PRINT MEDIA'S NEW STAR

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What is the most closely watched job in publishing today? Hint: It may not be the editor or the advertising sales director. We suggest the spotlight instead is seeking out the circulation marketing executive.

How newspapers and magazines manage their circulations has always been important, of course. Advertisers buy readers, and who those readers are and how many of them there are is the circulation manager's responsibility. But the pressure is on the circulation department today in ways not often seen in recent years.

The paper and postage cost shockwave that's upset normal balance sheet assumptions throughout the print media has put publishers in a bind. How do they get the extra revenue needed to offset their higher costs?

There's little help from advertisers. Pleading tight ad budgets, they and their agencies prefer to lecture publishers about getting the added revenue they need elsewhere-from readers. In this climate, news that the big stamp-sheet agents-Publishers Clearing House and American Family Publishers-are getting fewer magazine subscription orders causes jitters. As does the continued weakness in newsstand sales.

So publishers of necessity are looking to circulation marketers to lead print media to a new era-an age when readers are obtained less expensively, yet yield more profit per subscription; where a title may even have fewer total subscribers, but subscribers who are more loyal at renewal time and more closely targeted to advertiser wants.

It's ambitious, yes. But the Magazine Publishers of America said consumer publications already get 55% of their revenue from circulation, and some experts predict it will be 60% before long. That's welcome progress for media and advertisers alike, and is why circulation people are earning their greater status.

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