Publishing partnerships: five tips for a happy "marriage"

March 26, 2015 Sarah Phibbs

Source: Getty Images

As the world’s leading publisher for societies with over 900 membership organization partners, Wiley is in a great position to talk about the formula for a successful “marriage” between publisher and association. My first experience of a partnership agreement was signed in 1996 with the International Organization for Migration. This was a whirlwind romance which took place over a few months but we quickly formed a strong bond and worked out what their journal and organization needed – independence, international authorship and global exposure.  The fun comes from listening, applying your knowledge of the market and devising a strategy accordingly. Some of the ingredients might be the same – frou frou dress, wedding cake, disco – but the Kardashians and the British Royals have very different ideas for their wedding days and their subsequent married lives.

So here are my top 5 tips for a good partnership:

  1. An engaged courtship offers the chance to get to know each other well. Good partnerships can come from an exchange of documents and a cursory email exchange, but the strongest come from time spent together. Ask a potential partner to hold a strategy day with you, so you can discuss long-term plans and meet their technology leaders, and they can show you evidence of what they say.
  2. A great wedding list should match your core objectives up with key services. From traditional one-stop shop support on subscriptions management, typesetting, distribution, and rights to innovative dynamic services such as apps, websites, social media support, career centers, and eLearning. Access to business might also join the list: from user experience testing teams, to peer review management experts, to persona development. Make (reasonable please!) requests as this helps us change and grow.
  3. A shared plan for life together formed from market insights and benchmarks for success; this plan should identify opportunities for growth, whether they be Open Access, new authors from emerging markets, the need to build policy relationships, language services for authors, plans for new products - books, magazines, newsletters - or making a global impact.
  4. Successful extended family relationships means meeting the needs of your Editors, President, Chief Executive, Publications Chair, Communications Officer etc. What information do they need to take action in their roles? How can we make them successful?
  5. Strong regular communication should run throughout - from day-to-day email exchanges to longer term retreats. Commit time to explaining your needs. Don’t wait until the contract is up to complain, or share your concerns for the future. Equally, please tell us when we are doing well. We need to feel rewarded for a job well done. Our job is to respond and meet your needs. We can find a Managing Editor at short notice, a supplier for your conference app, or a speaker for your conference for early career researchers on publishing with impact. We have probably done it before somewhere around the globe with another partner in another field. And we might also challenge you to do things differently. Where appropriate, we are encouraging our publishers to challenge the status quo and, with evidence, ensure we are responding to the changing needs of our members, authors, readers, and researchers.

So, the top 5 list is complete. Of these, the most important is #5, “Strong regular communication”- as we all know, that’s the secret to a long and successful relationship – so pick up the phone today!

Source: Getty Images

About the Author

Vice President, Society Management // Sarah Phibbs is Journals Publishing Director at Wiley. Over the last 20 years Sarah has played a major role in developing strategies and publishing solutions for academic societies and learned institutions. Sarah has a BA from the University of Newcastle upon Tyne in English Literature and Psychology.

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