Independent Viewpoint: Katherine Williams of IOM3
Katherine Williams, Head of Publishing of Materials World at the Institute of Materials, Minerals, and Mining (IOM3), considers new opportunities in content, reflects on the resilience of independent publishers, and reveals the singing celebrity with whom she went to school.
Ellie Austin scored a job at Immediate Media as a Features Writer for Radio Times after graduating from the Magazine Journalism MA course at City University. Here she talks about working in the fast-paced world of a major weekly magazine and the power of a good coffee.
What specific achievements have you been particularly proud of over the past 12-18 months?
Materials World being shortlisted for membership magazine of the year at the PPA Independent Publisher Awards was a boost for the team and I am proud of the hard work they put into our publications.
The completion of a digitisation pilot project, which involved scanning and keywording sample IOM3 copyright mining-related publications. There is a long way to go, but seeing how it all worked in practice was great. The items will be made available to the mining community around the globe through OneMine and potentially form part of a digital library for members.
What are the main areas of focus of IOM3?
You name it and we have some sort of link to it! As a major UK engineering institution, our activities encompass the whole materials cycle with a focus on professional development and education. From exploration to extraction, processing to end-use and on to recycling, our members have it covered.
How do you see IOM3 changing over the next few years?
IOM3 is always changing. We look for new ways to deliver our content and to connect with our members. We have recently introduced online Q&A sessions with our CEO and are in the process of a governance review, which should streamline some of our decision-making.
How do you judge the mood among independent publishers in 2016? What are you optimistic about?
The independent publishers that are still here are a resilient lot and are producing excellent content with an engaged readership. I think the mood is good and independent publishing remains strong although we have yet to see what Brexit brings.
Where do you see the biggest opportunities for IOM3 over the next few years?
The discussion and decision regarding the go-ahead of Hinkley Point C has highlighted the importance of energy generation (in all its forms) to the UK and there will be a large number of energy-associated jobs generated in the UK in coming years. This feeds into a large number of our divisions and industries and we’ll be looking to pick up new members from these industries. The magazine team will be working hard to deliver balanced coverage. Our sectors have always been international – the recently digitised content from 1915 shows members in all five continents and this continues to be the case with international membership being key to the Institute. We have opened an office in the USA and are looking to expand further.
Is there anything in particular that keeps you awake at night?
My husband’s insomnia and tendency to browse Twitter at 2AM! More seriously, the lack of understanding of copyright law shown by some of our members.
What does the publisher of the future look like and which channels present the biggest opportunities?
The publisher of the future looks a lot like the publishers of today – people who know their audience, take a chance on the idea that holds promise and can create amazing content. Mobile and personalisation provide great opportunities right now, but who knows what will be here in a decade or more?
Mobile and personalisation provide great opportunities right now, but who knows what will be here in a decade or more?
What gives you a kick about working in this industry?
Meeting deadlines, meeting incredibly interesting people, and seeing ideas turned into reality.
What piece of advice has stuck with you throughout your career?
It is easier to do the job well than to fill time avoiding it.
What are your top tips for other independent publishers?
Be clear about what you want to achieve, know your audience and your content. Never be afraid to take the chance on an idea. If something is not working change it or kill it. Be prepared to fail and come back stronger.
What’s your favourite magazine?
Women’s Health is great – although I’m still getting used to the new Editor (yes, I know I’m not the target market). I also love New Statesman.
What are you most looking forward to this week?
Meeting an American colleague about book opportunities.
Tell us something about yourself that we might find surprising?
Take your pick:
- I went to secondary school with Aled Jones of Walking in the Air fame (not the same year).
- I grew up in Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch.
- I have dislocated my left knee three times.
- I used to parachute.
- I spent a year working for a pharmaceutical company.
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