Expand mobile version menu

Circulation Manager

What They Do

Insider Info

Circulation managers are responsible for the development and operation of circulation plans for newspapers, magazines and catalogs. They can work for all kinds of publishing companies. They can also work for universities or other organizations that publish material.

A big part of a circulation manager's job involves trying to increase the number of subscribers a publication has. To that end, managers work with people in promotions, production and advertising.

Circulation managers generate print orders and oversee postage and customer service.

People working in this occupation analyze, develop and implement circulation plans. They study the results of promotions, testing scenarios, customer retention programs and marketing surveys. They then use the information to develop or modify marketing strategies.

In some cases, circulation managers might be required to write copy (sales material), approve artistic designs and layout and work with printers to ensure that marketing materials meet specifications.

Kate MacDougall is the circulation manager for a magazine. She says that circulation managers must have an eye for layout, design and copywriting. When sending out renewal notices, for instance, you would commission the writing to a copywriter, then send it to a designer for layout. "You have to know how to lay it out and how to give it to a designer. I write a lot of the copy myself."

Wayne Leek is the circulation manager with a magazine. He says circulation managers who work for magazines are more involved with subscriptions and circulation. Circulation managers who work for newspapers are more concerned with the physical distribution of the publications.

MacDougall says circulation managers are responsible for promotional materials such as full-page ads, direct-mail packages and the insert cards that are enclosed in magazines. "They are all designed to catch your attention. We figure out a sneaky way to make them more effective," she says, laughing.

Circulation managers work closely with printers. They must be able to understand pre-press and production printing concepts and the lingo of the industry. "Much of this material can't be learned by taking courses. You pick it up by working around magazines and other publications," says MacDougall.

If a circulation manager also manages a department, they will be involved in supervising employees, managing budgets and participating in the business management of the publication.

MacDougall says that large publishing companies have circulation departments. The circulation people work at one certain aspect of the work. At smaller companies, the circulation manager is responsible for everything related to circulation.

Douglas Glazer is a circulation manager in New York. He says most magazine circulation jobs in the U.S. are situated in New York and San Francisco. "Aside from that, it's a matter of going to a city and finding the magazines that are there."

In very small publications, such as with some weekly newspapers, for example, the circulation manager's responsibilities could be combined with some other job title.

Someone with a physical disability could do the job of circulation manager, provided the office is wheelchair-enabled or otherwise designed to accommodate the needs of a person with a disability. People with sight impairments might have a harder time doing the job, since circulation managers are required to check artistic designs and layout.

At a Glance

Get more people reading a publication

  • You must have an eye for layout, design and copywriting
  • You can work for all kinds of publishing companies
  • Circulation managers could have degrees in English, marketing or journalism