In Ghostbusters, it’s thrown out early in the movie that “crossing the streams” is the worst possible thing that could happen. Of course, in the non-spoof ending (which curiously isn’t on YouTube), crossing the streams ends up being the thing that saves the world.
I don’t know if co-mingling editorial and ad-sales staffs at news outlets will necessarily save journalism, but it sure as hell won’t kill it. Here are a few instances in which I think editorial and ad staffs could team up for mutual benefit:
When editorial knows what it’s got planned content-wise (long term). Say you’ve got a big “back to school” package piece set to roll out in print and online. You know who your audience is: Parents with kids and the kids themselves (to a lesser extent). Let your ad team know about it in advance—they can target their sales calls to businesses/organizations who would want to advertise around that content (stores planning back-to-school sales, Boys & Girls Clubs rolling out after-school activities, etc.).
When an ad is also a story. A&W restaurants across the country are giving away free root beer floats today and people are excited about it. I actually had a guy flag me down on Twitter and ask if the deal was good at a specific location. Know what would’ve been a great deal? Contacting the local A&W before hand and offering a little quid pro quo—for instance, we’ll offer to tease the giveaway in print/online if A&W offers free newspapers, too (or something that advertises our content).
Product placement. Before you X the tab you’re in, watch this video:
Now imagine if we would have scanned, say, 100 products in that store and then sent our ad sales teams after those companies: “We’ve got a video on this iPhone app coming out and for X dollars, we’ll include a shot of your product in the video.” The products featured are just ancillary to the real story (the app) and I’d argue there’s really no conflict of interest. Normally we’d just arbitrarily choose about 10 shots out of 100 (assuming they’re all of the same quality, etc.) during the editing process, so what’s the harm if that process becomes selective and makes money?