What does a publisher do? Interact with communities
What does a publisher do is a series of posts designed to answer that question, interpreted not in the sense of “What functions does a publisher seek to fulfil?” but rather “What operations does a publisher (well, this publisher at any rate) perform?” This is the seventh post in the series.
The second post (‘What does a publisher do? Manage stakeholders’) in this series set out a framework for subsequent posts – a framework based on the types of stakeholders a publisher needs to work with. Today’s post focuses on management of interactions with one of the four ‘non-trading’ stakeholders included in the framework, namely the community. Thus:
‘Community’ is of course a term in need of some definition. In most stakeholder management texts with which I am familiar ‘community’ means, first and foremost, the local district(s) in which the business is based.
Our main aim regarding the local community is simply to avoid causing nuisance. Many commentators on stakeholder management would regard this rather passive stance as unimaginative and unambitious. I am, however, happy with it. We make minimal demands on the local community and, indeed, make a contribution through purchasing from local suppliers and services. In particular, we use two small rural post offices: we hope our patronage will help save them from the axe that has fallen on so many others.
We do on occasion adopt an activist stance. An example is membership of the Mid Anglia Rail Passengers Association (MARPA), a much-needed group seeking to protect and improve regional rail services.
Overall, however, our approach to the local community may be described as low temperature. The main reason for this is that for a company like ours, which is not selling to a local market, it makes little sense to equate ‘community’ with ‘local community’. Digital technology tends to obliterate distance. For example, we happen to employ the services of a local editor, but we also use an editor who lives in the north of England: our e-mails to them take the same amount of time to arrive in their in-boxes. In what sense, then, is one editor more local than the other?