Advisory Boards and User Groups
The setting up and facilitation of advisory boards and user groups is perhaps Gold Leaf’s best-known specialism.
Our advisory boards may be national or international. Some are temporary, set up for a specific purpose, after which the board is disbanded; most are more permanent and discuss the wider issues relevant to modern publishing and librarianship, as well as details specific to individual publishers. Some of our boards have flourished for almost twenty years, their membership refreshed regularly. Several of these are made up of academic librarians, convened to advise and provide insights to academic publishers. Others consist of publishers who provide advice to third-party organisations, such as digital companies and bibliographical records companies or consumers ready to offer feedback to trade or academic publishers and booksellers.
User groups normally consist of more junior librarians or technical specialists who comment on specific products as they are being developed.
Boards may meet in person or virtually. Most engage in between-meetings discussions. These are organised by circulating two or three virtual rounds of questions per year and requesting the board members to reply by a certain date, copying each other in.
Case Studies and Newsletters
Case studies and newsletters are sometimes commissioned as part of advisory board work, but more commonly as stand-alone projects.
Typically, clients require case studies to complement or illustrate the benefits of their products and services, particularly when major new initiatives are taking place.
Some clients commission complete newsletters, to be delivered digitally as ebulletins at regular intervals; others like pieces on specific topics to publish on social media. As well as offering a regular newsletter service, Gold Leaf also contributes occasional pieces on publishing industry matters for a wide variety of publications and individual publisher websites and blogs.
Focus Groups and Structured Telephone Interviews
Gold Leaf is experienced at forming focus groups and conducting focus group meetings – either in person or via video meetings – and/or structured telephone interviews, to carry out specific pieces of research or to test the market for new products or business models. We are equally happy for the client to select the participants or to select and recruit them ourselves.
Focus groups may be stand-alone or set up as a series to provide market intelligence for a specific product or business model or comprise part of a larger project. In the latter instance they may be one of several research vehicles employed to inform the project. Gold Leaf provides final summary reports of all findings, including conclusions and recommendations, and will offer a PowerPoint summary free of charge for internal use by the client if this is deemed useful. Gold Leaf also provides full transcripts of the proceedings of focus group meetings.
Structured telephone interviews are often conducted as part of a larger project; for example, to obtain in-depth information to complement an online survey.
One-off webinars on behalf of the client can also be arranged.
Research projects are also a Gold Leaf specialism. We like to work very closely with the client to ensure that we target as precisely as possible the information that is required. Research projects cover a wide range of topics – for example, they may: be customer perception surveys; be fact-gathering initiatives to establish international or national opinion on broad industry initiatives such as Open Access; concern issues of direct relevance to the client’s products and services.
As for focus groups, Gold Leaf is happy to recruit participants or for the client to do this – in practice, it is often a mixture of both. When conducting surveys, Gold Leaf has achieved good results by combining alerts to its own and the client’s contacts with appeals for responses on social media.
As mentioned above, research projects may involve the use of a variety of different research vehicles, including focus groups and semi-structured questionnaires. Desk-based research may also be included. If the resulting report is to be published in the public domain (for example, as a white paper, journal article or conference proceedings), Gold Leaf will carry out a literature search and preface the original research with a summary of previous work on the topic.
Research projects are notoriously difficult to cost. Gold Leaf’s approach is to be generous with its time, never to ask for additional funds unless the client alters the scope and brief and – perhaps more unusually – not to charge for hours quoted for but subsequently not used.
As well as providing a final summary report of all findings derived from the research, including conclusions and recommendations, Gold Leaf always offers free of charge a PowerPoint summary of the findings. The presentation may also be delivered by Gold Leaf, either in person or by video meeting, if required.
While Gold Leaf does not promote or advertise its clients’ goods and services directly – i.e., for both ethical and practical reasons it makes it clear that it is operating ‘neutrally’ – it is happy to help clients with a wide variety of business development projects. For example:
- Gold Leaf will undertake an audit of the client’s portfolio of business activities, compare them with industry trends and suggest those that are most financially effective / most likely to repay further investment in time or other resources.
- Gold Leaf will write briefs involving third parties for projects the client wishes to undertake. For example, if a new platform or website needs to be developed, Gold Leaf will investigate and recommend the third parties who should be approached and evaluate them; working closely with the client, Gold Leaf will then help the client to appraise the short-listed applicants and will provide a written report of the outcomes, with recommendations for next steps and a free PowerPoint summary if required.
- Gold Leaf will investigate viable business models for new products. For example, relative consumer appetite for outright purchase, rental, leasing etc.
- Gold Leaf will help members of the client’s organisation to research and prepare presentations for delivery at industry events, trade fairs etc.
Gold Leaf sometimes works with a single client to arrange a series of introductions, either at meetings set up for the purpose at the client’s offices or at major trade events, such as the London or Frankfurt Book Fairs.
Gold Leaf will help the client to identify promising prospects and then work out a meeting schedule. Gold Leaf will take detailed notes at each meeting and provide follow-up emails for the client if required, summarising what was discussed and next steps.
Conference and Seminar Organisation
Gold Leaf regularly organises conferences and seminars. These are sometimes arranged on behalf of trade associations, universities or public bodies; sometimes on behalf of individual publishers or technology companies. It will also arrange training seminars on a wide variety of topics, to be delivered either in-house or virtually.
Gold Leaf has worked extensively in this area. References can be supplied.
Copyediting and Proofreading
Gold Leaf can provide experienced editing, copyediting and proofreading services for publishers operating in the trade, business and academic / tertiary publishing sectors.