NEWSPAPER REPRESENTATION.—Newspaper representation on the outside is a field of activity which somehow seems to be neglected. At all events it does not always attract the right type of men. Newspaper proprietors are constantly bewailing the difficulty of securing a representative who can do his work tactfully, and can be trusted to do that work without constant supervision, showing a progressive turnover during the time he is employed. On the other hand, an advertisement for a canvasser for a newspaper would bring out fifty or sixty applications, which would lead one to the belief that the field is overcrowded. An analysis of the fifty appli cations would possibly reveal a different story. The writer has seen such a batch which has only contained three possible candidates, and those three men were fully employed in substantial positions and were merely looking for a direct improvement. An analysis of applications sent in for positions as canvassers for newspapers would show out of over fifty about thirty who had no experience at all, another ten with a sinister record of changes which suggests weakness of character, and probably the remaining ten would have some definite qualifications which would justify negotiations with them. On such an analysis it is easy to see that here is a good field for a business man who takes his work seriously. The difficulty of the newspaper with its representative is that it has no means of checking the work he does except by the returns he shows. A principal can certainly outline a programme for his canvasser, allotting him certain visits and checking occasionally to find out whether the calls have been made, but this is no protection against the constitutional idler. A man may make all these calls and make them in a perfunctory way which does not lead to business, or he may make plausible excuses, the truth of which cannot be investigated. The newspaper manager must trust his representative, and he finds it difficult to discover men of sufficient character to be worthy of his trust. It seems to be in the nature of man that if he works unsupervised he quickly develops weaknesses of character which remain in abeyance when he works under a routine which checks him at every turn.
The duties of a newspaper representative are simple, and what he makes of them largely depends upon the man himself. Whether he serves a small provincial newspaper, or a daily paper published from Fleet Street, his task is first to watch accounts running and to negotiate with advertisers in such a manner that a minimum of actual business in hand is only lost, and, secondly, to steadily create a new volume of advertising. The ordinary routine of the office, so far as old business is concerned, will provide him with a steady list of engagements, and much business will come his way almost automatically. A canvasser is best tested by his power to approach men who have not used his paper for advertising purposes before and to keep introducing accounts which represent new income.
The qualities necessary to success are concentration, systematised effort, and personality. Concentration will mean that the man steadily pursues his opportunities, and does not degenerate into that form of slackness which comes when effort is not supervised. System will give him an ordered view
of his own duties, spreading out his work so that every hour of his day will be occupied and prompting him to take it up at the right momeirt. On his personality when coming into contact with the actual advertisers depends his power of continuing the confidence already shown in his newspaper and of bringing into his office an increasing volume of new business.
The best method of entering the newspaper field is to start young, but many notable successes have been made by men who have entered the field with comparatively little experience. There is nothing definite to learn about newspaper representation. It all depends entirely on the man. He has a newspaper which circulates so many copies per week, its publisher values its advertising space at a certain rate, and his duty is to sell it. The detail work of doing this is the detail work which confronts a business man in any career. The actual problem of selling is a matter of personality and power of concentrating on the special problems of the newspaper. Most newspaper representatives are trained from the small country journals, and here an entrance into the field is not difficult. A man with a clean record ought not to find any great difficulty in getting a start as a junior on a small paper. Most papers of this type maintain one representative on the outside, to whom they are able to pay a fairly good salary, and need a second representative. Their difficulty is to find a man who will do the work well, and when they find such a man their resources are not sufficient to keep him. Consequently there are always vacancies in such offices and opportunities of getting valuable experience. The man who can say he has had experience on a fairly substantial property in the country ; who can prove a record as a business getter, and is a man of character, would progress by simply changing as opportunity served until he struck a paper strong enough to give him a career. If he were ambitious he would probably work through two provincial dailies, and ultimately his aim would be in the centre of the newspaper world—in Fleet Street. Conditions in Fleet Street vary materially from the conditions which prevail in the provinces, and in that centre a Fleet Street man is preferred, if his record is clean, but there are always opportunities for men with promising records who conic from the provinces.
Salaries in the newspaper field vary. There is no definite reward. On small country newspapers 19150 a year would represent the average earnings of a competent man who had not managerial control, but there is no limit to the amount of advancement the right kind of man may get. There are advertising managerships worth £2000 a year, there are many men who find no difficulty in earning £1000 a year in this field, while there are substantial appointments in the newspaper world which yield anything from ,e250 to E'750. The field also is wide. One has only to remember the number of newspapers, daily and weekly, the number of periodicals published in various interests, and the number of special publications issued in the course of a year, to see how much work there must in securing adequate outside representation for all these undertakings.