Hour-a-Day Training Speeds Entry-Level Staff Development
Starting entry-level editorial recruits off on the right foot requires nonstop effort. Providing hour-a-day training from day one is a best bet.
The approach described here works with even the smallest crew. I first employed it at a B2B magazine where staff was just two of us: the editor-in-chief (me) and a single assistant. The premise was that for two consecutive weeks—or the 10 consecutive days the “teaching editor” was in the office—one hour was mandated for “classroom work” with the new recruit.
The 10-day curriculum I followed most of the time, shown here, was evenly split between basics and industry background. Trainees were required to spend at least another hour a day reading back issues of the magazine, making notes, and then asking questions during the scheduled classroom sessions.
10-Day Training Schedule
Day 1. General orientation. Magazine philosophy and position. Career potential. Importance of being an industry authority. Complaint-handling policy.
Day 2. Editorial objectives. Style requirements. Graphics. How production schedule works.
Day 3. Editing principles. Headlines and caption writing. Importance of tightly written copy and how to achieve it. How to create exciting leads. Story organization.
Day 4. Interviewing techniques and story development. Information sources. Critical questions to ask during most interviews. How and when to write a query letter. How to qualify prospective interviewees.
Day 5. Trade show coverage techniques. Advance planning. Photography ideas. Seeking editorial exclusivity. Sales-editorial teamwork.
Day 6. Industry background: History, terminology, distribution structure, and market data.
Day 7. Industry background, continued: Key industry concerns past, present, and future.
Day 8. Magazine’s position in the marketplace vs. competition. Identifying editorial strengths and weaknesses.
Day 9. Leading industry associations. History of our magazine’s relationship with major groups. Review of important industry conventions.
Day 10. Role of other departments: Sales, Promotion, Circulation, Accounting, and Production.
The previous sequence can of course be modified as needed to suit your magazine or website. And if you can devote even more time than an hour a day to training during the early stages, so much the better. The larger your company, and the more top management supports training activity, the more you can expand upon this basic training outline. Chief editors should resist the temptation to skip personal involvement in a new recruit’s training. Do not forfeit this valuable opportunity!
This article is drawn from my book, Get Serious About Editorial Management, which also includes a detailed overview of several other approaches to editorial training.