Monday, October 18, 2010

The Effects of Advertising on Editorial

Before I started working for magazines, I never truly understood the way editorial and advertising works together.
I first came across the duo at my time interning for a local San Diego publication. It was a guide to San Diego and when advertisers bought ad space, they automatically got free editorial space. I understood the idea behind it, but at the same time started to wonder, "Just how do I know we are showcasing the best San Diego has to offer?" I was uneasy about simply plugging advertisers, but in that setting, I understood why it was and had to be done.
That experience shaped my whole view of the balance between advertising and editorial.
Now that I am the one in charge and make the call, I will admit, I don't automatically cater to our advertisers. This isn't to say I will automatically write them off because they are present in our ad spaces, but I make sure that they represent an event or company that truly has a place in our limited editorial space and stand for something I believe our readers should take special note of. I pay a lot more attention to the radio now, also, and when I hear them do a quick spot for a local eye doctor or fast food restaurant, I remember that they are getting paid every single time they mention that advertisers name. Then I remember to be thankful I don't have that same obligation.
Or do I?
The thing I am learning in my time as editor, is that advertising affects my job more than I originally thought. Though I am not obligated to write about our advertisers, I need to also remember that ad sales affect the page counts of the magazine. That in turn determines the number of editorial pieces that will fit. So do I write about advertisers to keep them with us and keep page counts up? Or do I keep writing in things I personally believe in?
As I stated, it isn't that I don't believe in our advertisers products or events, but it is safe to say that I don't want to be limited. I am lucky to have the ability to choose my own editorial content and push for topics I think our readers will appreciate. I am lucky to not have to "sell out" to the advertisers and simply write about them because they bought ad space.
It is a delicate balance. Advertising and editorial go hand in hand - but how far do we take it? Have any other Editing Working Girls dealt with this pair?


lisa said...

Kudos to you for trying to maintain editorial integrity.

Jill said...

i want to be an editor at a magazine!
i work for a radio station so I know how important advertising is.

Working Girl One said...

I used to have to deal with this from the other side, the advertising sales side. Editors were sometimes difficult to work with, sometimes writing us off immediately, and a lot of people were of the mentality "the only reason editors can do their jobs/what they love is because we sell ad pages." It's definitely a tough balance on both sides.

Editing Working Girl said...

I am glad I am able to see it from both sides - it definitely helps redeem my relationship with my sales rep.

Anonymous said...

Ah I didn't realise you were a mag editor!

I do the odd bit of writing for a magazine and yes, I never realise how close that relationship was. I was a bit annoyed when the sales guy got something of mine bumped to mention a product of an advertisers' for free instead.

That being said I briefly worked for a fashion mag where literally everything for advertorial. All the pages were paid for except maybe less than 10 which were true editorial with actual articles and bylines. /gag

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