EDITORIAL NICE GUYS: They might be arseholes but the hacks in editorial know their stuff. Be nice to them and they’ll supply the leads you need to pull off a creative sale, says Rob Gray

As a dyed in the wool editorial person, this writer would like to point out that he is not an arsehole. Well, all right, maybe a bit of an arsehole. Quite a bit, actually. Oh, what the hell, it’s in my job description.

As a dyed in the wool editorial person, this writer would like to

point out that he is not an arsehole. Well, all right, maybe a bit of an

arsehole. Quite a bit, actually. Oh, what the hell, it’s in my job


Why the butt-orifice admission? You may recall that, back in October,

this fine organ ran a feature under the charming title: Why are

Editorial Such Arseholes? It mournfully documented the woes of sales

folk who have to contend with the exasperating, irritating,

blood-pressure-raising behaviour of journalists.

The feature struck a chord of recognition for more than a few of


But there was also a feeling in some quarters that it was a little


Arseholes editorial staff may be, yet it’s important that a good working

relationship with them exists. Without one, there are fewer

opportunities for creative selling.

How then to turn confrontation into collaboration? For a start, it’s a

matter of keeping things in perspective. We’re not talking about

sleeping with the enemy. Even though the sales and editorial departments

may be at odds over specific objectives, it should always be remembered

that they have the same overall aim in mind: producing a successful


Healthy tensions between the two camps are a good thing, it’s just that

care must be taken to prevent any disagreements being blown out of

proportion and souring the relationship.

Bridges built with editors and journalists offer sales teams access to

vital information. Insight gained through good relationships with your

editorial counterparts can open up revenue streams.

’I’ve worked in companies where sales has had no relationship at all

with editorial,’ says Computer Weekly ad manager Jane Tillie. ’But here

we’ve launched supplements on the back of leads from editorial.’

The standard of relationships between editorial and ad teams is

distinctly variable. However, sales teams that exchange information with

editorial are more likely to be able to engineer something out of the

ordinary for advertisers.

’Clients are looking more and more to stand out and do things

differently,’ says MindShare managing partner Paul Thomas. ’To attain

that you need some sort of relationship with the editorial department,

although you should never prostitute the publication to get the revenue

in, otherwise the title will die.’

Zenith press executive Lucy Brunning adds: ’The more clued up sales

staff are about what’s happening editorially, the more advantageous it

is for us.’

Brunning cites three examples of this in action. The first two involve

client Clairol, which has different magazine ad executions featuring

blonde, brunette and redhead models. New Woman’s sales team learned from

their editorial colleagues that a forthcoming interiors feature was

focusing on ’blond’ wood. Armed with this information, Zenith made sure

the ad copy featuring the blonde model was used. In a similar vein, copy

featuring the redhead model was booked in an issue of OK! that gave

heavy coverage to Patsy Palmer. For Nicorette, the team bought space in

an issue of Now that included a feature on Jennifer Aniston giving up


Attic Futura group ad director Caroline Connor says her staff work hand

in glove with editorial to develop sponsorship proposals before taking

them out to the market. ’We never try to sell something we can’t

deliver,’ she says. For example, a glossy booklet about cellulite for

client Roc was bound into the May issue of Shine and featured

contributions from some of the magazine’s writers.

Southbank Publishing group advertisement director Clare Dove says it is

important that relationships between the two sides extend beyond the

most senior managers. As well as encouraging interaction between its

editors and ad managers, IPC-owned Southbank operates what Dove calls a

’buddy system’, where each sales executive has responsibility for

building a relationship with key section editors.

This gives sales staff a feel for what is going on and the information

gained can provide the launchpad for a creative sell. Dove says it is

also important to keep key clients’ PR agencies informed, as this helps

focus client attention on the media product and can spawn promotions or

advertorials developed with input from editorial and PRs.

’People shouldn’t underestimate the important role PRs play in all of

this,’ says Dove. ’They are crucial.’

IPC is in the process of creating a ’centre of excellence’ to deal with

advertorials and sponsorships across the whole group. IPC Solutions aims

to be sharply client focused and to involve advertising and editorial

staff in projects in a way that will make the best use of skills

available across the company.

’It’s almost a surprise that the whole industry is not further advanced

with this,’ says IPC Solutions business development director Faith


’Clients want a more integrated approach, an expert they can tap into to

provide the best solution for a particular brief.’

Sponsorships can be tricky to pull off, however. David Henry, group

sales manager at Centaur’s The Engineer, says sponsorships must never

undermine the product but rather add value.

This is all part of a larger issue. Namely, that those with

responsibility for generating revenue must be mindful of editorial

integrity. If they neglect this, not only will it lead to stormy

relationships with editorial staff but it could compromise the way the

product is perceived by its audience. It helps to think of editors as

guardians of a brand instead of obstacles to a deal.

’Some publishers have bastardised their products with advertiser-related

editorial to the extent it has damaged the content,’ says Henry. ’The

magazine then becomes less trustworthy. There is a definite line that

should not be crossed.’

On the internet, where it is arguably harder to distinguish editorial

from advertising, the potential for abuse is high. Dela Quist, Excite

director of European sales, employs a partner services team whose job is

to work with the client, editorial team and ad sales staff to make sure

all three points of the triangle are happy. Close cooperation with

editorial also led to the creation of a small business component, which

is sponsored by Hewlett-Packard.

When it comes to television, there is less interplay between advertising

and content. However, Channel 4 commercial director Andy Barnes says:

’Where we do exert some influence is on the scheduling.’

Barnes says the level of dialogue between the sponsorship and scheduling

teams is better than it has ever been.

This gives sales people more advance knowledge than in the past, which

makes it easier to secure sponsors. Barnes explains: ’When you are

trying to sell someone a sponsorship, they need to know what the basics

of the programme are and when it is running.’

It seems editors are making more presentations in tandem with sales


Those that are prepared to play ball can offer advertisers a valuable

insight into the nature of their target audience. This provides great

sales ammunition.

Computer Weekly runs a roadshow every second month in which staff from

across the magazine’s functions mix with readers and advertisers. Tilley

says this provides fantastic leads and feedback. But while journalists

can often be very constructive in the role of brand ambassador, their

priority is to create content. It is not feasible to assume they can be

called upon to help market a media brand more than once in a while.

Like most relationships, some give and take is called for. Sharing

information, cooperating on initiatives and making prudent compromises

can create a win-win situation. In this way, working life becomes

easier. When all’s said and done, editorial staff may be arseholes but

you can do business with them.


- Their endearing inability to grasp commercial reality

- You’d need a heart of stone not to laugh at their dress sense

- It’s hard not to admire someone who has never paid for lunch in their


- Who else would we get to fill the gaps between the ads?

- The freebies they pass our way (more please!)

- Their silly, shared delusion that they are as creative as Mozart

- Their ’creativity’ - on a par with that of Britney Spears, Steps or S

Club 7. Without the looks. Or the bank balance

- Without them, we couldn’t make any money. Well, not as much

- We appreciate their tutting at our bad behaviour every year at the

staff party - if only they had the balls to really let rip. Bless their

delicate constitutions

- Every once in a blue moon they come up with a useful insight into our

media brand or target audience

- The cute way they can utterly demolish a client relationship - one

that has been nurtured carefully over many years - with an ill-chosen

sentence or two

- The way in which they tremble and sweat at the mere mention of the

word libel. Try it - it never fails

- Gossip. Journalists are worse than fishwives for scuttlebutt and juicy

tittle-tattle. Every once in a while, one of the salacious rumours they

delight in spreading around medialand actually turns out to be true

- The occasional sales leads they lob in our direction after blundering

upon them by accident

- They may have powerful friends in the industry. Superman, for

instance, is a hack on the Daily Planet - although the Incredible Hulk

is rumoured to have done a stint on the Loaded display sales team

- Their priceless editorial integrity (what’s that? - ed)

- Those stupid sidebars and ’hilarious’ panels they insist on putting

into serious features.