BUILDING SUCCESSFUL COMMUNITIES 

The money is in the conversation

Regularly talking and listening to your audience is the foundation stone of a strong community.

By Lucy Brazier OBE

The money is in the conversation

There are two key elements to publishing; content and building audiences who will pay to consume that content. We have used social media and a strategy of speaking at events to build a community that generates both.

If you had told me at the beginning of my career that I would be able to build a list where my audience kept all their own information up to date without me contacting them and that I would be able to talk to that community every day, in real-time, using them as a barometer for launching new products and generally conversing with them ad infinitum, I would have bitten your arm and your leg off. Social media is such a unique tool if you use it properly. Quite simply, it allows us to have a conversation every day.

Many years ago, before I started my own magazine company, I remember a wise presenter at one of the publishing events I attended telling me that 'The money is in the conversation'. It's a mantra that has stayed with me and is key to building our community.

In 2011, we started a conversation that is still going strong. It's a conversation about upskilling the world's administrative professionals and getting them recognised for the extraordinary work that they do within companies. It has taken me to all four corners of the world, has earned me an OBE and has seen our tiny media company develop into a core component for driving change to the working lives of the half a billion people that work in administration.

Talking to your community daily and listening to their responses means gaining their trust. But it also means understanding what they get excited about, what they are passionate about and how to talk to them in their tone of voice. The value of this cannot be underestimated. It's at the heart of everything that we do.

My publisher role has led to me travelling the world, speaking at over 500 events in the last ten years as a trainer, thought leader and keynote. It's an opportunity to spend time with my target audience and listen to other industry thought leaders to ensure we remain entirely current. Training and speaking have developed into another revenue stream, but it is also about ensuring that we stay relevant by talking to members of our community constantly, not just online, on the phone or from a stage but over dinner and at networking events. Our strategy means we are at the heart of our industry and are driving the change for our profession. Our clients write to thank us every day for changing their lives – something I have never seen before in 35 years working in publishing.

In 2011, we started a conversation that is still going strong.

This article is part of our ‘Building Successful Communities’ special feature, looking at how publishers go about creating engaged and vibrant communities. The feature includes the following articles by publishers and suppliers:

Build engagement on your platform, by Sally Arnold

The money is in the conversation, by Lucy Brazier

Create spaces online to share opinions, by Gary Clement

Community first, magazine second, by Sophie Cross

Publishers are taking community seriously, by Ashley Friedlein

Find the right voice, by Esther Newman

Audience engagement is top priority, by Charles Thiede

Build connections & be interested, by Ed Walker

This article was first published in InPublishing magazine. If you would like to be added to the free mailing list, please register here.