Partnering isn’t for sissies!

With budgets as tight as they are these days, hardly any organization or individual can afford to “go it alone” when it comes to creating and launching new programs. This means that like it or not, groups and individuals need to reach out — beyond their comfort zones — to partner with others. While I think this introduces a large number of new opportunities, managing such relationships also creates new challenges. Here is a “baker’s dozen” (13) thoughts about what such partnering requires. Ideally, these principles are dealt with in a “memo of understanding” that the two organizations sign.

Elements of Successful Editorial Partnerships

1. Want to Partner? Do the organizations really want to work together? What is the impetus for collaboration?

2. Respect: Beyond the desires of management and the perception of strategic advantage, do the staffs respect each other and would they value the creative opportunity to collaborate?

3. Importance: Is the project “important” to each organization?

4. Values and Rules: Have the values of each organization been made explicit? Have the fundamental “rules of play” been articulated and agreed upon?

5. Ability/Temperment: Do the partners have the ability to organize and run a project — one made more difficult by working in a partnership. Do they know how to motivate individuals they “don’t own?”

6. Equal Treatment: Are the organizations each going to receive equal treatment in a partnership? If not, it is clear from the outset that an imbalance exists and is acceptable?

7. Good fit: Are the organizations a good fit – do their strengths and weaknesses mesh and complement each other?

8. Resources: Will each staff have comparable resources, so that a “second class citizenship” is avoided? Will resources be shared fairly?

9. Credit: Will on-the-air credit and promotion/publicity be inclusive and comparable? Has boilerplate language been agreed to regarding the partnership and each organization’s role in it?

10. Participation: Will each staff participate equally in the conception and implementation of the programming?

11. Expectations: Are the expectations of each organization realistic?

12. Mediation: Is there a plan to mediate and resolve disagreements?

13. Residual: What is the lasting value of the collaboration, after the project ends? What does this collaboration make possible in the future?


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