that, for whatever the reason, I had an eye for graphics and was soon laying out and pasting up—remember pasting up?—most of the magazine.”
In later years, Rauch said he met many editors who never had graphics exposure.
“Because of this shortfall, they lost out on management opportunities,” he said. “At the same time, these editors were happy in jobs that were 100-percent writing. So they wore one hat well, but that was the end of it.”
But his teacher at the Restaurant Edition was a role model who taught Rauch the importance of being willing and able to train others, “a principle I bought into forever.”
After briefly holding positions as a newsletter editor for Prentice-Hall, in public relations, and as a freelance writer, Rauch became managing editor at Vending Times.
The 16-page tabloid served a market he had some knowledge of because he had written for it as a freelancer. Rauch was there for four years, and the magazine grew from the number-three book in the market to number one.
|Rauch says the importance of training others is “a principal I bought into forever.”|
“There was travel galore!” Rauch said about his experience at Vending Times. “It was not unusual for me to spend eight or more consecutive weekends at regional association meetings.
“Again, I must salute the importance of travel. I became acquainted with people all over the country, had dinner with them and their families, and we got to know each other as friends rather than editor and source!”
Vending Times was known to have a copy deadline two to three days before printing and mailing, Rauch said.
“It was like closing a monthly on a weekly schedule. Compare that to modern times, where lead times of 30 days or more are the order of the day for hapless monthlies battling the eternal problem of editorial timeliness. Makes you wonder sometimes about the alleged benefits of modern technology.”
Rauch joined Gralla in 1968 as editor and associate publisher of a startup tabloid serving the retail sporting goods business. It had tough competition from two other magazines that had veteran and well-respected editors on staff and another publication also coming into the field.
“At Gralla, which was to be a 21-year stop, I firmed up the view that a capable business magazine editor acquires expertise in any field if he or she works at it,” Rauch said. “On the other hand, it may be harder for professionals with extensive industry knowledge to join a magazine in an editorial capacity and fulfill creative obligations effectively. The experienced editor versus the experienced professional question is an interesting debate that may never be resolved. But now you know my position.”
|“A capable business magazine editor acquires expertise in any field if he or she works at it.”|
Over the next several years, Rauch was editor or publisher of four other magazines before being named vice president/editorial director in 1976. The company was then launching its 12th magazine. During his tenure, Gralla grew to 20 magazines staffed by more than 100 editors.
It was as editorial director that Rauch refined many of his editorial concepts and developed programs incorporating his principles. The corporate editorial director, he believed, was the only person capable of setting corporate editorial standards and the only way an entire publishing company could argue that its publications achieve editorial excellence.
Training. “My favorite accomplishment was creating one of the most extensive in-house editorial training programs in the business magazine field,” he said.“At its peak, the program had more than 40 workshops a year geared to various junior and/or senior editorial management levels. Many people knew of my in house program and were eager to launch something similar in their organizations.”
One result of Rauch’s reputation was his writing a chapter on career development for the second edition of The Magazine.
Among the topics of his in-house sessions were:
- the editorial/sales relationship
- the editor as personnel manager
- editorial complaints
- public speaking
- trade-show coverage
- production flow
Performance Evaluations. As both as an editor and editorial director, Rauch wrestled with how to discuss performance issues with staff. “The typical approach, equally frustrating for supervisor and subordinate, was management by adjectives,” Rauch said. “You’ve heard those discussions before, I’m sure, such as ‘not enough volume’ ‘work needs heavy editing,’ ‘it takes you too long to write features.”
|Rauch’s favorite accomplishment has been creating in-house editorial training programs.|
Rauch believed a capable editorial manager, using a reasonable metric, must decide how long it should take a staff member to do any job. This covered routine work—writing product items or doing production—as well as researching and writing the most complex “roundup” feature.
Applying quantitative standards to qualitative work was hardly popular, he said. “Still, it was a hot topic back in the’70s, and my Lone Ranger-like work in this area got the attention of several industry program chairpersons. Thus, I began a 15-year run of delivering editorial-performance workshops at Folio: conferences.”
In 1984, Rauch wrote in Folio: what has been called the first definitive position paper on performance-evaluation standards. Later, two personnel-management articles he wrote for Folio: were included in the 1991 edition of The Handbook of Magazine Publishing.
“This matter of quantitative standards—now designated as ‘editorial performance metrics’ in post-9/11 strategy plans written by certain publishers—may never be resolved. What top management must realize, of course, is that there is no convenient one-size-fits-all approach. Metrics must be tailored to individual magazines; without that, goals editors may be asked to achieve often are unrealistic.”
Content Analyses. Another of Rauch’s strong interests was developing a method for competitive analyses and other forms of editorial marketing. “When making calls with salespeople, I frequently observed that they were ‘all thumbs’ when it came to matching strengths of our magazines vs. the opposition.
Because of my previously expressed predilection for quantitative expression, I began work on an ‘editorial counts’ system.”
Why not emphasize qualitative strengths alone?
“Because, unfortunately, many advertisers were looking for an easy yardstick that demystified business-magazine evaluation. If you could prove you were doing more—whether it be four-color graphic usage, attention to specific product categories, or statistical enterprise—this was easier to sell,” Rauch said.
“I want to emphasize that none of the endeavors I pursued would have gone very far without the encouragement of Milt and Larry Gralla. Both were editors by background and strongly supported the importance of demonstrated editorial superiority.”
Read Rauch’s acceptance speech
See what Howard Rauch thinks are the biggest challenges for editors today.
“Congratulations to Howard Rauch on being named the 2002 ASBPE Lifetime Achievement Award winner.
“Howard was a strong influence on editorial excellence at Shore-Varrone,Inc., (now part of VNU Business Publications) as he has been throughout the B-to-B publishing industry.
“I enjoyed working with Howard in his capacity as an editorial consultant to Shore-Varrone, and wish I had been able to learn from him when I was starting out in this business as a young and very inexperienced editor.”
private investor and former chairman and co-CEO, Shore-Varrone, Inc.
“As a former partner at SVI and vice president of Gralla Publications in New York, I had the opportunity to work with Howard for many years. We actually worked closely together for 13 years as the leaders of a unique team that started new magazines and cured sick ones. A few that come to mind are Sporting Goods Business, Catalog Showroom Business, Supermarketing, and National Jeweler.
“Howard was the best editor and editorial director I worked with in my 35-year career in business publishing. He’s an outstanding writer, teacher, and idea man. [He was also] sensitive and supportive of the difficult job of selling advertising.
“I’m thrilled to hear that he is getting the ASBPE Lifetime Achievement Award.”
consultant, Berman Media Sales Inc.
“When critiquing our magazines, Howard never told me what I wanted to hear. He told me what I needed to hear.
“Praise from Howard doesn’t come easily. But when it comes, you can be certain you’ve gotten it right.”
vice president, editorial, Randall Publishing
About the Lifetime Achievement Award
Our Lifetime Achievement Award was established in 2000 to recognize editors who have made significant and lasting contributions to our editorial profession and to the industries their magazines serve. Previous recipients were Vernon Henry of Advanstar Communications and Bernie Knill of Penton Media.
To receive the Lifetime Achievement award, a candidate must meet four requirements:
- Significant tenure (20 years or more) on business publications. Nominees need not currently hold editorial positions, and may be retired, but they must have spent the bulk of their careers in senior editorial positions. Nominees need not be members of ASBPE.
- A commitment to editorial excellence. This may be demonstrated by general reputation of their publications(s); industry-related awards (e.g., ASBPE, Neal Awards, Folio:); internal company awards; other forms of recognition or other valid measures of editorial success.
- A commitment to the business and professional press. Nominees should be or have been involved in lending their experience and time to benefit others in the business press. Examples might be participation in local or national business press or related organizations, corporate or university teaching, mentoring programs, or significant research or publication of articles on business press issues.
- A commitment to the industries their publications serve. Examples include committee work with trade or professional associations or standards groups; frequent speaking engagements at industry events; significant research or publication of articles on industry issues; or significant advocacy work with government agencies.