Staying Valuable In A Changing Industry

By Jeff Gelski

Jim Lucy sometimes jokes that he considers himself a company – J.L. Enterprises – as he works to keep his skills and value relevant in the ever-changing business-to-business publishing industry.

“If you do that, you’re probably going to do a good job for your employer, too,” said Lucy, who is chief editor of Electrical Wholesaling Magazine.

Speaking at an April 2 meeting of the Kansas City chapter of the American Society of Business Publication Editors, Lucy stressed the advantages of making new contacts, working on one new project a year and searching for paid content opportunities.

Conventions and other industry events are opportunities to meet people and dig for story ideas.

“Every time you do get that chance to travel, do it with a plan,” Lucy said. He said he still remembers one boss who would enter a convention room, go around the room clockwise and meet people, and then do the same counter-clockwise. To meet contacts, Lucy said, editors need to make that last booth visit, stay at the cocktail party a little longer and spend time in the hotel lobby.

“If I can come away from a show knowing that I met five to 10 people I can use for a story or as a contact later on, then I feel like I’ve done my job,” he said.

At industry events, he recommended, be ready to answer the question, “How’s business?” Have a 30-second speech prepared. Lucy carries a tablet device that allows him to quickly show examples of what’s new with his business, such as a newsletter or a PDF.

Every year Lucy works on one project that is outside his job responsibility.

New business opportunities may involve paid content. Lucy said his company is working on an electrical price index offering benchmark prices for materials such as wire and cable. Companies always are looking for credible sources, and may pay a subscription price for the information, he said.

When presenting a potential new project, keep it short, Lucy advised. Management likes that. If he has trouble keeping his presentation under 250 words, he may develop a PowerPoint with bullet items.

Lucy suggested that editors accept speaking engagements, which may position them as experts in the field.

Even for stories that go up quickly on websites, research always trumps re-purposing, or running somebody else’s content, Lucy said. He has no problem running perhaps a paragraph of another publication’s content, but he is a champion for original research, which means picking up the phone and getting e-mails out.

Jeff Gelski
Jeff Gelski

Jeff Gelski is an associate editor for Sosland Publishing Co. in Kansas City, Mo., where he mainly works for two brands in Food Business News and Milling & Baking News. A member of the Kansas City chapter’s board of directors for the ASBPE, he has worked for business-to-business publications since 1997. After graduating from the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism in 1985, he worked for daily newspapers until 1997.

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