By Michael Foy, President of Publishing Search Solutions
The answer to the title of this article is: Yes! But also no!
It’s yes because up to date technical skills have become indispensable. And it’s no because core personality traits still make for the most desirable employee.
For the sake of simplicity let’s assume that hiring managers are good at detecting positive core personality traits. Things like loyalty, passion, commitment etc… I know that’s tricky but that’s a subject addressed in an earlier article I wrote titled Do Publishers Have the Right People on the Bus, http://oreil.ly/ZKUmnk. For now let’s concentrate on what skill sets modern publishers need to compete and succeed.
Have you noticed the ascendancy of marketing these days? From my perspective of finding talent to strengthen my client publishers, I’ve frequently placed executives with some kind of marketing experience over the last few years. Not surprisingly these most desirable prospects have had titles like Director of Marketing and Vice President of Marketing. On the other hand, they’ve also had surprising titles like Editorial Director, Publisher, Managing Director/Business Development, Publishing Director, Database Marketing Manager etc… The point is that marketing plays a part in almost everyone’s role at a publishing company these days. Those shrewd companies, big and small, that cultivate this new paradigm have taken advantage of opportunities previously left on the table. And they’re increasing their market share.
So how do employees other than those in marketing departments contribute to getting the word out? Social media is part of the answer. Gaining market share can be correlated more and more to how prevalent one is on such vehicles as Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram. These sites and others are a great way to generate buzz amongst a following that you’ve grown and hopefully cultivated with compelling content. The object here is to create evangelists for your product or service. Evangelists in this context means people who are impressed enough with your product or service that they will sing your praises to people connected with them on social media. In effect they are a passionate (and unpaid) promotional team. Movie studios, like Lionsgate that put out The Hunger Games for instance, are masters of this. Needless to say that putting out a compelling product or service is a precursor for success.
Creating evangelists for publishers is best done with a team concept. So let’s create a team where everyone is cognizant of this goal and is willing to contribute to it. For instance there are some excellent editors out there but unfortunately some of those same editors are reticent to apply any of their time and energy to marketing functions. But who can better articulate positions on a publisher’s content than them? I know of at least one executive who recounted how people on his editorial staff had to be coaxed to write blog posts. Happily, however, they soon recognized the value of their posts when shown the impact it had on the publisher’s following and ultimately other metrics like market share and revenues.
So the bottom line is that there is at least a different mind-set that separates today’s productive employee from those of even just a few years ago. One may already have them on staff, ready to flower with just a little redirection. Or an organization may have to add people with the proper mind-set and talents to facilitate a successful business model for a modern publisher. But at least in that case a hiring manager can screen for those candidates that wouldn’t need to be coaxed.