Monday 24 February 2014

Publisher perspectives on transformation: panel at #asaconf14

Stephen Rhind-Tutt from Alexander Street Press
Stephen Rhind-Tutt from Alexander Street Press kicked off the first panel discussion by reflecting on how he struggles with a description of what he does.

He noted how it's amazing how many mission statements are similar (Google, British Library, ASA, etc). Nearly all of us help teachers teach, researchers research, students learn, and librarians serve communities. Alexander Street Press has streaming video and other digital products to stop media being a third class citizen in the library. Their mission means they have to be many things including streaming media provider, microfilm digitizer, photo library, web service, etc. 

Are publishers, agents, intermediaries all becoming one? It doesn't matter. We can deal with the naming later. What matters is having a clear mission that serves our customers, no matter where it takes us.

Eileen Welch, Director  of NEJM Group Licensing at the NEJM Group outlined how they are using social media - very successfully by the looks of it - to engage with their audiences. All their social media points to open access articles.

NEJM: geographic split of social media
Facebook is their fourth largest referrer of traffic to their site. The top 10 countries on Facebook and Twitter are divided fairly evenly across countries, not just dominated by the US. There were some pretty impressive stats from social media for NEJM and the insights it provides can sometimes be surprising: 75% of NEJM users are 34 years or younger. It gives them an opportunity to reach out to a younger group with 20 posts per week, videos, interactive short quizzes and original research.

They have also discovered the 'Ick Factor': posts with images - the more medically gruesome, the better - generate more referrals to and generate more comments and engagement.

The NEJM Twitter account has 169,000 followers. In January, it produced 135 tweets and ranked eighth as traffic source for the website. YouTube is of growing importance. They post animations, interviews and articles. Animations are summarised key findings of research article.

These shorts provide new ways to engage with their audience and allow the personality of the editor to shine through.

The Now@NEJM blog is produced by the NEJM publishing comms team and consists of two featured posts - insights and physicians in training. It alerts readers to new and innovative content and complements the content published in NEHM.

Robbetze's 'Content as patient' model
RonĂ© Robbetze from Springer Science + Business Media considered the idea of 'content as patient' with concerned 'parent/custodian - publisher/aggregator', 'institution as the physician', and 'usage data as the stethoscope'. Usage data can help you to test assumptions and insights with concrete evidence/indication of what people are looking/searching for.

Are the right services and tools there to help institutions interrogate and interpret growing amount of information? What can the role of agents and intermediaries be? There is a proliferation of vendors and providers out there from which statistics must be taken and processed and while there are some services in some countries out there, is there an opportunity for agents and intermediaries? One thing is for sure, it's getting messier and messier.

Greta Boonen from John Wiley & Sons finished the presentations by focusing on how intermediaries fit into the changing landscape.

Intermediaries: all shapes and sizes
We face challenges including the pace of change, changing needs, access and discoverability, and prioritising innovation. This presents a number of opportunities such as changing user needs, financial platforms, link workflows, industry standards and data exchange. This is the space in which intermediaries can craft solutions to match their strengths to solving these emerging issues. For the evolution of services, all stakeholders are part of the conversation about the future.

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