Association of online publishers Helping media owners build better digital business

Interview with Rob Willock, publisher, e-newsletters, RBI

Rob Willock is publisher of e-newsletters at Reed Business Information, with a portfolio that includes Caterer & Hotelkeeper, Community Care, Farmers Weekly, Flight International and Travel Weekly. (More on RBI e-newsletters)

What was your first job in media?

I joined Reed Business Information in 1994 as a recruitment sales exec, before being accepted on to the company's in-house trainee journalist scheme and working my way through the editorial ranks. I have been editor of construction magazine Contract Journal, and group editor of HR title Personnel Today.

How did you begin working online?

The 2001 relaunch of the community website ContractJournal.com was my first meaningful experience of online publishing, but it was my involvement with the award-winning PersonnelToday.com that really awoke me to the online opportunities for B2B publishing brands.

What are the main responsibilities of your current role?

My mission is clear: to improve the quality and effectiveness of RBI's content-led e-newsletters (currently 35 products across 11 markets), leading to steep increases in traffic and revenue. The job involves working closely with the editorial teams to develop compelling online content, with marketing to grow our e-mail audiences, and with sales to define and exploit the commercial proposition.

What skills do you need to do your job?

Influence and persuasion; a thorough understanding of the publishing business; plus the ability to spot and quickly take advantage of opportunities.

What are the good things about working online?

The growth potential; the pace of change; the interactivity with audiences; and the ability to win commercial advantage quickly.

...and the bad?

Blink and you've missed something!

What advice would you give to someone trying to get into the industry?

Learn the craft skills - journalism, publishing sales and marketing are fast-changing disciplines thanks to the internet, but many of the basics remain important. Know where the industry has come from and let yourself imagine where it is going. Dive into the fast streams, and avoid the stagnant pools.

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