Editorial Calendars: Sales Tool or Straightjacket?

Folio: the Magazine for Magazine Management, September 15, 1995 | Go to article overview

Editorial Calendars: Sales Tool or Straightjacket?


FOLIO: asked five editors how they deal with the often tricky business of editorial calendars. The challenge is to give your sales team some ammunition--without giving too much away to the competition.--Alison S. Weintraub

Eliot Kaplan, editor, Philadelphia: I'd say it's a limited editorial calendar that I give out. I do one every six months. It includes generic service stories. I always want to feel free to move what I want to move, and I don't promise any covers. We may do a travel piece about, say, Cape Cod, and I might tell [the sales staff] there's a special issue on Cape Cod. They will go and sell some travel ads around that area. What I don't want is to have them selling exactly what's in a story--so why tell them and tempt them? It's sort of a church-and-state separation. They don't know what's in the story, nor do I know whom they're selling to. I reserve the right to change anything at any time. I always believe that magazines should be sold based on the whole magazine. I bring an audience to advertisers.

John Gallant, editor in chief, Network World: It is a fine art to determine how much to give out. We release as much as we can without giving up a competitive advantage. We ran into a problem a few years back. We put out a year's worth of specifics, and a competitor got hold of it and was jumping us on stories. Now we put out a year's worth on a general basis, and quarterly we give out specifics to sell for a particular issue. If we talk about vendors, we won't give their names. Either a vendor [who bought space] will get cut in the edit process, or the mention could be less than what an advertiser had hoped for. When you get right down to it, an editorial calendar is much more a sales tool than an editorial tool. Once it's created, it becomes more of a straightjacket for editorial.

Jill Roth, editorial director, American Printer: We try to craft an editorial calendar that provides a variety of stories, some that are less product-oriented, so that what we give out in the media kit covers about three articles per month. That calendar we prepare once a year. But since we're working so far in advance, we issue monthly updates with additional articles that may have just developed in the last couple of months. …

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Editorial Calendars: Sales Tool or Straightjacket?
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