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October 6, 2008

Eye On Recruiting, Michele S. Magazine

HOW MICHAEL CLINTON ADAPTS TO THE “EVOLVING MEDIA LANDSCAPE”

Consider this question fresh from the merchant marine:

Once the engines on an ocean-going freighter are cut, how far does a ship continue on its path before it comes to a complete stop?

Answer for landlubbers: 21 miles.

The image of bringing a freighter to a full stop came to mind while speaking with Michael Clinton, who last October celebrated his 10th anniversary as Hearst Magazines (HM) executive vp/chief marketing officer and publishing director. We were talking about how the “evolving media landscape” was influencing the way sales and marketing staffs were structured, and how long it would take a company as large and diverse as HM to adapt to change. If time were equated with miles, it would most likely take a great many years to change the corporate ad-sales structure in large media companies.

Clinton knows the key to developing new and increased business is by presenting innovative, multi-dimensional sales programs including print, digital, mobile, consumer relations management, events and sponsorships. However, the skills needed to find employees who can address these new areas have changed dramatically. The lines between marketing and sales are blurring. Staffing and training are critical to success in today’s competitive marketplace.

Just 18 months ago, Clinton redefined and repositioned Hearst corporate sales with the renaming to Hearst Integrated Media (HIM) in order to address the need to innovate and market multifaceted packages to major advertisers. By doing so, Clinton said, HIM has been able to sell broad-based, multi-faceted media programs such as that recently done with Sear’s and HIM’s three 30 Days platforms (beauty, fashion, and home). A number of other media companies are also taking this approach.

This begs the question: What is the “corporate evolution”? And, what’s working and what’s not?

Tomorrow’s leaders will oversee an entirely new way of thinking and staffing in order to run successful magazine companies. However, in the meantime, managers have to determine the best practices in overcoming old ways which don’t address today’s multi-media needs and demands. Intellectually we all know that change is here and the really big challenge is to “re-educate”–we need to teach how to embrace change in this lightning speed environment.

So where do we begin? First, Clinton talks about how creative “rewards systems” and incentive programs are necessary to create “enlightened” sales cooperation. Second, sales training is necessary since digital sales can’t be approached with a print mind-set. Clinton is quick to point out that successful magazine ad salespeople have always been client-centric. They have the ability to lead the way with multifaceted sales if they are trained to adapt to change.

Who will succeed? Clinton predicts the “senior managers who ask, ‘What do I need to do to move forward?’ Those who are open to ideas from all parts of the organization and evolve with the marketplace will succeed.”

My own two cents
A number of years ago, ESPN marketing and sales president Ed Erhardt created a ‘horizontal organization where his staff sells multi-platform programs
across all divisions of ESPN. Bravo to him for embracing this new media world and the guts to continue to tweak the organization as it adapts to ongoing change.