My Media Day: Heather McLaughlin, sales manager, Pinpoint Scotland Ltd

HEATHER McLaughlin is sales manager for publishing and direct mail services company, Pinpoint Scotland Ltd, which is based in Edinburgh.

She submitted this on Tuesday, February 21 2017.

What exactly is it you do?

At Pinpoint, we are a medical publishers. We have four titles: EYE News, ENT and Audiology News, Urology News and our youngest title, PMFA News (A bi-monthly review of Plastic & Maxillofacial surgery and Aesthetic medicine).

Each product is niche to specific specialties. Traditionally, we focused on print but we now cover many platforms – print, digital and events.

It is my role to run the sales and commercial aspects of the company. I focus on maintaining and creating revenue streams whilst upholding the integrity of our brands and content.

As well as this, I work closely with all departments and our editorial boards to ensure the direction and quality of our products.

What did your working day yesterday comprise?

Each day can be quite different, depending on the focus and what point we are at in the schedule.

Yesterday, I was mainly working on closing the latest issue of ENT and Audiology News, which is our global title, reaching 140 countries worldwide.

We have just celebrated 25 years of this publication.

I worked with the team on the page plan and bringing in the final sales, as well as writing some final news pieces to be added to the ‘Newsround’ section of the magazine. We had an interesting afternoon discussing and selecting the front cover.

Throughout each day, I offer guidance and support to the team. This can be working on sales pitches, how to set up a media partnership with medical bodies and societies, inviting someone to join our editorial board, discussing content or how to reply to a difficult query or request.

Yesterday was all about the magazine and print; other days, I will be working on brand extension projects such as events, daily conference newspapers and our new website.

I have overseen the launch of our youngest title which is now four years-old, a name change of our flagship title and countless new projects.

How different or similar is your average working day to when you started? 

I have worked in publishing for over 16 years and life is very different.

At the beginning of my career, I worked closer to a block schedule, issue to issue. At that point, some clients were still sending adverts to us through the post!

Floppy disks and CD ROMS were still being used. Many clients at this time would place DVDs on the front cover – this was very popular. This all seems so long ago now.

Through technology, market, expectation and demands, issue-to-issue and 12-month booking calendars are no more; everything is more fluid. With digital platforms complementing our print titles, we are constantly working on content and sales.

It really is not enough just to have a good platform to offer: this will only get you so far. You have to really understand your clients, their needs and what you can offer to satisfy those needs.

Audience and clients have high expectations and want everything at their fingertips. We work to keep our readers engaged. Due to technology advancements and the need for digital platforms, you have to understand your audience and how they consume content. What are the platforms you offer? Are they the right platforms? Do you need to change existing platforms or tweak them?

On the sales side, there is more pressure to offer measurement of engagement and return on investment. This can only be achieved by pushing your brand and reputation, galvanising your own products to offer the brand extensions needed for both audience and client.

As the publishing industry knows only too well, you have to evolve and keep your products fresh whilst offering new ideas and brand extensions. I teach our team to sell our brands rather than just an issue, sell the whole idea of what we are and who our audience is.

However, the one thing that definitely hasn’t changed and will never change, is the importance of relationships. It still comes down to the contacts you make and the trust you build.

The first sales manager I worked under taught me that ‘people buy people’ and to a large extend this is true; building, nurturing and maintaining your internal and external connections will help you to achieve the best products you can whilst having a lot of fun too…

How do you see your job evolving?

Our titles are known for their high-end content, which is what we will continue to deliver in all our products. The company will evolve to offer full platforms for the client, whilst assisting medical professionals within their careers.

My job will constantly evolve to achieve the company’s aims. As we grow the team, our products and take on more new projects and my role will shape to what is needed.

This year, I organised our first ever event which was an educational study day. It was such a success that we have booked next year’s date and have delegates already registered. I will work with the team to use this template across our titles.

What gives you the most job satisfaction? 

There are so many aspects of what we do that gives me job satisfaction.

First and foremost, I enjoy seeing the team grow into their roles and the pride they have for the product they work on. One member of the team has the front cover of the first issue they edited framed and hung on their sitting room wall.

Our editors and editorial boards are made up of professionals within their field and I very much enjoy working with such individuals and creating a team with them. It is fantastic to see the joy they derive from working on the magazine and the recognition this brings them and their own careers.

I love building relationships; due to the nature of our products, we meet our readers, contributors and clients at medical events.

We see, first-hand, the impact our product has and we hear what people really think.

As three of our four titles either have reached or are reaching 25 years, we now have audiologists, ENTs, ophthalmologists and urologists who have read our magazines from the beginning of their careers. This gives me tremendous satisfaction.

Hosting our first educational day was like watching the magazine come to life. To see the excitement of the delegates and what they were getting out of the day was such a buzz. We have always promoted our titles to offer communication, information and education to our readers, and this was all rolled up into this day with such a strong faculty that we put together. I loved every minute of it!

Finally, there is the satisfaction of the magazine arriving from the printers. Nothing beats that fresh smell of ink!