So, what does it take to be editor-in-chief of a magazine? A lot more than editing skills...
In 2013, I posted this quote from Vibe’s editor-in-chief, Jermaine Hall on my Facebook page, because it encapsulated what I do as editor-in-chief:
“A lot of things that come with being editor-in-chief aren’t necessarily drilled down into the day-to-day tasks. It’s a lot of schmoozing; it’s a lot of fixing relationships; it’s a lot of bartering; it’s a lot of people skills, I would say. It’s really going out there to be the ambassador of the brand on all levels. And that doesn’t necessarily come from being the strongest writer, it just really comes from people skills and the contracts and the relationships there that you’ve been able to build over your career. So, I think it’s knowing that it’s more than writing and more than just editing at this level,” said Jermaine Hall in Mediabistro’s feature, So What Do You Do?
I became editor-in-chief of Miami Living Magazine in 2009 after the current editor decided to move on. At the time, I had only been writing for about four years; and honestly, I knew nothing about being an editor or helming a magazine. Nothing. The one thing I knew is that I never want to live with regret and I couldn’t let this extraordinary opportunity pass me by. So I jumped and built my wings on the way down.
For the editing part, I made sure to read (study) lots and lots of magazines (yes, I went to school for writing, but I was never taught how to run a magazine). I learned as I went. If I didn’t know how to do something, I researched it. I put in the work. I have stayed up until 3 am on more nights than I can count writing and editing the magazine.
Jermaine’s statement is entirely accurate --this job IS a lot about the people skills. Because I deal with so many people via email, I make an effort to meet many of my contacts in-person in order to build a more personal relationship. (This is why I do all of my celeb interviews face-to-face.) When a friend, colleague, or publicist suggests that I meet with an industry contact, I entertain it, because you never know what will come out of a meeting. These relationships are SO important!
And once we’re acquainted and have collaborated, I am your biggest cheerleader. Now, you are a friend and I will help you however I can. I have had so many photographers and publicists take a chance on me and I pay it forward.
Without the relationships that I’ve built in this industry, I wouldn’t have secured and interviewed the talent that I have (if you think that Catherine Zeta-Jones, Harry Connick Jr., and Enrique Iglesias sit down with any small-ish publication that asks, guess again.) or worked with the high-profile brands and extraordinary creatives I’ve had the honor of collaborating with.
If you want to get anywhere in business, or in life for that matter, make sure you bring value to the table and nurture your relationships. I can attest that it definitely takes a village to build something amazing and I wouldn’t have accomplished as much as I have without those that support me.