#OpenMarketing podcast - in conversation with Katy Alexander and Simon Holt from Publishing Enabled

Updated: Sep 30

How accessible is your marketing? Discover real-life hints, tips and links from this insightful conversation with Katy and Simon from the community initiative Publishing Enabled. As someone who has dyslexia like Katy, it's so important to better understand the community you target to really resonate and make a positive impact.


Join us in our first-ever #OpenMarketing episode from our Behind the Fluff podcast as we discuss:


  • Providing a safe space for people with a disability in the publishing industry

  • Highlighting the positives that having a disability can have e.g. adaptable thinking

  • Improving how we do marketing and how we think about communications

  • Opportunities arising from COVID-19 – flexibility, acceptance and adaptability

  • The need for buy-in at a senior leadership level for culture to change within an organization

  • Tools to measure accessibility and what you should be thinking about and trying out for yourself

  • The importance of providing information in different ways as people access and consume content in a variety of ways

  • Digital marketing that lets us constantly test, tweak and improve what we’re doing

  • Normalizing disability – the key to creating an inclusive culture


Podcast channel: Website, Google Podcast, Apple, Podbean, Spotify


Transcription (contains Amazon affiliate links):


Lou: Hello hello!


Right. This is our Open Marketing podcast series for Behind the Fluff podcast from The International Bunch. It’s specifically for those in marketing, those interested in marketing, those in academic publishing, scholarly comms and libraries.

Who are we going to be talking with today? Katy Alexander and Simon Holt, both working in the industry but here to represent a very important initiative: Publishing Enabled. Katy and Simon explore with us about:


  • Providing a safe space for people with a disability in the publishing industry

  • Highlighting the positives that having a disability can have e.g. adaptable thinking

  • Improving how we do marketing and how we think about communications

  • Opportunities arising from COVID-19 – flexibility, acceptance and adaptability

  • The need for buy-in at a senior leadership level for culture to change within an organization

  • Tools to measure accessibility and what you should be thinking about and trying out for yourself

  • The importance of providing information in different ways as people access and consume content in a variety of ways

  • Digital marketing that lets us constantly test, tweak and improve what we’re doing

  • Normalizing disability – the key to creating an inclusive culture


Incredibly important, and as someone who actually suffers from dyslexia this was very, very interesting for me and is an amazing cause, so let’s just go and jump straight in. Let’s go!


Lou: Welcome everybody to the ‘Behind the Fluff’ podcast. Now, you will find lots of great resources on our website www.internationalbunch.com/beinspired. Now back in October we ran a masterclass about incorporating inclusion into your communication strategy, which can be found on our YouTube channel and we've got a link in the description.


Now, Jason Clymo, a fellow marketeer and inclusion consultant, gave me some great advice for that masterclass, including about the social model of disability. Now, we’ve included, as I mentioned, a link to it in the description so make sure that you check it out. But in today's podcast we're going to be following on from that with a masterclass and a chat with Katy Alexander and Simon Holt, both working in the industry but here to represent a very important initiative: Publishing Enabled. Simon and Katy are going to provide valuable insights and perspectives to us as marketeers to communicate better. So, welcome Simon and Katy.


Katy: Hi. Thanks for having us.


Simon: It’s good to be here.


Lou: Fantastic. Right, now before we get started, I have one question for each of you, and something we ask everyone before we do a podcast. We have a campaign that we do every day which is called #IntBunchWordOfTheDay, and we post a word of the day on our social channels. You can imagine doing 364 of those can be quite a task, so poor Yasmin, but she's been doing an amazing job. But we'd love to know is, out of all the words in the world, Simon, what is your favourite word? And what does it mean?


Simon: My favourite word is laughter because I think without laughter the world is a pretty joyless place, and I think that it's one of those quite emotional words. There are a few words actually that just have universal positivity, but I think that is one, and so I try and get even a little bit of laughter in every day, even throughout these strange Corona lockdown times.


Lou: Absolutely. You don't do some kind of laughter therapy, do you, where you just sit there and randomly start laughing?


Simon: In a kind of madcap laughs kind of way?


Lou: Oh my goodness, just like I just did then. But yes, ‘Ha, ha, ha, ha!’ - people do that as a form of release don't they?


Simon: Yes, I mean, people say to me that I have quite a distinctive laugh, so maybe you'll see that later on. We’ll see how this pans out.


Lou: We will have to get you laughing. That would be awesome. And Katy, what about yourself?


Katy: I found this really difficult, but I think it's serendipity. One, I just like the way it sounds, but also I'm a generally positive person and I think I love this word because it conveys the kind of beauty and the adventure that small and big chance occurrences can bring to life. And it's not just in life; but even in, I guess if you think about the industry we work in, it's all those unexpected discoveries that have just changed the world.


Lou: Absolutely. Two brilliant words. So now, what I'd love to hear more about, and I know that the audience would as well is, talk to me more about Publishing Enabled. Why was it founded?


Simon: I can go first on this. Katy and I, and a couple of other people, felt that we wanted a space within the publishing industry where people could feel supported, people that have a disability or have caring responsibilities who are interested in this area. And also, where we could maybe provide some resources in terms of best practice. We feel that for other demographics, whether that's gender, race or LGBT, there are some quite cogent communities within the industry, but we felt that was missing for disability. I think disability is something where not only can people feel a bit on their own with it sometimes, but also I think it can be quite tricky to convey disability in a positive light because every time you meet somebody, inevitably you end up talking about what you can't do rather than what you can do. So we wanted to provide a positive voice for the publishing industry where we talk about the strengths and the skills like problem-solving adaptability, thinking in a different way that having a disability has given us in order to show the value of people within the publishing industry. And so that those people are able to feel more supported whatever company they’re at and to feel like they're part of something and not on their own and left out.

Lou: Is there anything you want to add to that, Katy?


Katy: No, I think Simon summed it up beautifully.


Lou: So if you have people in the industry for whom what you said really resonates with them, is there a good way for them to contact you?


Katy: Yes, so at the moment we are working on our website, but we do have a live LinkedIn page, so you can contact us through there, or you can email either Simon or myself and we'll be happy to get back and answer any questions.


Lou: Perfect. Thank you so much. So, tell me…I've got my question here and I'm thinking, it's quite similar to what Simon's just talked about, but I wonder, in terms of the actual emotional passionate side of things, tell me more about where your passion to be part of Publishing Enabled comes from? Katy, if we start with you.

Katy: I think there are a few reasons: one is that I just want to make things easier for the generations that are coming and starting out a career. I've had 20 plus years now in the industry and I concealed my disability through most of it because I was, for various reasons some of them personal, kind of that feeling of being ashamed and thinking less of myself, thinking I had to prove myself, also thinking of reactions that other people might have if they did find out that I was dyslexic, so I think part of it was trying to help change and have a more positive view on all the things that we do bring. That was so important to me, so that other people starting out their career just have an easier time and we clear up a lot of these misconceptions that are out there.


Lou: Absolutely. And Simon?

Simon: Yes, that's what it was about for me too. I found it quite challenging to get into the publishing industry, mainly, looking back, because a lot of hiring processes and interviews were set up in a way that I couldn't really access. I'm visually impaired so an example would be, if I was applying for a job as something like an editorial assistant that didn't involve proofreading, you'd have a proofreading test to assess your general publishing competence. Well, that's great if that's part of your job, but pretty irrelevant if it’s not. Obviously, as someone who's visually impaired that would be impossible, for me. So I want to make it easier for the next generation, but also, as I've moved through my career, I realized that a lot of the things that I thought were weaknesses in terms of having a disability actually were strengths, and the reason that I've been able to do things differently or been successful is not despite having a disability, it’s because of having a disability. And actually, for me, I thought, hold on here; there is an opportunity, not just for individuals but for businesses to really make use of a talent pool that they're not taking advantage of, and therefore, I think that we have a role to play in educating people and maybe changing some of the stereotypes.


Katy: Yep.


Lou: Fantastic. You have an article that you did in Scholarly Kitchen, which we will include a link to as well in the description, and it's a fantastic article. In it you discuss about culture and lack of awareness being behind the poor representation of people living with disabilities in the scholarly publishing industry. Now, that was two years ago; how have things changed and what has been done to establish or even progress change?


Katy: One: I can't believe it's been two years.


Simon: I know, right?


Katy: It may be that the last 12 months have been a bit of a blur so it's kind of like time has stood still, and I don't know if it's because I'm looking for it now, or more people are generally talking about it, but I do feel like there's more of a discussion happening around it. I've seen more EDI policies coming up where disability is a bit more of a focus. I think there's still a very long way to go. I think it's kind of just starting out. But I think, and hopefully, I'm not just seeing things because I'm focusing on it more but I do feel like there's a lot more discussion in the industry around disability within publishing.


Simon: I would agree with that. I think attitudes have changed a lot. Attitudes are changing from can't do, to can do. I think that there is a greater culture within the industry generally of D, E and I, and bring your whole self to work. Actually, one of the few advantages of the COVID-19 crisis is that people have been forced to be a lot more flexible about work and their working environments and conditions, and therefore, not just with disability, but with all kinds of different situations. It means that workplaces, I think, are a lot more flexible and willing to make adjustments and adaptations. I think, as Katy said, there's a long way to go and I think there's still quite a gap between wanting to do the right thing and then knowing what the right thing to do is and having policies in place, but I think that I can at least have a discussion now and say, these are some issues and these are some proposed solutions, and be taken seriously, as opposed to in the past where it's been, that's very nice, but we can't really help you because you don't fit into our traditional way of doing things.

Lou: Absolutely, and you're right: EDI is very much higher on the agenda than it used to be. I've been to several EDI sessions, but I think outside of this podcast and our discussion here, we chatted, us three, a few weeks ago, and talking about the landscape with EDI and the importance of it. It was interesting when we were chatting in that one of the things that you had highlighted to me, Simon, and I then went on to go to an EDI workshop straight after we chatted, and I took some of that feedback into that session.


One of the really interesting points that really resonates with me, still sits with me and will sit with me for a while, is when you’d mentioned about how it's fantastic to see the progress that is happening with EDI, but when we're looking at representations from companies, organisations and institutions, it's about how exactly are they adopting this moving forward? It's not just about having someone to be a representative but it’s actually starting to think about building teams and having people who are responsible for it at the top, and then who are ensuring that there's an overarching strategy across the organisation.


This podcast is obviously marketing related, but and it is listened to by others outside of marketing in the publishing industry and beyond, but actually, EDI touches everything and anything; any of us do, so it's really important. I was so pleased that we had that discussion because I took that feedback into the working group that I went into because it's so important that organisations start thinking about this in a really committed way.


Katy: Yes, I think that hits the nail on the head. Companies, if they truly believe in it, they need unequivocal leadership buy-in and consensus for their initia