Today’s commercial content officers are yesterday’s editors

By Geoff Tan

SPH Magazines

Singapore, Singapore


You need only Google to find hundreds, if not thousands, of references and articles citing the appointment of content officers by publishers and brand owners the world over.

I’m sorry to announce that the role of the editor as defined in the original and encyclopaedic context is passé. I’m happy to proclaim that the person in this position today needs to wear multiple hats and juggle a multiplicity of roles for the same salary package.

The role of the editor has evolved into something more fluid.
The role of the editor has evolved into something more fluid.

Times have drastically changed. And if publishing companies and media owners are still thinking they can work effectively across a host of walled gardens in an effort to hold high the sacredness of content, I can, without a shadow of a doubt, foresee their commercial demise in the not-too-distant future.

It’s time for all of us to wake up and get real. Paid media infrastructures are not the only game in town, folks! Owned, earned, and shared media — and more — gate-crashed the party a long time ago, if you haven’t noticed.

This brave new world of the 21st century requires from us a drastic augmentation in our tactics and strategy. This will at least keep us on the playing field and accord us a chance to succeed.

However, if you haven’t quite settled with your own mind that digital, together with its unceasing stream of new age new media fandangles, is significantly impacting our now, you are sadly in denial.

The silo mentality of old, even if this exists in pale shades of grey, needs to be eradicated immediately.

The disconnect, which happens when editorial teams are still thinking they can put out well-curated content and continue to do so even if the sales and marketing teams cannot bring in the advertising and sponsorships, is fatal. Much like a gangrene infection caused by a critically insufficient blood supply, not dealing with the situation head on will only result in undesirable amputations leading to an ugly death.

Today’s editors should evolve into or be replaced by commercial content officers. A publication should only be deemed successful if it can satisfy the content needs of a relevant and captive audience and, at the same time, be commercially viable.

Think start-up, think entrepreneurial, think business! Commercial content officers must be proficient in fulfilling revenue KPIs together with putting out content-rich products that connect with their audiences of choice.

Impossible? No.

I can almost hear comments like these resounding from all around: “We agree, but need time to change the culture of our organization, we need to get our staff to buy in, etc.”

These skeletons in our closet need to be dealt with and dealt with fast. Unfortunately, time is not on our side and we are not paid to belabor the situation. Diplomatic niceties, though good to have, may need to be sacrificed in the name of exigency. We need to just do it!

About Geoff Tan

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