Business Readers In Search of Rigor And Relevance

David WanWhat do readers hire us to do?  The editors of one of the world’s most recognized and respected business publications asked themselves just that over five years ago.  Answering the question inspired a transformation of the organization and a reinvention of the brand.

At this summer’s Yale Publishing Course, David Wan, Chief Executive Officer of Harvard Business Publishing, detailed his view of the virtual cycle of content and how it drives HBP content, moving from blog to magazine to book. The key is to organize everything around the reader’s needs and expectations.

“We decided that our primary audience or readers are senior executives or those aspiring to responsibilities of general management, meaning they are starting to take on a P&L responsibility.  The jobs that they’re hiring us to do is to present them with what we believe are important ideas in management that they should understand but, more importantly, be able to apply,” Wan tells CCC’s Chris Kenneally.

Readers have prized Harvard Business Review since 1922 for its high-value content, even if they did not always read that content immediately. With that understanding, HBP editors identified a new direction to pursue in the digital environment.

“What we wanted to do is to balance our rigor with relevance – not taking away from the rigor but to make sure that what we present is both timely – meaning that they really are important ideas in the context of today’s challenges that leaders in many organizations face – as well as enduring, meaning that those ideas hold up for years to come in terms of how they are applied and what impact they could have on that individual or on their organizations,” explained Wan.

Before joining HBP in 2002, David Wan was president of the Penguin Group, the global consumer book publishing division of Pearson, where he was responsible for approximately $1.2 billion in revenue from three primary operating divisions in thirteen countries.

Taught by members of the Yale School of Management faculty and innovative industry leaders, the Yale Publishing Course attracts  mid- to senior-level professionals in all areas of publishing from around the world for interactive discussions that challenge business assumptions and inspire innovative thinking.

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