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Evolved Media Solutions MD Russell Pierpoint on publishing

Tim Gibbon (Social Media Portal (SMP)) - 11 February 2016

Managing director at Evolved Media Solutions (EMS) Russell Pierpoint shares more on multi-channel publishing

Evolved Media Solutions logoSocial Media Portal (SMP): What is your name and role at Evolved Media Solutions (EMS)? 

Russell Pierpoint (RP):
I’m Russell Pierpoint, managing director at Evolved Media Solutions (EMS). My role is broad-ranging – from being the senior point of contact for many of our clients to business development and managing our developer teams – not to mention taking our office dog, Hades, for his daily constitutional.

SMP: Briefly, tell us about EMS

RP: EMS specialises in efficient multi-channel publishing for media companies, agencies, retailers and corporates. We help clients automate their publication processes in order to save money and time, and achieve the goal of publishing on all channels (print, web, mobile, email, social media, video, etc.) – ideally without expanding existing teams.  From workflow systems to digital asset management (DAM) systems to digital publishing software to cloud content management systems (CMSs), we help businesses of all sizes join the digital publishing evolution. 

Photograoph of Russell Pierpoint, managing director at Evolved Media Solutions (EMS)SMP: When did you start the company, how many people work there and how is it funded? 

We set up in 2007 as a self-funded business (which we still are) and we now number over 10 members of staff.

SMP: Who are your clients and why? 

RP: We work with clients in publishing and media, brands, marketing and PR teams, communications agencies. Essentially we can help anyone looking to launch or improve a digital publishing offering, manage creative workflows better or who need digital asset management services.

SMP: What services do you provide for clients and why do they need them?

RP: We are primarily a systems integrator, consulting with clients to help them understand what their needs really are and identifying the best software and platforms to fulfil these. 

We then build a bespoke solution for them, integrate it with the tools they already have and, importantly, train their staff and hand hold them to ensure that everyone knows how to use the new system.  However great the system is that we create, the real business change comes from making sure that people know how to use it – and getting them to incorporate it into their daily activities.

SMP: Why is it important to have content multi-platform/device ready? 

RP: Consumers can view content anywhere, from laptop to mobile, from smart TV to tablet and even now gaming platforms and more besides.  That’s how people want to consume their content – different devices, different places and different times.  If a company is serious about developing an effective content strategy to engage consumers, they need to ensure that their content can be delivered where their customers want it.

SMP: How do you / can you make content searchable and visible? 

RP: At EMS we are one step back from making content searchable as that aspect is handled by the content delivery products such as WordPress and Drupal.  However, our role here is still important as what we do helps organise content so it can be found more easily.  For instance, our software partner WoodWing’s digital asset management system, Elvis, uses a powerful search engine itself to allow people to easily find content assets.  We also provide a mix of automatic and manual tagging to apply to, and enrich, content to make it easier to find.

SMP: What are the main issues that you find clients have with publishing their content and how do you resolve them?

RP: Clients often have lots of old manual workflows and disconnected processes that are holding them back and creating inefficiencies.  We help them streamline these and make processes more transparent to everyone in the business.  Ultimately, we help them to become more efficient with creating their content and delivering it to more places and devices.

SMP: What are the challenges that you’ve encountered and how are you overcoming them in what you have been doing so far at EMS? 

Evolved Media Solutions homepage

The technology is the easy bit!  The hard part is the business change that we inevitably are involved in. Being human is being resistant to change – and typically people underestimate massively the amount of business change required to do things better.  Whether it’s a publisher extending its offering across more channels, a brand creating an editorial-based website or an entertainment company looking to facilitate the sharing of its content across other platforms – to do this well requires much more than the implementation of a technology solution.

SMP: What are the high moments of what you have been doing so far? 

RP: Last year was a particularly exciting year for us. 

Working with Adobe and WoodWing’s content creation tool Inception , we created an app for the National Theatre called ‘Backstage’ which uses content to engage with consumers and theatre lovers around the world. This was a huge success and chosen by Adobe to be their Showcase App for the launch of its new digital publishing solution (DPS) in 2015. We were flown out to New York for the launch event and also appeared at a similar event at the National Theatre in London to talk about how we created it in front of an audience of major industry players. 

We also created a digital asset centre for Sky using Woodwing’s Elvis system to enable easier sharing of its enormous stock of still images for its shows and movies.  This received worldwide media coverage when it launched and has revolutionised how Sky engages with partners and agencies.

SMP: What do you see as the biggest challenges and opportunities for the publishing sector and how can they be overcome?

RP: Challenge number one is the continuing decline in ad revenue and how to counteract that.  Challenge number two is how they cope with the increasing number of ways in which content needs to be delivered, but with less staff.  However, the digital world is opening up new revenue streams for publishers, creating real opportunities for the more innovative businesses in the marketplace.

SMP: What makes EMS stand out from competitors and why? 

RP: We have great technology but, as for most businesses, what really makes us stand out are the people.  Our team has years of experience working with publishing and media clients which gives us a deeper level of understanding of the issues that these companies face – so our solutions are built around the bigger picture and business issues and objectives ahead of the technology that will help them get there.

SMP: What do you think is going to be the most interesting aspect regarding publishing, DAM and digital assets for the next 12 to 18-months and why? 

RP: It’s the fact that now anyone can be a publisher.  A case in point is our client The National Theatre which sees itself as a prolific publisher, but it is clearly a long way from the traditional definition.  And take a look at CocaCola too.  It's a website, but it is a multi-faceted communications vehicle that engages far more deeply with consumers than ever before – with editorial style content tackling issues such as obesity head on, news about research into the issue and about what the brand is doing to counteract it.  This makes Coke a bona fide publisher of content that is avidly consumed by a huge number of people.

SMP: What are your top predictions for publishing (and digital publishing) for the next 12 to 18-months and why?

RP replies with:

  • Content. The rise and rise of content and the need to fuel its flow means we’ll see more publishers getting smart about syndication and licensing, using technology to facilitate its sharing.
  • Asset rights. It’s still a bit like the wild west out there in content land when it comes to people understanding what content they are allowed to use and how. As publishers and others that create content become more precious about its ownership, I wouldn’t be surprised to see more legal action as they assert their rights over those that misuse it.
  • Consumer first. Publishers will start focusing more on how technology makes life easier for consumers, rather than for their business.  I would therefore expect to see more things such as instantly streamed content via publisher apps (rather than having to download it) and also more personalised content, allowing consumers to decide how they want to discover and collate it, according to their own unique interests.
  • Creativity. I hope to see more publishers experiment with the creativity that technology allows them, with tools such as geolocation, gyroscope and virtual reality opening up exciting new doors in consumer engagement.
Evolved Media Solutions Sky

SMP: What are your top overall publishing tips for publishers and why?

RP replies with:
  • Don’t simply replicate your print magazine on other devices. Consumer expectations of digital formats are complex and can be very different from print magazines.
  • Rethink your payment model. Subscriptions are a barrier to entry for digital publications as consumers expect digital products to be free; after all, the cost of setting up and running digital magazines is significantly lower than for print.  So, be creative about revenue, with payment models that enable consumers to participate at the level they want, with a pricing scale that reflects this.
  • Be more savvy about technology. There is an issue with joined up thinking when it comes to publishers and technology.  They are briefing firms to create apps which are duly delivered on brief.  However, only a few technology firms are helping publishers see the bigger picture about what tech can really do for them.  In fact, what would work really well is for tech firms, publishers and retailers to work together to create digital publications that provide inspiration, connectivity and experience that take consumers on a journey from the spark of an idea through to purchase.
  • Think bigger. Too many digital publishers are stuck thinking in analogue terms, which means 7,000 subscribers is viewed as a success.  However, compare that to YouTubers often have millions of subscribers, and you can see they’re thinking too small.  Publishers need to understand that their competitors have changed, but that there is also a potential for huge audiences if they get it right.

SMP: Best way to contact you and EMS?

Direct Dial: +44(0)20 8669 1804
Mobile: +44(0)788 1911430
Tweet: @russpierpoint
Russell Pierpoint on LinkedIn

Now some questions for fun

SMP: What did you have for breakfast / lunch?

RP: Croissant and a coffee with our PR team going through all of our answers to the above!

SMP: What’s the last good thing that you did for someone?

RP: I’ve been driving around the country taking my daughter to see the universities she’s interested in going to.  It’s been a very long, tiring journey over the past few weeks – but also a joy to be helping her on this huge next step in her life.

SMP: If you weren’t working at EMS what would you be doing?

RP: That’s easy.  Outside work and family my biggest passion is scuba diving.  So, I would be running a diving school in Mozambique, swimming amongst the Manta Rays and helping in their conservation.

SMP: When / where did you go on your last holiday and why?

RP: When we went to the National Theatre app launch for Adobe in New York it was the perfect excuse to extend our stay in the Big Apple followed by a few days in Key Largo. It was all wonderful.

SMP: What’s the first thing you do when you get into the office of a morning?

RP: Every day is different as most days I tend to be visiting one or more of our clients.

SMP: If you had a superpower what would it be and why?

RP: I would be able to time travel so I could experience for myself the way the world was at different stages of its life – where I live I am surrounded by old battle of Britain airfields, Croydon, Kenly, Biggin Hill. I would love to see these in their heyday. But many other things as well.

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