Publishers are, ultimately, responsible for the editorial and financial success of their publications. They oversee the intersection of editorial, business and sales operations to ensure the publication is providing high-quality, relevant content to its readers while making as much profit as possible.
Ideally, the publisher has a strong understanding of the industry its publication covers from a market and an editorial perspective. With this knowledge, the publisher ensures the magazine’s direction and market position are clear and appealing and to readers and advertisers.
To make sure the magazine’s content is in line with its editorial position, the publisher hires and leads an editorial team of full-time and/or freelance writers, photographers, and designers to produce engaging articles that appeal to a specific target audience. Publishers must pay attention to the content the editorial team creates because it’s key to maintaining subscribers and advertisers.
In the B2B world, most revenue comes from advertisers. Just like the editorial team, publishers also assemble and lead a sales team to sell to advertisers interested in reaching the magazine’s audience. Publishers make decisions on what type of advertising is sold and what is restricted.
Publishers must also pay attention to costs and revenue to make sure the publication is profitable. They may need to create budgets and make cuts to fit them, such as moving more content from a print publication to online.
Finally, publishers often appear at conferences and other events to raise awareness of the magazine. Along with editorial directors, they are often the face of the publication.
However, the role of a publisher may be changing. Perhaps one isn’t always necessary for every publication.
“I think the traditional publisher isn’t needed if everyone on staff considers revenue generation part of their role,” said Chris Crowell, editor and founding partner of Craft Brewing Business in the United States.
Crowell’s publication operates as a collective of four people on equal footing: two senior editors, a vice president of sales and a web developer. He explained that the editors guide the original content while also being sure to work with advertisers and contributors to produce quality content and build relationships.
The web developer keeps the magazine’s user experience and ad platform cutting edge. The website and content staff partner on SEO efforts to drive readers and subscribers. The sales vice president builds and maintains relationships and sells ad programs to get in front of the magazine’s audience.
“We all suggest new ideas and brainstorm as things pop up,” he said.