Are Circ Managers’ Gains Circ Directors’ Losses?

Are Circ Managers’ Gains Circ Directors’ Losses?

Byline: Karlene Lukovitz

Circulation managers responding to last year’s Circulation Salary Survey reported large drops in compensation in 2001, compared to 2000’s survey sample. B-to-B circ managers’ average was 6 percent lower than 2000’s, and consumer circ managers’ was a startling 18 percent lower.

Top B-to-B circulation executives were also hit by the economy last year: Their average reported salary level was down by nearly 6 percent from 2000’s. Only consumer marketing executives at the director or higher level saw growth in average salary (up 5 percent from 2000).

Given the still-shaky economy, one would expect to see little or no improvement in reported salary levels for this year’s survey. But the circ manager numbers would seem to tell a different story. The average salary reported by B-to-B circ managers for 2002 is 8.7 percent higher than that reported by 2001’s sample, and the average for consumer circ managers is fully 28 percent higher. Moreover, the highest circ manager salary reported this was considerably above those reported in past surveys (last year’s top CM salary was $82,000).

However, the 2002 data for top circulation executives (circulation director and above) is far less upbeat. Chief B-to-B circulators experienced a nearly 3 percent decline in average reported salary, and top consumer marketers saw a slight, 1 percent gain.

What’s up? Executive recruiters speculate that the most likely explanation is that circ managers’ rebounding salaries reflect changing department dynamics. Virtually all circulation professionals are seeing responsibilities multiply because of corporate consolidations and staff downsizings – and some circ managers are absorbing work from levels both below and above them. In addition to taking on the work of colleagues or lower-level staff who have been laid off, more second-tier managers are being asked to take on responsibilities previously performed by their bosses, because a growing number of B-to-B’s have eliminated corporate circulation positions. In other words, circ managers are not only being asked to supervise more titles; some, while retaining the title “manager,” are actually doing a director’s job or even handling some VP responsibilities, as they become the liaisons to their new, general-management bosses. From a publishing company’s perspective, increasing the salaries of a few circ managers is likely to be considerably less costly than keeping a higher department head count – especially if the higher-salaried positions are the ones being eliminated.

“I don’t see publishers increasing salaries in any position in any department much at present, unless there’s some really compelling reason – such as someone absorbing several jobs,” observes Gene Fixler, president of executive recruiting firm Ariel Associates.

As for the higher levels of bonuses expected by circ managers and directors alike this year, Fixler says he suspects that many of these professionals may not actually get the bonuses they’re anticipating. But Lindsay Davidson, president of The Prime Source Agency, says she’s seen many publishers increase performance-driven bonuses even as they reduce overall circ salary levels. “They want to spread the risk,” she notes. (For a more in-depth look at trends affecting circulation salaries and career prospects now, see Update, “Circulation Job, Career Prospects: Light at the End of the Tunnel?,” November, page 9.)

METHODOLOGY: On July 15, 2002, CM and Folio: mailed questionnaires to a disproportionate sample of 1,472 circulation professionals as follows: circulation directors at business magazines, 375; circulation managers at business magazines, 375; circulation directors at consumer magazines, 347; circulation managers at consumer magazines, 375. A follow-up mailing was sent on July 29 as a reminder to participate. A total of 377 usable surveys were returned, resulting in a 25.61 percent effective response rate. Data were collected between July and August 2002. Results have been weighted to reflect the following industry makeup: business magazines with more than 100,000 circulation, 16.5 percent; business magazines with under 100,000 circulation, 33.5 percent; consumer magazines with more than 100,000 circulation, 33.5 percent; consumer magazines with under 100,000 circulation, 16.5 percent. Results based on fewer than 20 responses are not reported.

Circulation Director

HIGHEST SALARY REPORTED: $275,000

LOWEST SALARY REPORTED: $20,000

Top circulation executive. Plans, directs and coordinates circulation marketing efforts. Directly responsible for budgeting and analyses of single-copy sales and all subscription programs, list rentals and database planning and maintenance.

Average base salaries for the last five years

1998

Average $65,327 (+6.2%) Business $62,892 (+8.4%) Consumer $67,530 (+4.8%)

1999

Average $72,992 (+11.7%) Business $70,430 (+12.0%) Consumer $75,311 (+11.5%)

2000

Average $77,774 (+6.6%) Business $77,910 (+10.6%) Consumer $77,639 (+3.1%)

2001

Average $77,927 (0.0%) Business $73,467 (-5.7%) Consumer $81,569 (+5.1%)

2002

Average $76,858 (-1.4%) Business $71,310 (-2.9%) Consumer $82,407 (+1.0%)

The overall average CD salary dipped for the second year in a row. However, as in 2001, that decline resulted from a decrease on the B-to-B side (albeit a less precipitous one than in 2001). The consumer CD average has continued to rise despite the economy – although 2002’s gain was just one percent.

AVERAGE SALARIES FOR CIRCULATION DIRECTORS

BONUSES

53.4% of circulation directors expect to receive a bonus in 2002, compared to 67.5% in 2001. However, the average bonus expected is $12,825 – up from $10,454 in 2001.

A DEMOGRAPHIC SNAPSHOT

Circulation Manager

HIGHEST SALARY REPORTED: $125,000

LOWEST SALARY REPORTED: $16,000

Generally, the second level of management in the circulation department. Administers circulation programs for subscriptions and single-copy sales. Handles all facets of circulation for one or more titles.

Average base salaries for the last five years

1998

Average $37,040 (+4.3%) Business $37,430 (+10.0%) Consumer $36,587 (-1.6%)

1999

Average $40,354 (+8.9%) Business $40,807 (+9.0%) Consumer $39,841 (+8.9%)

2000

Average $45,915 (+13.8%) Business $44,935 (+10.1%) Consumer $46,897 (+17.7%)

2001

Average $40,888 (-10.9%) Business $42,285 (-5.9%) Consumer $38,653 (-17.6%)

2002

Average $47,720 (+16.7%) Business $45,970 (+8.7%) Consumer $49,469 (+28.0%)

After large salary drops in 2001, our 2002 circ manager respondents reported significant rebounds. The average on the B-to-B side rose by nearly $3,700, surpassing 2000’s average. Even more dramatically, consumer circ managers’ reported average leapt by nearly $11,000 – again surpassing 2000’s average.

AVERAGE SALARIES FOR CIRCULATION MANAGERS

BONUSES

38.2% of circulation managers expect to receive a bonus in 2002, compared to 43.8% in 2001. But, as with CD’s, the 2002 average expected is higher: $4,312, compared to $3,042 in 2001.

A DEMOGRAPHIC SNAPSHOT

Circulation Earnings Abstract

A look at variables that affect circulation compensation: GEOGRAPHY, GENDER AND TENURE

NORTH CENTRAL SALARIES PLAY CATCH-UP GAME

Male/Female Pay Gap Rises, But Both Earn More as CM’s

PAY EXPECTATIONS BY YEARS IN CIRCULATION

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