Are B2B Editors Experiencing a Leadership Lapse?

By Howard Rauch
President of Editorial Solutions Inc.

If you believe everything you read on industry websites, the biggest impending trend is the abandonment of print in favor of a stronger website position (whatever that means). Recent blogs and articles warn that print is dead or dying. Among other things, this means that every editor must become extremely proficient at posting web articles. Allegedly, there is a big difference between writing for print vs. the web. Well … that depends on your point of view.

In my case, it seems that no matter in what media format our articles eventually appear, there is — or should be — an equivalent standard for highly informative, universally adaptable content. And no matter what else is true, we as editors should maintain an industry leadership position in terms of what we publish.

So what is “leadership?” In fact, it’s something we’ve let slip for a number of reasons. An obvious one might be lack of resources. Another might be the current round of belt-tightening that’s spurred a spate of salary freezes. Or perhaps we’re so preoccupied with the newest challenges to become technically proficient, we’ve let timely, high-quality editorial material slip through the cracks.

Am I exaggerating? Are we as good as we used to be? Here is a simple four-question challenge excerpted from a 16-factor self-scoring profile I’ve used in my consulting work. Each factor earns a maximum score of 25 points. The profile is a good starting point for any future discussion about rebuilding editorial enterprise. Please rate yourself right now!!!

(1) More and more, I am accepting second-best performance from staff members and myself. You deserve 25 points only if you never accept second best. Give yourself fewer points depending on how often you allow yourself or others to fudge on quality. SCORE: _____

(2) Alibis such as “not enough time” or “had to fill space” have become more acceptable to me when I decide to run second-rate material. Give yourself 25 points only if such rationalizations never cross your mind. If they do, downgrade your score accordingly. SCORE: _____

(3) I have developed an “I have paid my dues” attitude that exempts me from working on nitty-gritty — or “getting down” with my staff in emergency situations or when the workload is unusually heavy. Score 25 points only if your crew can count on you for an extra pair of hands when things on the firing line go bananas. SCORE: _____

(4) I find myself devoting a greater percentage of office time to personal business and justifying it. Give yourself 25 points only if personal business amounts to a maximum of a few minutes a day. Subtract points liberally if you shut your office door often so you can deal uninterruptedly with personal matters. Chop off even more points depending on how frequently you are out of the office, ostensibly on business, but in reality taking care of other affairs. SCORE: _____

If you scored 90 out of 100 points on this miniexercise, your leadership position should be solid. The next consideration is whether leadership opportunities are confined to the chief editor or distributed evenly among staff members.

Perhaps we can delve into that matter at another time via a follow-up self-scoring challenge.

Editorial Solutions Inc. is a consultancy focusing on B2B magazines. Rauch is the 2002 recipient of ASBPE’s Lifetime Achievement Award. You can contact him directly at howard@editsol.com.

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2 thoughts on “Are B2B Editors Experiencing a Leadership Lapse?

  1. Howard always has something useful and thought-provoking to say. Given the subject matter of this post, I’d like to mention that the upcoming ASBPE National Editorial Conference will be hosting a session specifically on editorial leadership based on research done by Heather Onorati, managing editor of Advanstar’s Dermatology Times, for her master’s degree at Kent State. ASBPE co-sponsored the project.She will also moderate a roundtable discussion on the topic. Not to be missed.Robin ShermanAssociate Director, Newsletter EditorAmerican Society of Business Publication EditorsThe ONLY professional association strictly for B2B editors and writersinfo@asbpe.orgasbpe@bellsouth.nethttp://www.asbpe.orgRobin ShermanEditorial & Design ServicesFor Books, Journals, Magazines, Manuals, Newsletters, Internet— Information Architecture, Content Development, Organization, Improvement— Developmental, Substantive, Copy Editing— Publication Critiques— Publication Design— Typesetting, Typography, Layout— Speaker, Seminars, WorkshopsSmall Publisher and Non-Profit Specialisthttp://www.forumfolios.org/Robin_Sherman (newest samples yet to be posted)robinsherman@bellsouth.netLook for me on LinkedIn.com

  2. I absolutely agree. I think of when I came into the B2B biz nearly 12 years ago, I consider myself lucky to have the mentors I’ve had. They were interested in the highest quality work and showing you how to achieve that. They never accepted second-rate work, which in turn taught me the value of a job well done.But I can see where it’s harder to show leadership. I don’t think it’s just as confined to the questions Howard asks in his quiz, but I think it extends to the mentoring aspect of being a leader as well. If we’re not the ones to set the standards and the examples, what will happen to the quality in the future, once we’ve left?Nikki GoldenChicago chapter VP

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