TBI expands its product development and community engagement services with new appointment
TBI Communications – a leading provider of business development and marketing services, announces the appointment of Tracy Gardner as Senior Consultant – Product Development and Community Engagement.
As part of TBI’s expansion, Tracy has been appointed to provide support to TBI’s growing client base of publishing and society clients.
Lynne Miller, Managing Director of TBI said “This important new role demonstrates our commitment to supporting our clients in shaping new strategies to evolve their products and services following the global pandemic. Tracy brings a wealth of strategic marketing experience to TBI and has a thorough understanding of the pressures academic societies and other organisations working within the research communications space currently face. We are delighted to have her on the team.”
Tracy joins from Renew Consultants and has an extensive track record of consulting with a wide array of publishers, societies, and technology services. She was also co-founder of Society Street – an initiative designed to bring together leaders and future leaders of learned societies and associations to provide a forum to explore the challenges they face.
“I’m excited to join TBI and I look forward to helping our clients as they develop new ways of meeting the needs of their global communities. The last few years have been extremely challenging, particularly for academic societies, but there are many opportunities out there for them to explore.”
Results of our Vital Signs survey
The Workplace Equity Project’s 2018 survey (WE Survey) was conducted at a watershed moment for the scholarly publishing community – drawing the issues of diversity, equality, and inclusion into sharp focus and highlighting the experiences and perceptions of colleagues through the industry.
In the wake of 2020’s momentous events, TBI launched a Vital Signs study to take the industry’s pulse on DEI and understand what changes have taken place – and where there’s still ground to be made up. The study was adapted from the WE Survey against which we benchmarked for change. We also conducted poll of three questions among attendees of the Accelerating DEI: Have the Data? Use the Data! session at the Society for Scholarly Publishing’s Annual Meeting on May 23, 2021, moderated by Susan Spilka, to gauge progress through the perceptions of colleagues who are likely to be more engaged in industry efforts.
The Vital Signs survey ran through May 2021 and gathered 160 responses in total. Nearly half of the respondents (47%) were in the 36-50 age group (around 30% were between 20 and 35 years old), More than seven out of ten respondents (71%) identified as female and 82% as white, with the rest of the population identifying in roughly equal numbers as Black, LatinX, Asian, South/SE Asian, and multiple ethnicities. Geographically, more than 90% of respondents were based in North America, Western Europe, or the UK. The respondent profile is consistent with the WE Survey, although Vital Signs had fewer respondents from Asia (likely due to narrower marketing outreach).
Picking Up on Progress
Since the WE Survey, organizations appear to be making progress in diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts – over 83% of both the Vital Signs and the SSP session respondents stated that their employer had stated its values relating to diversity and inclusion (up from 60% in the WE Survey). However, the percentage of respondents who perceived their workplaces to be aligned with those values hadn’t changed since 2018. In both 2018 and 2021, about six in ten respondents (63%) reported strong or moderate alignment of the stated values and workplace experience. The SSP Annual Meeting poll results showed a higher percentage selected strong alignment (46% versus 26%) compared to the Vital Signs respondents. These finding suggest that the results of the work some organizations who recently jumped on the DEI bandwagon, may not be as widely evident to colleagues beyond the more engaged group that attended the SSP session.
Over three quarters (77%) of Vital Signs respondents – especially women and those in the UK or Western Europe – and 90% of the SSP session segment reported that their employers have implemented positive changes over the past year, perhaps a vote of confidence in new DEI committees and affinity groups that sprung up across the industry. These findings suggest some optimism, even though there is work to be done, especially regarding equal promotion opportunities based on ethnicity: The higher percentage of those polled at the SSP session may reflect the high level of engagement of that group in company efforts.
More than half of WE Survey respondents telecommuted and/or worked a flexible schedule. The pandemic’s pivot to remote work environments whet the appetite for wider adoption of such arrangements. Over 86% of Vital Signs respondents said they want their employer to continue to offer flexible options, on average 3-4 days per week. There was also a correlation on this issue between age and gender, with younger male respondents preferring to spend more time working from home than female respondents, whereas older male respondents would like to spend more time in the office than older female respondents. In the current climate, companies may be compelled to offer hybrid working to attract and retain talent. It also suggests there is an opportunity to widen recruitment to candidates who are based outside of expensive publishing centers, The gender variance may also be an indication of the uneven burden on women for family care and the need for more support from companies.
Transforming workplace and research cultures will require a long term commitment for publishers and their employees alike. Please contact us if you’d like to discuss our findings further, or if you’re interested in exploring your employee’s views on how your organization is addressing these issues.
When TBI Communications conducted the Heatmaps industry research to capture key business and marketing indicators, the scholarly publishing industry was at the beginning of a period of great transformation. Since then, digital technologies have fundamentally changed research and scholarly communications, accelerating discovery and global knowledge sharing. But a comparable paradigm shift has yet to touch our workplace culture, where ingrained biases and inequitable practices stubbornly hang on. Despite many good intentions and some welcome steps forward in recent years, organizations in our community still have predominantly male leadership, a female workforce, very few people of color at any level, and deeply rooted structural issues.
Every day leaders assess challenges, identify new opportunities, and make decisions with the best information available to benefit stakeholders. That process became far more difficult with 2020’s unprecedented, uncharted, and seismic events. It is difficult to imagine the scale of the impact in the months and years ahead but for now, we are dealing with the disruption and tragedy as best we can.
It is remarkable to see how people quickly pivoted to working, learning, and collaborating at a distance. In many ways, the global research community has been adapting to large-scale digital disruption for more than a decade. That work, across our community, has helped to make possible a medical and scientific response unlike any other in history. We can certainly find reason for hope when the world is looking to scientists for leadership and innovation: Humanity can and will overcome COVID-19 through global collaboration among researchers, practitioners, and leaders, boosted by the rapidly evolving capabilities of technology.
For everyone, it’s difficult to say when we will again feel safe – and comfortable – bringing people together again in our homes, workplaces, classrooms, and conferences. There isn’t a clear path forward for individuals, organizations, or institutions, and we don’t know when and where the pandemic’s trajectory will end. The economic reverberations are immense and higher education institutions and membership associations have already been hit hard.
Supporting sustainable scholarship and shared objectives for accessibility, transparency, reliability, and agility while maintaining the scholarly record will be more challenging – that is clear. What lies ahead for academic conferences, and university classes, labs, and libraries? The only certainty is uncertainty. Fear and necessity may take us down the road of austerity. Yet there are other directions we can take, as the two characters that make up the Japanese word for crisis imply.
At TBI Communications, we are helping resilient organizations navigate through this year’s landscape of dangers and opportunities by listening to their employees, customers, members, councils, committees, authors, and editorial boards. We are helping leaders to connect with their stakeholders to understand their experiences and insights, inform pressing decisions, and consider the future in new time horizons.
Client 1: The Electrochemical Society
The society had to cancel their North American May meeting. At the same time they needed to begin promoting their global quadrennial meeting in October. Held jointly with two international societies, the planned location has a two-week quarantine for visitors. Despite the challenges, promotion of the Fall meeting was effective. Abstract submissions are on track and they are adapting their communications to convey that the meeting format may change, but they will find ways to bring the community together.
We helped them take the pulse of the community. We wanted to learn how they were adapting to changes in teaching and research. We conducted market research interviews with several members including students and long-time members. The association’s leaders are learning first-hand how members are adapting and what they seek from their “professional home.”
We turned these interviews into a blog series: ECS Community Adapts and Advances. These stories give voice to shared challenges, to showcase the inspiring ways members are adapting, staying connected, helping others with professional development, and advancing their research (including front-line COVID-19-related projects).
“With TBI’s assistance and collaboration, The Electrochemical Society launched a campaign sharing our community’s personal and scientific responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. Our goal is to share our global members’ common experiences in this time of isolation, and highlight our community’s resilience and adaptability. These inspirational articles, based on community interviews, reassure our members that ECS is there to support their personal and professional lives.” – Shannon C. Reed, Director of Community Engagement
Client 2: International NGO
The crisis communications team reached out to us early in March. They are facing dramatically increased workloads across their global organization and wanted to assess the impact on their workforce. TBI helped them create their first Employee Pulse Survey, turning around a question bank the same morning the organization reached out to us. Within days, the crisis communications team learned that work-life balance was the top concern. By listening, the communications team and leadership team were able to prioritize their communications and demonstrate a culture of concern for those on the front lines in their responses.
TBI is available to help your organization listen and understand with market research, strategy and communications services. We can help you to:
- Quickly plan a market research program to understand your stakeholder’s priorities, to learn about the impact on your publication pipeline and event planning
- Develop communication strategies that connect your community by bridging distances and responding to needs
- Develop responsive and valued programs, services, and products
All TBI services are customized to address our clients’ specifications, budgets and timeframes.
We have a quick and affordable way to take the pulse of your community.
We’re excited to share news of our recent partnership with a major U.S. Society to expand their presence and impact in Europe.
Under this new agreement, we co-recruited and co-manage a dedicated member of staff on behalf of the Society, based in TBIʼs Oxford office in the UK. This new role oversees the expansion of the Society’s influence within Europe, working to increase engagement with decision makers and users of its products and services, partners, thought leaders, leading institutions, top corporations and government officials at both the member state and EU level across Europe.
We provide the U.S. Society with a local base, a dedicated member of staff, and the benefits of working within a team environment alongside our team with deep experience and knowledge of the scholarly communications market, and the opportunities for academic and professional societies more generally.
Our on the ground support for the Society has taken the headache out of employing a member of staff themselves with all the associated admin and costs of office space, local market taxation, employment law and so on. The TBI team is also giving the Society access to immediate and flexible additional resource as and when they need it.
If you’re considering options for expanding your Society’s presence in Europe, then please get in touch.
Awareness, Brand Development, Product Launches
- Online advertising campaign for award-winning new science magazine
- Campaign plan for new journal launch for leading European medical society
- Competitive positioning, brand concept development, messaging platform for new product launch by platform provider
- Publicity support for start-up organizations (copy-writing; Ghost writing for senior leadership team with placements in trade publications and corporate blog)
- Integrated email/social media campaigns (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn) to drive usage of Review Journals – copywriting, social media implementation, reporting
- Topic and article research (Impact Vizor, Web of Science) to support successful readership/engagement email campaigns
Product Strategy/ Customer Insights/Market Research
- Competitive analysis, quantitative and qualitative market research to inform publication strategy/product development
- Membership satisfaction research to inform program and communication development for world-recognized international scientific and professional societies
- Persona development for membership organization based on customer insights research
- Market research regarding new pricing models for textbook affordability and student engagement for global technology solutions provider
- Website analysis for launch in Asia market
“Thought-provoking content, excellent speaker choices and a diversity in the audience which led to good discussion and networking opportunities.”(Attendee feedback)
Save the date for Transforming Research, September 26-27, 2019. This conference brings together leaders from the research ecosystem for engaging discussion on trends and methods that promise to advance research endeavors across all fields. The conference will be hosted by the Institute for International Science & Technology Policy at George Washington University.
The call for presentations is now open through May 30, 2019. You can submit a presentation idea here.
This year’s themes are:
* Data governance and open data
* Macro scale research transformation and Plan S: how government and funders effect change
* Entrepreneurialism, collaboration, and economic impact
* Managing the cycle of research planning, portfolio management, and evaluation
* Science analytics for portfolio management and opportunity targeting
We encourage participation from across research endeavors, including humanities, social science, and STEM fields.
Click here to see past program topics and speakers and learn more.
TBI Communications has regularly attended the ALPSP annual conferences for the past ten years. The Conference has always offered a wide-ranging program, expert speakers and provides a friendly forum for everyone in the scholarly publishing community to share information and knowledge, learn about new initiatives and engage in open discussions on the challenges and opportunities in the industry.
This year’s ALPSP conference had several sessions that stood out for us, one of which was the address by the keynote speaker Prof. Chris Jackson from Imperial College London. Prof. Jackson’s address titled ‘Adventures in Publishing’, gave a refreshing author perspective on several different topics and challenges in the industry. He had a strong message for the attending publishers and societies – which we thought he summarised nicely on this one slide.
In particular his point about ‘building brand loyalty, and using it to attract and retain authors’, certainly resonated with us. Many societies and publishers we have worked with recently have recognised the importance of developing author loyalty programs to build brand recognition. The starting point for our work with them is understanding author behaviours, assessing the various challenges they face throughout their career stage – whether that’s securing funding, time management, or making their research discoverable. From this research, we develop messaging recommendations, a detailed plan of marketing activities and content assets to support our author campaigns.
One of the other stand-out sessions for us was the ‘Tackling harassment and the roots of gender bias’ plenary session. The talks and Q&A really engaged people. If you would like to find out more about publisher initiatives in educating their staff – in order to manage effectively this sensitive topic, you can listen to this session here. A big shout out to ALPSP for organising this as a plenary session, and recognising its importance.
In between the opening and closing sessions, we enjoyed the fun traditional quiz night, plenty of opportunities to socialise with our clients and colleagues in the industry, but certainly, the highlight for us was celebrating the success of one of our clients – Code Ocean winning this year’s ALPSP award for Innovation in Publishing! It was another great conference and we certainly look forward to the next one.
We take pride in working with some of the most prestigious publishers, societies and technology companies within the academic publishing sector.
Working alongside very smart people on very interesting projects and making a difference in the world of research, knowledge and scholarly communication is all extremely gratifying! When our clients receive recognition for their amazing work we really want to shout out and share our excitement – so we were absolutely delighted when Code Ocean received their well-deserved ALPSP award for Innovation in Publishing last month!
“Code Ocean stood out as a shining example of a robust, well-executed, transformational solution to a real challenge for researchers, allowing them to build on the work of others more efficiently and therefore help to accelerate research” – said David Sommer, the chair of the judging panel and we couldn’t agree more.
The winners of this prestigious award must demonstrate excellence in terms of originality and innovation, significance and value to the community, utility and long-term viability and Code Ocean truly achieved it all! We hope that we will continue supporting them on their mission to accelerate research and continue making a difference in the world of academic publishing and we are very proud to work closely with their amazing team.
Here is a shout out too for the projects we’ve been involved in during recent months with our various partners:
Digital Marketing Campaign Planning, Implementation and Reporting
> Managing Google Display Network campaigns, optimization, and reporting
> Researching media and social media channels for online advertising opportunities, placing ads, reporting on conversion
> Targeted multi-channel campaigns to drive awareness and convert to readership/newsletter subscribers (email, social)
Thought-leadership and publicity
> Ghostwriting for a CMO in Marketing Tech Outlook
> Press releases/content placement in industry news channels
> Awareness and perceptions of Higher Education Course Materials Delivery Models
> Brand perceptions of top scientific journals among researchers and librarians
> Research programme to explore the market need for a potential new ‘gold-standard’ reference product in a highly targeted subject area.
> Led the first membership research programme for an international membership organisation, exploring the relevance and visibility of the organisation to groups around the world
General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
> Advised several clients on best practices to ensure legacy customer and prospect data were assessed ahead of the General Data Protection Regulation coming into force, and helping establish GDPR-compliant workflows.
If you would like to find out how we can help you accelerate your organisation’s growth don’t hesitate to contact us, we would be delighted to share our insights.