Yesterday, we reported that, as the year ends, AOL plans to use some clever accounting to make it look like 10 or so Patches are finally profitable.
But that’s not all AOL is doing to juice Patch revenue numbers!
One self-described “riled” Patch editor from the East Coast tells us that in addition to his or her normal job responsibilities, this editor has also been asked to start drumming up ad sales leads.
“This is a bridge too far, I think by any measure,” says this editor.
“Requiring journalists—already run ragged by their normal duties—to do this is so far beyond the pale it actually makes my stomach hurt.”
“This was definitely not discussed in the many job interviews that I went through to get this position, and was not discussed during my training. We were told in general terms that we would be the face of Patch in our areas, but there was no mention of having to do actual marketing work and generate sales leads.”
He says that in addition to these regular duties…
“Post seven pieces of content a day, with a minimum of four; Edit all copy and photographs; Shoot and edit video for stories and as stand-alone content; Main reporter and writer (with no editor or copy editor); Main photographer; Contract freelancers and assign stories; Maintain budget (couple grand, more or less) per month; Pay freelancers twice a week; Recruit and edit stable of bloggers; Track all users and comments on site; Acquire guest editor for vacation days (and pay them from my own budget at $100 a day); Post to Facebook and Twitter four to six times a day (twice a day on weekends)”
…(s)he has now also been tasked with drumming up sales leads by attending local events.
This editor writes:
- Lead editors are responsible for all marketing events: not just suggesting them, but executing them. That includes (most of these are requirements; some are just strongly suggested):
- Writing up a proposal and running it up the food chain for approval
- Filling out an onerous form that is practically impossible for someone not trained in marketing (attached)
- Setting up the table / booth
- Paying for the presence at the event (if necessary, which it usually is; we are then re-reimbursed. That is, it doesn’t come from our monthly budgets)
- Estimating a number of newsletter subscriptions to be gained from event
- Signing up people for newsletter subscriptions while at the event (some REs give a quota of say, 5 or 10 subscriptions)
- Tweeting before, during and after event, about the event
- Running content on the web site before, during and after the event
- Generating story ideas (Not sure if this is Patch-required, but I’ve been told of one RE in Pa. who is requiring that at least five, and possibly 10, story ideas be submitted within three days of the event, which seems to really be rubbing salt in the wound—I have not confirmed this particular cruel insult)
- Estimating cost & number of promotional materials (swag)
- Formally requesting Patch promotional materials, and promptly returning any unused materials
- Bringing along the large Patch banner and other items, such as chairs, barrels for bottled water giveaways, iced tea in hot weather, or coffee urns in cold weather; I’ve heard some places have “prize wheels,” or that we’re all getting them
- Facilitating contests (optional; subject to approvals—there are legal implications, etc., that we must also become familiar with)
- Bringing a large trash can and trash bag, disposing of trash afterward
- Estimating the number of sales leads to be had from the event
- Actually gathering the sales leads for the LE’s sales person (again, depending on the region, there may be quotas to hit—and, incredibly, the sales person does not have to attend the event [note: not all LEs actually have a designated sales person]).
- Taken together, a team of five or six marketing professionals would be able to pull off the above nicely. But one journalist, with no or very little marketing experience? I understand it’s a start-up, still, and I’m all for being entrepreneurial, but Good God. They have got to be fucking kidding.
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