Rachel Shand – CAP Marketing Manager:
I’m writing this piece on 16th March having returned to the office after a friend’s wedding in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak in the UK. It seems clear now that this will be the last large gathering I will likely attend for some time and I’m thankful it could go ahead. Tensions are high in the media and we can’t help but be glued to any news outlets to follow the latest government advice, making it a very interesting time to manage an active marketing team scheduled to attend a large number of events.
This morning one of our marketeers has already called in to say they will be working from home having shown signs of mild symptoms over the weekend, which only makes us more aware how close the crisis really is. Fortunately, we have already started to take our laptops home each evening and made plans for the inevitable, to enable us to carry on as usual for as long as possible. Our Managing Director, David Pickering, has taken proactive steps to reassure members of staff and to ensure that the team will be able to continue with their sales and marketing work remotely if required. We’ve already received several messages from our presses that they will be working from home for the foreseeable.
Today’s challenge is to make a plan for abruptly ended conference season – so far more than 25 conferences we planned to attend have been cancelled or postponed and we need to quickly find a creative and alternative way of supporting our presses and their authors during this period. Talking to the team in the afternoon we put together our strategy, dividing all the work needed to put together a program of Virtual Conference Exhibits.
Lauren will be working on compiling the materials we would normally take to conferences. These will not be sent to print, but hosted digitally on our website and made available to download. Katie will start to build virtual exhibit pages for each meeting, collating the host of valuable materials we hope to be able to pull together for each meeting. Charlotte and I will be working with each of the presses to draw together sample chapters, links to content and anything else we might be able to find. Whilst we don’t know how things will evolve over the coming weeks and months, I can’t help but be impressed by the collective creativity the team has shown, working together to ensure that our publisher’s authors and their books receive the attention they deserve.
Some of the meeting organisers have reached out to us directly but I imagine that many are struggling to come to terms with with what it means to cancel an event only weeks before hundreds of academics have planned to travel. In the spirit of Ecosystem Edge by Arnoud de Meyer and Peter J, Williamson I have already contacted a number of hosts to talk about the feasibility of holding a virtual exhibitions and we will be working with our presses to provide as much bonus content as possible. While we cannot expect to offer the same experience as browsing through new books hot off the press and chance meetings with colleagues and editors, we can still come together to provide discounts, sample chapters, giveaways and more.
My hope is that we will be able to take all the practical steps required to minimise the long-term impact of the seeming chaos around us. Our next major task will be to furnish authors, wishing to launch their books in the coming weeks and months, with the necessary tools to promote their new book as effectively as possible.
Note: On the evening of 16th March, the British government announced that all those who can work from home should do so. The whole Mare Nostrum Group followed this advice from 17th March.
On 31st March, Combined Academic Publishers launched their Virtual Conference Exhibits: https://www.combinedacademic.co.uk/virtual-conference-exhibits/