February 11, 2008

Eye On Recruiting, Michele S. Magazine


A decade ago, “integrated media” rarely went beyond space sales, sponsorships, and events. Now, we call it building the brand or multi-platform marketing and include the interactive component along with new, alternative media. Although magazine Web sites are no longer a novelty, many publishers are still struggling to make them fit into the overall business. How to manage online sales and marketing along with the proliferation of new-media opportunities is what is new, and the implications of staffing and where to find new talent as well as holding onto existing talent is the challenge.

I have talked to several publishers who are succeeding in bridging the online/print gap and keeping turnover to a minimum and one theme keeps emerging: training, training, training, training.

Among the most proactive executives are these three:

1. Pat Haegele, “Good Housekeeping” vp/publisher. GH has programs that are cross-platform specifically in book, online, tv, and mobile. The sales staff is equipped to sell the entire package even though they have a digital sales department that sells the corporate online network to Internet advertisers looking for broad reach. “We have been able to keep and attract talent that insists on the ability to do all of the above for the client,” says Haegele. “Clients do not want to deal with several contacts for one brand.”

2. MaryAnn Bekkedahl, Rodale executive-vp/group publisher. Centralizing sales staff was the single most important factor in the one-year-old successful integration of media at Rodale (see min, January 8, 2007, for its origins). Training was key but surprisingly took less time than expected, says Bekkedahl, with everyone involved from management to sales. The training was both formalized and “on the street,” which works extremely effectively.

3. Gary Holland “Barron’s” vp/publisher. “Selling is no longer one-dimensional. Now, we find that the proliferation of new-media opportunities gives us touchstones to present to our clients. We stay focused on our core business and hire top sales talent in leadership positions. Training is key to our success. We have ongoing weekly sessions that cover everything from changing terminology to the newest sales and marketing techniques.”

My own two cents

Top employees want to make a difference and want to grow with the changing climate. Take time to cross-train and keep your good talent. Money is often not the main reason people leave (providing compensation is fair). Our search firm finds that people who are challenged and respected won’t consider another position solely for money.

Despite the tight talent pool, don’t settle. It costs more money and causes more headaches to hire the wrong person than keeping the position open. Involve a number of managers in the hiring process to make sure the corporate culture fits. Listen to your gut.