Media Perspective: Commercial and editorial must work as one to save print

When you think of successful pairings, perhaps some of the ones that would immediately spring to mind would be The Two Ronnies, Torvill and Dean, and fish and chips.

What wouldn't, would be the mighty pen-wielding editors and the powerful money-wielding commercial people.

However, times have changed. In the past, most editors would have rather watched paint dry than meet with advertisers or marketers. There were always the exceptions - editors who were forward-thinking and understood that the survival of their magazines depended largely on the money that advertising brings in.

This is something that Jane Johnson, Fabulous magazine's editorial director, understands and embraces. A few weeks ago, she phoned me with the idea that the BSME and Wacl pair up to put on event. I thought it was an excellent idea and put her in touch with Nicola Mendelsohn, Wacl's president.

And so a new partnership was born and will hopefully thrive. Last Monday, editors and commercial folk met up for a drink and a chat. I have been in the fortunate position to have met more and more editors over the years and there is no doubt that you can get a far deeper understanding of the direction of the magazine and the strategy going forward from an editor, who understands his/her magazine and readers better than anyone else.

On Monday, I met John Dale (Take a Break), Trish Halpin (Marie Claire), Louise Court (Cosmopolitan) and Lisa Smosarski (More). John gave me an insight into his readers' minds; Trish talked about her plans for Marie Claire; Louise explained how she keeps her readers interested; Lisa chatted about her reinvention of More magazine. As a result, I have more insight for my clients and already have ideas for partnerships.

In these difficult times (and the internet will continue to pull money from print), we have to work together. Believe me when I say that advertisers don't want to fundamentally change the magazine or compromise the editorial integrity, but we do need to understand how we can make our messages work harder and how we can really get under the skin of the readers, and editors really are best placed to help us do that.

The benefit for the magazines is clear: I can tell you that more money has been spent in the last year with titles whose editors I have met, and with whom I have discussed and developed mutually beneficial partnerships.

So I urge all the editors that still believe that they are better than all of this (and there are still quite a few) to wake up and smell the coffee. We can help you, you can help us and, who knows, you might find that most of us don't bite and you could actually enjoy yourselves.

Ian Darby is away - Claudine Collins is a managing partner at MediaCom.