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Emma Watkins

Senior Marketing Executive – Partner Journals

Emma WatkinsPlease tell us a bit about yourself (e.g. hometown, current locale, course of study).

I live in Bristol, a city in the South West of England. Bristol is a city full of innovation, arts and music, and is home to two universities. I live there with my fiance, Michael and our little Border Terrier, Darcy. I didn’t originally decide on a career in marketing, let alone publishing, and came to it in a round about way after studying Performing Arts at Bath Spa University. When I’m not doing my 9-5, I keep my degree useful by performing in musicals and plays. I’m also an avid reader and an obsessive tea drinker, two very English hobbies.

Describe some of your current responsibilities, and what type of organization you belong to.

I work for IOP Publishing, a scientific publisher specialising in journals, ebooks and magazines in physics and related subjects. We are a society publisher, linked with the Institute of Physics. I am a Senior Marketing Executive, with a specific responsibility for partner titles. In a nutshell I plan and deliver marketing campaigns for portfolios of journals. I have a very varied job – I manage a small team (one marketing executive and one marketing assistant), meet with editorial staff and partners to discuss strategy for their journals, manage budgets, create copy and marketing materials, analyse metrics such as downloads and submissions, and provide reports on our progress against our objectives. I also co-chair the social media group at IOP Publishing, providing advice and guidance on how to use social tools to promote our journals, and also keeping an eye on the health of our social media accounts.

What was your first scholarly publishing role? How did you get that job? What path led to your current position?

My first scholarly publishing role was as a Marketing Executive at IOP Publishing, and I moved there from working in a marketing department at a local university. My experience with working with researchers and academics was a big advantage. I got into marketing originally whilst working at the university – prior to that I hadn’t really decided what I wanted to do in my career. Once I got my foot in the door, I worked my way into getting promoted to Senior Marketing Executive, taking on additional responsibility. I’d taken on a lot of partner products as an ME, and so it was natural for me to take on the SME for partners role.

If there was a pivotal moment or key person in your career development, please describe briefly.

A key person in my development has been my current manager, Claire Webber. She really supported my progression within IOP Publishing, and ensured that I had access to the right training in terms of learning about the industry. But a key moment for me was winning the Early Career Travel Grant from SSP. Not only did it allow me to progress my own exploration of scholarly publishing, but it demonstrated to my employer my commitment to my role. It also got me exposure within my company as someone who is committed to personal development, and can represent the business well.

What tools, web sites and organizations do you find most valuable for your career development?

I find newswires from a mix of industries very useful – STM Publishing News and Scholarly Kitchen are great for industry stuff, but I am a big believer in keeping an eye on the way that people do marketing outside of scientific publishing. So I subscribe to lots of marketing e-shots like Mashable, econsultancy and dot.rising. I also regularly attend conferences on marketing – especially digital marketing, which has become the basis for most of our campaigns. Finally, Twitter keeps me up-to-date with the latest marketing and publishing trends – it’s how I found out about the SSP Early Career Grant! It’s invaluable for me to be able to turn up to meetings having already seen breaking news and therefore being in a position to have an opinion and, if necessary, a plan.

What are some of the surprises/obstacles that you’ve encountered during your career?

I have to say I have found the publishing industry surprisingly welcoming, but there was definitely a lot of jargon to get to grips with before I could really understand exactly what was going on around me. Also, the rate of change in the publishing world seems to be increasing – when I started out I didn’t expect that. For me, that’s exciting, and it keeps me interested as you can’t stand still and just do what you always did. That’s as true for marketing as it is for publishing – every month there is something new to add to your marketing mix, and I find the opportunity to experiment stops me from getting stale.

What do you wish you knew more about?

Physics! Working for a physics publisher I have picked up a bit, but there are times when I am at conferences talking to academics that I wish I could ask more intelligent questions about their research. But working here has definitely piqued my interest in all things science-related, and I appreciate that, having grown up with a more arts-based background.

What advice would you give to people interested in a career in scholarly communications?

Don’t worry if your academic choices haven’t led you quite in the right direction – there is a huge variety of roles available, from the editorial teams, to marketing, customer service, sales, production…the list is endless. So start talking to people in the industry (they’re really friendly), join LinkedIn groups and start following people on Twitter, and just keep an ear to the ground till you find something that really interests you. And once you’re in, make sure you take advantage of things like LinkedIn, Twitter, company blogs and conferences to talk about things you’ve learnt and your thoughts on topical issues in publishing – have an opinion!