Who Owns ‘Your’ Advertising Files?

Do you really own and control of your newspaper’s advertising files? Without a written policy you could lose control. Further, who “owns” the balance of the sales commission when your rep’s employment terminates, for whatever reason, with six months remaining on an account contract?

The wrong answer to these critical questions can deflate the value of your newspaper! No savvy buyer wants on the butt end of an errant account rep’s departure coincidental with an ownership change.

Sans a written policy formally acknowledged by all personnel handling advertising account files exposes a publisher to piracy with its obvious financial risks. A prudent publisher establishes policies clearly defining management of account files. These policies should claim ownership for the newspaper and define how the files are managed. As the publisher’s property, these important files should never leave the premises. The contents and quality of the files should be dictated. Confidentiality should be a part of your stated policy.

Another issue that can frustrate a smooth ownership transition involves disputes over sales commissions following an account rep’s termination. Again, lack of established (written) policy can create an ugly contest.

An account rep books a 12-month advertising contract but terminates employment with several months remaining on that retailer’s commitment. Minus a written policy courts could support an ad rep’s claim to the full 12 months commission, even though another disgruntled salesperson must service the balance of the contract. Multiply that exposure by many files and you have an ugly situation.

These unhappy scenarios can be avoided with written policies that benefit both employer and employee, as well as your prospective buyer.


Comments and questions are welcome and may be directed to Dave via email: dave@gaugermedia.com or at (360) 942-3560