All 5 entries tagged Marketing

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February 26, 2019

Raising Local Visibility

In the past few weeks I’ve been engaged in a bit more of marketing push for Exchanges, largely because I continue to be acutely aware that our visibility across even Warwick leaves something to be desired. I confess, I’ve held back a little bit on promoting Exchanges within Warwick, due to our desire to increasingly ‘consciously uncouple’ the journal from the original ‘local brand’, and to try and attract more manuscripts from external scholars. This has worked to a degree, and I continue to be delighted each time I receive a new submission from a scholar globally. That said, one of our core strengths has always been some truly excellent, reflexive and critical papers from our ‘local’ scholars here in Coventry. Hence, to try and refresh this awareness locally I’ve recently sent out mailshots to key people across campus, in an effort to get some of our promotional literature and call for papers in front of post-graduate and early career researchers alike. If you’re the recipient of one of our promotional packs, including free gift, do let me know if you’d like to know more.

Part of this marketing too has been engendered through meeting significant campus figures. I met last week with Sandy Sparks, a key figure in Warwick’s researcher professional development programme. Sandy’s been a supporter of Exchanges right from the very start, and I was delighted to finally get the chance in her busy schedule to talk about the current direction of the journal. I know too that Sandy’s got the ear of many senior researchers across campus, so I couldn’t wish for a better informed or gracious advocate for the title.

Further afield too, I had the chance a couple of weeks ago to meet with visiting Monash University’s International Partnerships Manager Allan Mahler. Principally we were talking about ways in which their university can help, support and recognise the contribution made by my excellent Monash editors, but the conversation diverged to ways in which Monash can do more to raise the visibility of Exchanges among their research communities. I know from personal experience in recent weeks that raising awareness even for a part-time member of staff can take a lot of time out of the available work time. For my editors, who are contributing to the journal alongside their regular studies and employment, I can only imagine how challenging it can be! That many of them still make herculean efforts to raise awareness of the title for potential authors, readers and reviewers makes me so damned proud I could glow!

We’re fortunate that Monash and Warwick, though their University Alliance, have such strong links, and I’m hopeful my discussions with Allan will bear tangible fruit as this year goes on. If nothing else, I’ve increased the awareness of the Alliance of this locus of ongoing, scholarly and impactful collaboration between our two universities. In time, I hope I’ll be able to repeat this conversation with partnership managers from our other global research partner institutions.

The question remains, will all this effort actually increase the readership, author submissions and regular reviewers? I can’t say for sure yet. I’ll certainly continue to take every opportunity I can to promote Exchanges and our vital mission to champion publication and facilitate contributions to scholarly discourse from early career and post-graduate researchers!


November 19, 2018

Come Link In with Exchanges

One of my ongoing (and probably never ending) tasks, is increasing the visibility of Exchanges. As a journal for interested readers, as a publishing destination for potential authors, and hopefully a scholarly work reviewers will be generous enough to contribute to as well. While in discussion with my illustrious Editorial Board I’ve been mulling around various approaches to this end (some more old school than others), one of the most recent steps has been to set up another social media environment for the title.

In case you've missed it via our other channels, we've set up a LinkedIn group for authors, reviewers, readers and frankly anyone with even the slightest interest in what we're doing with the journal. I can't swear it's an absolute 'must read' location (indeed is ANYTHING on LinkedIn that valuable?), but hopefully this will serve to further our mission of publishing quality assured, interdisciplinary research from early career researchers.

You can find the group (and the first few posts) here: https://www.linkedin.com/groups/12162247/

Do come and join us there, you’ll be more than welcome!


October 16, 2018

The Challenges of Enhancing Scholar–Led Journal Visibility to Disparate Audiences

While we move towards the publication of the next issue of Exchanges, today I’ve been doing some background work with my Editorial Board looking towards the future. At its core is something dear to my heart as the Senior (EIC) Editor, which is considering ways to better market and promote the journal. I know for some the idea that we have to market academic scholarship leaves a rather nasty ideological taste in the learned mouth; it does in mine certainly. Nevertheless, academic publishing, even scholarly-led initiatives, operates in a domain of realpolitik; although you’ll excuse me if I’ll continue to cleave to my zeal and vision for a greater agency over publishing for the academy as a result.

The issue we face though for a currently, small and not especially well-known title like Exchanges, is we need to raise the visibility of the title, its mission and the scholarship it publishes. This is not an uncommon challenge for scholar-led titles and is exacerbated by the protectionist policies of the commercially owned key research publication indexes. I’m grateful at the very least that we appear in the DOAJ. Addressing this visibility challenge, means we need to work out ways of reaching out to hitherto unaware members of our various target audiences. In this respect, prospective authors without a doubt are a key demographic, but so too are potential members of our peer reviewer and reader communities. Alongside these there are certainly other audiences we could and should be also marketing to, although currently I’m most concerned with engaging these three most pressingly. Why? Well, without authors we have no content, without reviewers we have no quality assurance and without readers…well, there’s the existential threat writ large. Hence, this is why these are the groups I’m most concerned about making more aware of us.

So, one thing I’ve been doing recently is working out where Exchanges stands in terms of outreach: a term I’m perhaps more ideologically comfortable with than ‘marketing’, as it smacks more of activism than it does or corporatism. What I’ve isolated in my exercise is there’s a surprising range of things which myself, and members of the Editorial Board, have been doing over the past six months [1] to raise the journal’s visibility. Personal appearances at conferences and training events, developing a social media presence [2], redeveloping the website materials, considering approaches to developing ancillary and complementary media content, alongside producing the more traditional posters and flyers. Interestingly, I think my audit of marketing efforts has also revealed a tendency in the tenancy of prior Senior Editors towards unstructured, serendipitous and arguably ad-hoc promotional approaches. I may be incorrect in the assumption, but I’ve not uncovered evidence since the early years of any sustained coordinated activity. Former Senior Editors feel free to enlighten me here!

Yet, while what we have in development is all well and good it suggests two problematics need addressing with respect to audience outreach. Firstly, within the marketing mix we’ve adopted, are there other lucrative activities, opportunities or avenues which have yet to be explored? Secondly there is the question of how effective any of this marketing has been? The former question is one I’ve put to my Editorial Board, but naturally it's also something I’d more than welcome comments on here too.

In terms of the latter issue, this is something I’ve been working on establishing pretty much since I came on board, and certainly I’ve managed to make a handful of personal appearances at events and conferences to talk about the title. However, while these have been quite engaging and effective, they have been a touch Warwick centric. Given our global agenda for Exchanges, short of embarking on a 'Grand World Tour' to promote the title, they’re perhaps not the most cost or time effective promotional approach [3].

Hence, I’m hopeful that through myself and the Board adopting a more systematic approach through reviewing what we’re doing to promote Exchanges, that we’ll be able to answer these two questions more clearly. Naturally, with the added advantage of increasing the title’s visibility among our core audiences further, to everyone’s benefit! Watch this blog for more news as we move into the next phase of bringing the world to Exchange’s door.

[1] And doubtlessly before, but my journey with Exchanges started back in April, so please excuse the slight temporal myopia.

[2] Yes, of which this blog is a facet. So too is our twitter account (@ExchangesIAS), which you really should be following.

[3] Although I stand by my maxims of ‘ABM’ (always be marketing) and ‘Anywhere, any place, any time’, if people do want to hear about Exchanges from me in person. I'll keep the IAS VOTL on standby.


June 21, 2018

Developing Audiences

PGR ShowcaseI spent most of yesterday attending the Post-Graduate Researcher Showcase event, not particularly to view posters or hear about research, but rather to try and raise Exchanges profile as a publication destination. I had a few interesting conversations, but I remain in two minds about whether the event provided an appropriate ROI from my attendance. Doubtless, time will tell if we have any submissions from attendees, although given the increasing decoupling of Exchanges from the ‘Warwick’ brand, appealing for local author submissions represents an arguable retrograde step for engaging with our audiences. The free lunch was very nice though, and I was quite flattered to be invited in the first place.

That said, time away from my computer with only a pen and paper to hand, gave me an opportunity to do some reflecting about Exchanges’ audience [1]. I’ve been thinking our audience and readership pretty much from before I started working on the journal, and I’ll confess some recent conversations I’ve had, have very much brought this into focus. Partly, my current thinking stems from a very interesting conversation I had on Monday night with my former PhD Director of Studies [2], but discussions with some of the PGR showcase delegates have also contributed. Guess it was worth me being there!

During my talk with my ex-Director, I explained about Exchanges, what the journal has been, how it came about, the behind the scenes operations, along with the kinds of articles we publish, topped off with a broad brush overview of our mission and intent. His first reaction, after one of his characteristically long, inscrutable silences, was to ask:

But who would read a journal like that?

I think it is a fair point, well made. Many scholars have an observable tendency to read the same journals on a regular basis, often those which they themselves and their recognised peers publish in. True, they will go off-piste as the result of, say, a literature search, automated alert or following a conference interaction, but their intellectual grazing habitus [3] tends to be conservative in construction. Certainly, in my own earlier research, this conservatism was a recognisable trait, with respect to adoption of open-access praxis and journal interaction [4]. Indeed, likely where scholars do seek out other papers, chances are they go directly to their item of interest (article level access) and are less likely to consume or even be aware of the rest of that issue’s articles (journal level access) [5]. Moreover, given Exchanges is an explicitly interdisciplinary title, and scholars arguably less concerned with reading papers outside their field, a consideration emerges that in terms of developing a greater audience for the title, Exchanges faces an uphill battle.

All of which brings my back to my colleague’s question, which I’d expand from considerations of only ‘readers’ to include ‘contributors’ as authors or reviewers alike. Yes, Exchanges has survived for 5 commendable years within a publication field which continues to proliferate new journals, and markedly many similarly scholar-led titles. I’m intellectually opposed to considering publishing as a ‘marketplace’ construct, as this represents a concept too besmirched by the ideological baggage of capitalism. That aside, objective pragmatism still suggests the title operates within a non-fiscally constructed competitive environment. Within such an environment, and when accounting for our growth aspirations, our accrued intellectual esteem capital and ECR targeted USP may not be sufficiently attractive to continue operating in our traditional mode.

Simply put, we have no extant privilege or authority to expect contributors and readers to come to us. And a journal with no audience, no readers or contributors, quite simply represents an untenable scholarly endeavour.

You can, perhaps, begin to see now why the question of audience is one which concerns me as Exchanges’ Editor-in-Chief. I believe there is work to be done, both from exploring what the literature can tell us about developing a journal’s niche, but also in understanding who our audiences might be. I suspect the audience, such as it is for Exchanges today, is not the sole community whom we’d ideally embrace moving into the future.

Thus, in answering these conundrums, there are questions which our prior audiences can help answer, alongside explorations of potential or aspirational future scholarly reader and contributor communities too. I strongly suspect there are also linked topics to examine concerning the knotty questions of metrics and impact, which clearly resonate with questions around readership and contributor audiences. I would hope there are some exciting revelations which may emerge from this effort, and hence it’s a task I’ll be working on for the coming few months alongside the production of the future issues.

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[1] It also provided some time to work on some data protection planning as well, but I’m not sure the readers of this blog would be that thrilled by that segment of thought.

[2] We were supposedly planning our next paper and also a conference presentation for later this year.

[3] Bourdieu, P., 1993. The Field of Cultural Production. Cambridge: Polity Press

[4] See Chapter 7: Johnson, G.J., 2017. Through struggle and indifference: the UK academy's engagement with the open intellectual commons. PhD, Nottingham Trent University.

[5] Anecdotal, perhaps, but I’m making this assumption, based on two decades of observations from working with scholars and research students within academic support roles, and my own research interactions.


May 09, 2018

Rebranding Exchanges for a New Era

Names are always important. They clarify purpose, demonstrate intent and provide almost imperceptible social cues for readers. Two names in particular are occupying my thoughts today. The first applies to my dedicated assistant editors, who labour behind the scenes on Exchanges managing the quality assurance and copyediting processes. A fine body of scholars, who I’ve noticed are variously referred to as Exchanges ‘Editorial Team’ or ‘Editorial Board’. The former implies a more operational function. The latter meanwhile, confers a greater professional gravitas while reflecting the value their input and insight provides to Exchanges’ development as a serious, international, interdisciplinary journal of ECR research. This means, I’m schooling myself to use the latter as the default option, which means I’ll be updating all our supporting information in the coming weeks to reflect this shift.

Secondly there’s the name of the journal itself, or more acutely its subtitle. ‘The Warwick Research Journal’. If Exchanges only published research from IAS Fellows, and other Warwick researchers, then perhaps this name might still be suitable. Certainly, when Exchanges launched in 2013, this provided an encapsulation of how the journal operated and sourced its articles. However, today we’re increasingly publishing articles from researchers from a broader geographic region, within the UK but also internationally. This increased internationalisation and diversity of our authors can only be a good thing in terms of building up Exchanges prestige, and in turn, the value of publishing in Exchanges for authors. Consequently, this should also help enhance the diversity, scope and quality of articles submitted to us in the future.

This internationalisation agenda is operating behind the scenes too, as myself and the IAS Director, are looking to recruit more editors from Warwick’s global partner institutions. We already have two excellent Editorial Board members working with us from Monash University, Australia. They’ve made some great contributions to operations, along with encouraging colleagues to consider submitting to or participating in peer review processes for Exchanges. As with all my editors, the journal is enriched by their contributions.

All of which considerations lead me to the conclusion that the ‘Warwick’ part of the journal’s name increasingly doesn’t reflect the title’s full scope and direction, as much as it did in its early days. Hence, to reflect this growth and evolution of the journal, what I’m considering at the moment is shifting its name to something along the lines of “Exchanges: Journal of Interdisciplinary Research” (possibly with or without ‘the’ in front of ‘journal’). As a title I believe it projects a better statement of what the journal is about, and the kinds of articles we’d hope to host and hence our perception by potential authors and readers. It also doesn’t alter the strong brand associated with the core name, ‘Exchanges’.

While for now nothing is set in stone, Exchanges continues to grow and develop. Thus, I’d argue its name needs to do the same, as it moves forward into its next five years of exploration, revelation and discovery.


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