Publishing Strategy Toolkit

PST Virtual

If you're charged with maximising the success of a publishing list or market segment and want to compete effectively, this introduction to competitive strategic thinking is for you. Designed for print and digital publishers, the course aims to give you the confidence to develop your products and lists so that they are positioned as well as they can be within the market.

The course is built around applying business-school models and theories to real-world examples, both successful and unsuccessful. These models will help you to structure your thinking and give you new ideas and approaches to how, what, and when, to publish. The three-session course contains a stimulating combination of presentations, practical exercises, discussion and delegate interaction, so that you understand these concepts and can see how they might apply to your role and sector.

By the end of the course, you'll understand how these new ways of thinking can be applied to your own strategic questions, and you’ll have the answers and tools to make your list a commercial success.

Who is it for?

  • Publishers
  • Commissioning editors
  • Publishing managers
  • Anyone responsible for publishing strategy within educational, academic, professional or trade publishing.

What will you achieve?

On completing this course you’ll be able to:

  • clearly define your overarching goals and those of the organisation in which you work
  • analyse the opportunities and competitive environment in your market
  • identify the important strengths of your organisation
  • generate strategic options and choose the most successful
  • communicate your plans concisely and effectively.


Session 1: An introduction to strategic thinking and SWOT analysis

  • Strategic context and objectives
  • The strategy process
  • Internal analysis and resource-based strategy
  • External analysis and market-based strategy

Session 2: Deciding where to play and generating strategic options

  • Customer segment analysis
  • Evaluating emergent markets
  • Ansoff’s matrix
  • Porter’s generic strategies
  • Customer value disciplines

Session 3: Evaluating options and deciding how to win

  • Marketing warfare
  • Rumelt’s Sources of Power
  • Differential advantage analysis
  • Prioritising and action-planning
  • The essentials of a good strategy plan

How the course is delivered

The course consists of six x 90-minute sessions, each a mixture of delivery and interaction using Zoom breakout rooms and other online tools. There will be 30-minute breaks between each session with the opportunity to do exercises and take a break. The course will run in the same week, split into three half-day sessions in the morning from 9am to 12.30pm.

You will need to activate a free Zoom account to join the course. This takes two minutes and does not require any payment. It is purely for administrative purposes.

Any information to be completed beforehand will be sent via email.

If you have any concerns about technical requirements or access please contact us on or telephone (+44) 020 8874 2718.

Delegate feedback

“A thoroughly enjoyable course. I liked that we presented our findings to the rest of the group and it was really useful to hear from them. Kay's presentation was excellent. She explained complex models clearly and her slides were helpful. I have new models that I can use right away to assess ideas and new products. These will help me to decide whether to go ahead with a project and how I will put together my pitch for colleagues. I've also learned how to evaluate segments and decide what areas and products I should focus on. It was useful to think about our distinctive capabilities and strengths from the customer's perspective (what are they getting). A valuable course which has given me new ways of thinking about our lists and the different markets.” Bloomsbury Publishing delegate

“The course was excellent. It gave me useful tools to apply to a host of upcoming strategic tasks.” Associate Publisher, SCM Press

“I found the course very helpful, and the teacher extremely knowledgeable. The breakout sessions and activities really helped to deliver the strategies explained. I’ve learned that I should step away from my own list and think about wider internal company strategies and external publishing trends.” Commissioning Editor, York Press

“I thoroughly enjoyed the course. The beneficial feedback from Kay is well-suited to a small group size. I have acquired models for understanding why things we have already been doing have worked (or haven't!), as well as new insights and ideas. These benefits will increase my confidence in explaining rationale to colleagues in future and lead to new successes.” delegate

“I have gained clarity on high-level strategic decisions and, in particular, the need to play to your strengths and not get distracted with smaller and riskier investments. I have also learned not to be obsessed with publishing new content for its own sake!” Senior Commissioning Editor, Hodder Education

“The course was excellent – very engaging, interesting and helpful. I have gained clarity about what needs to be focused on.” Managing Editor, Raintree

“Very good course delivered by a tutor who asks the right questions to [positively] challenge you to get the most out of the learning opportunities.” Elsevier delegate

"The course is really inspiring and has given me a great deal of confidence. Kay is a stand-out tutor.” Oxford University Press delegate

About the tutor

Kay Symons

Kay Symons has 30 years' experience with some of the foremost educational publishers in the UK. She worked at Heinemann for 20 years, as publishing director and MD of Heinemann Secondary and Vocational during a period of huge success from 1997 to 2004. She has an international executive MBA from Henley Management College, and is now a publishing consultant and trainer.


Next session 1: 21 October | Session 2: 23 October | Session3: 25 October (mornings only)


Monday, 21 October 2024


Date information for future sessions

October 2024

  • Dates: 21, 23 & 25 October 2024
  • Times: Each session will run from 9.00am to 12.30pm 

Course format

  • Virtual classroom
  • 9am to 12.30pm (BST)
  • Six x 1.5 hour sessions plus breaks, comprising three half-day sessions on three days within one week. 

A number of discounts are available

Enrol on this course

What you will need

To join the course, you will need access to a computer or laptop with a camera and microphone. You will need to activate a free Zoom account to join the course. This takes two minutes and does not require any payment. It is purely for administrative purposes.


Enrol on this course

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