Special Report: The Brand's the Thing
"This company has changed because of the use of social media and how it has allowed us to reach professionals and others in our industry," says Salomone. "We're obviously targeting some consumers on social platforms, in the hopes that they'll find out something about our books and want to buy them, or at least browse for them in-store. But that is certainly not the main goal of our company brand. It's much more about how we engage with colleagues and continue to build our reputation in those circles."
"Branding can take a number of forms. It can be in the professional world, such as business-to-business or to other colleagues—agents, authors, accounts, etc.—which actually is very important for professional and business development."
With the goal of building professional advantageous business connections, Shaw and Salomone are world-travelers. They attend every food-related conference under the sun to build their brand—searching for new authors, new trends, new market opportunities, and great grub. Rare is the day they're not in an airport.
However, in 2012, Harvard Common Press took the conference approach one step further. Instead of flying to a conference, they helped organize one of their own. The 2012 Roger Smith Cookbook Conference in New York City was organized in large part by Shaw and Salamone in an effort to bolster the company's brand and visibility—not with readers, but with the food writers and food professionals of the world.
Salomone and Shaw do allow that today's digital tools make business-to-consumer branding easier, but question whether or not it's necessary for a publisher straddling several niches to market to readers.
"With social media, it's becoming easier to build a brand for [consumers], but is it necessary [for everyone]?" asks Shaw. "It's really the authors who can and should be the brand and connect with their readers on a more experiential level. … We focus [our branding efforts] most especially on our authors, our books and our book series. We do invest somewhat in the publishing house brand, through social media, participation in trade shows, conferences and other events, but, it's more for professional development than for consumer recognition, which is an important distinction."
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