Firebrand Community Conference Inside Edition: Q&A with Firebrand Community Chief, Rob Stevens

Rob Stevens is the Chief Community Officer of Firebrand Technologies. He’ll be kicking off the Community Conference with a welcome address and will follow suit visiting with clients throughout the entirety of the show. The Jack-of-all-trades, Rob’s main focus is customer relations and making sure that all of Firebrand’s client’s are feeling good, and progressing in a fashion formulated towards business success. Firebrand’s Community Concierge, Chris Hislop – in his (continued) quest to expose what fuels the charge of Firebrands regarding the Community Conference – asked Rob for a few thoughts regarding the upcoming event.

CC Burnie LogoChris Hislop: In your own words, what is the goal of the Community Conference?

Rob Stevens: Our goal is to bring our community (publisher, distributors and trading partners) together to show them our newest functionality, discuss industry issues, and share knowledge.  I want ­­­­­­our community to come with questions and leave with answers. Not necessarily answers we at Firebrand Technologies have given them, but (possibly) answers from other publishers or trading partners.  We’re all working toward the same goal.

CH: What excites you about hosting this event?

RS: I love meeting with people who, for the most part, I only know via phone or email correspondence. Others I’ve met and we’ve been working together for 12 years now. It’s great to have them all in one place meeting with all the other fascinating folks I work with year-round, together sharing tasty bits of insight and information. My favorite moments are when I can say, “Oh yeah, we can do that.”

CH: The adoption of Social Media in Publishing is becoming more and more prevalent when it comes to industry marketing/outreach. How important is this skill for the contemporary publishing world?

RS: It’s becoming more and more important everyday.  If you stop and think about how  society consumes news and information today, it’s really amazing how social media fits into it.  And it’s changing fast. Figuring out how to best market your product via social media isn’t easy.  Building a social community around your brand is a full-time job, and in today’s climate, a necessary component to any of those that wish to have a future in world moving more and more quickly to a digital landscape.

CH: Firebrand has been making some changes to its eloquence-On-Demand platform. Can you give us a little insight into what we have to look forward to? What will folks be privy to when this service is rolled out at the conference?

RS: Well, I can say that we’re taking the functionality and experience we’ve created and gained from our Content Services and put it to work for our eloquence customers.  We want to give our publishers more control over when they send their metadata and to whom.  I don’t want to give too much away, but for those customers who are familiar with the regular weekly feed to all trading partners, you’re in for a few changes.  Come see what we’ve got for you.

CH: The Publisher/Partner Roundtable is a popular session at the Conference. Can you describe the scene a bit? What do these sessions typically look like? How can folks get involved?

RS: Spoiler alert! The tables aren’t actually round.  Sorry…

This session is popular because it really brings the three sides of our community together:  Firebrand, publishers, and trading partners.  For our publishers who use eloquence and Content Services there are everyday questions about why titles are not displaying on a given site, or why the “buy” button is or isn’t showing on a specific title?  How do I make a correction to a title?  And from the trading partner side of things we get questions about publishers’ metadata.  Why are they missing page count? They need to include BISAC Subject codes.  The Pub date has passed but the BISAC Status still shows as NYP (Not Yet Published)… Why?

The questions vary quite a bit – and the session is always very informative for all involved. And again, it’s nice to be able to be face-to-face with people whom you work with year-round but may never see.  If you’re a publisher or trading partner and want to be on the panel let me know.  We also take questions from the audience.

CH: Who inspires you in the world of publishing? How did you get into the industry?

RS: Not to be a complete suck-up, but every day I have the pleasure of working with Fran Toolan, Catherine Toolan and Doug Lessing.  Fran is so passionate about the publishing industry, Catherine is so devoted to giving her all everyday (and most of her nights) to the customer, and Doug is so energized, that it makes for a great work environment.

I got into the industry, in a way, via social networking.  My best friend called me one day and said, “I want to hire you to come learn what I do so that I can get out of the office more.”  I started in QA and Support and gradually learned more.  I did implementations, training, report writing.  I just asked, “Ok, what else do you need me to do?” and that’s really what we’re all about here at Firebrand Technologies.  “Ok, what else do you need us to do? We’re all ears.”

Join us at the Community Conference! For more information click here!


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