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Time to revamp role of circ exec?

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Is it time for a new type of circulation director?

I recently joined a panel at a National Trade Circulation Foundation Inc. luncheon in New York on the subject of what publishers want from circulation directors and vice versa.

Much of the talk and many of the questions focused on how the needs today are changing, especially from the publisher's viewpoint. What is becoming clearer is that publishing has entered a new phase in which content and readers are matched up in many different venues. Circulation departments today need to be about audience development, not just print audits.

I don't think this is being embraced by our current teams of circulation directors.

Who in your company is marketing the e-mail newsletter registration? What percentage of your subscriptions are coming through your Web site? Who is managing visitors to your Web site? Does your circulation department analyze Web traffic, search-engine rankings and e-mail newsletter open rates? Do your circulation managers cross-promote events? Do they develop new ideas for revenue-generating products?

I believe it's time for circulators, CEOs and publishing directors to discuss a change of the circulation role in the organization. Whom we hire and what they do should be focused on total audience marketing, and that is something that is just starting to happen in some companies.

Why not hire some true marketing executives to lead this change?

Bob Felsenthal can be reached at bfelsenthal@crain.com.

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