Recently ECPA president Stan Jantz had a conversation with Don Nori, a second-generation publisher and the CEO of Nori Media Group, which includes Destiny Image, Harrison House and Sound Wisdom. Here are five questions Stan asked Don about what his company is doing in response to the COVID-19 crisis.
SJ: About six months ago, without knowing what was coming, you initiated some changes in the way you publish books. How did that help you prepare for this moment we are in?
DN: Recently, we decide to take our publishing processes nearly 100% digital using collaboration platforms and Google drive. I became proficient largely from learning Google Drive through my two children who are in middle school and high school.
I teach at a local University where I recently also enrolled in an online teaching certification course. Following that I taught an online marketing course during the first 3 months of 2020.
When the quarantine hit, we had a company sales conference for our staff using Zoom and Google Drive, followed by a conference for our authors/speakers with over 1,000 attendees online! Just last week, we held an 18-person group presentation meeting with our largest business partner. Everyone was in their own homes (with the exception of myself).
I feel like during the months leading up to quarantine, we unknowingly prepared for business on a digital basis. Coincidence or God? I vote God.
SJ: Shortly after the COVID-19 crisis began, you started the Emergency Publishing Initiative. Can you describe what that is?
DN: In short, we hastily contacted authors and asked for content. Contract-to-publication was challenged for quick-turnaround. This is the email directive sent to ALL staff on March 20:
Please execute Emergency Publishing directive to acquire new, strategic content.
Goal: Go from written & video formats – to market, within DAYS. What can go LIVE next week?
What do we HAVE? What can we GET? What can we RELEASE?
Even facilitating online conferences for authors through our platforms.
Only consider what we can execute in the timeframe of 1 week up to 3 weeks.
“Let’s leverage crisis into innovation and strategy!” – Larry Sparks, Publisher, Destiny Image
Go, Go, Goooooo!
SJ: You have been able to publish a dozen titles with special relevance to the coronavirus crisis in two weeks or less, and that includes print. How did you do it?
DN: We enlisted the help of everyone in the product chain to expedite. And, everyone enthusiastically jumped-in! However, it was our digital sales director that kept things on track, knowing that most sales would occur through online customers.
Contracts were signed digitally. Designers, editorial, and pagination worked through weekends. Sales and marketing quickly shifted focus of campaigns and ad spending. Books began to be released within about a week.
SJ: You are referring to people at Nori Media as “Media Engineers.” What does that mean for your company overall?
DN: It is our philosophy that we are not just publishers of “books” but of “messages.” We strive to convey each message in as many forms of media as possible: ebooks, trade paper, hardcover, large print, audiobooks, video, and other forms of media as identified. This makes us “media engineers.” This is something my father believed in so much that he printed it on our first business cards in 1983.
SJ: In what ways is the COVID-19 crisis an opportunity for Christian publishers?
DN: Christian publishers were born for moments like this! We provide hope, love, encouragement, and positivity. The messages we share will help bring people closer to Jesus. It also gives us the opportunity to shine as Christian examples to the world.
Looking inward, this crisis forces us to change. It forces us to reevaluate, reset, and innovate. It can be scary. It can be uncomfortable. Hopefully a stronger and better company emerges on the other side of this.