Current Editor of the Year, Elroy van Heerden, says a typical day in his life can best be described as a journey of continuous learning. ‘I did not start out my career as an editor, I grew into it. I did not start out as a business owner – I pursued it. I have made mistakes on my journey but I did not let it define me – my motto is to always get up and do better.’
Elroy van Heerden is the founder, CEO, publisher and editor at Media Xpose and we asked him for a glimpse into the life of an editor of his caliber.
2021: A year I never expected to be the best in my career…
Having been in the publishing industry for more than 20 years, I can honestly say each day is different.
The publishing and media industry is rarely as glamorous as the movies would have us believe – it is a constantly changing landscape with new challenges and opportunities; it is managing teams (and personalities), strategising, and implementing goals while you are simultaneously prioritising building key relationships and working hard to ensure that your publications positively impact readers. In short, most days can seem chaotic but exciting.
At the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, many of us in the publishing field were displaced as a result of the faltering economy and uncertainty. In retrospect, 2020 and 2021 were scary days, but there were also key learning curves that highlighted the importance of strategic action, diversification and taking risks. One of the things I learned during these unprecedented times was to never give up; to not only persevere, but thrive. It paid off – I was awarded the title of Editor of the Year 2021 by the SA Publication Forum, which proved that one can still achieve and excel in the darkest of times. Additionally in 2021, Media Xpose experienced the highest financial turnover since its inception 13 years ago.
Up till the end of 2021, I was a jack of all trades at Media Xpose being the CEO, publisher, head of editorial, sales director, writer and editor of six of the seven titles. Following through on the vision I have for Media Xpose to become the leading publishing house in South Africa, I employed a head of editorial, freeing me up to tackle new projects and focus more on the mentorship of employees and strengthening relationships with stakeholders. While, from an editorial perspective, I handed over the bulk of the titles to the new head of editorial, I remained editor of two titles – one of which is set to officially launch later this year.
As an entrepreneur, my day kicks off the minute I wake up and have a cup of coffee at home – my brain is constantly churning as I try to find ways to improve operations and motivate my team. By the time I get to work, I am ready to implement new ideas, coach team members and assist where needed.
My way of working and staying organised is old school – I have a love for all things print, even my diary of scheduled meetings is handwritten in a paper diary and not on some fancy app. As a hands-on leader, my day progresses with assisting my employees in any capacity they need – sometimes by helping my sales team close deals with clients or helping them strengthen their pitch. I touch base with editorial, production, events and media partners, and the distribution team to smooth over challenging areas. I assist them in finding possible solutions and discussing creative ideas. I work with the digital and social media department to see how we can improve our digital and social media offerings and find ways to ensure growth. I also engage with clients to see how we can collaboratively work towards maximum exposure for their businesses and plot their future growth.
As previously mentioned, I am old school, but I believe a key component to running a business is getting out of your comfort zone to keep up and get ahead of trends. Over the past few months, we have grown the company and brought in additional specialists, particularly from a digital perspective. The reality is that while print remains a core component at Media Xpose, we have invested in expanding our social media and digital reach. I have spent a considerable amount of time working with the digital team and we recently launched new websites. We are also finalising digital and social media plans that will increase our digital presence, thus expanding our readership reach and adding more value to what we can offer clients.
Launching new projects
Another passion project of mine, is the new title we are officially launching later this year, Essential Flavours – a food- and wine-focused publication. As the editor of this title, I am laying the foundations to getting contributors on board, writing with purpose, assisting the designer in creating the look and feel of the title, and looking into creative campaigns to launch the title in a printed and a digital format.
A typical day can best be described as a journey of continuous learning. I did not start out my career as an editor, I grew into it. I did not start out as a business owner – I pursued it. I have made mistakes on my journey but I did not let it define me – my motto is to always get up and do better. Right now, my eye remains firmly on further growing and empowering my team so that Media Xpose can continue to provide our readers and clients with service excellence through insightful articles, creativity and providing enabling platforms for maximum exposure.
Some of the titles that Media Xpose publishes.