Major Ebury restructure as Bennie and Riley leave

Major Ebury restructure as Bennie and Riley leave

Ebury is overhauling its publicity and marketing strategy and will hire a new creative and communications director as it reveals plans to create publishing hubs and announces the departures of Sarah Bennie and Diana Riley.

Joel Rickett, who took over as Ebury m.d. in January 2019, said the restructure, to bring publicity and marketing closer to editorial, is “about investment and growth”.

The four hubs - Smart, Entertainment, Self and Lifestyle/BBC - will see the publicity and marketing teams, together with editorial in “tighter, more audience-focused teams”. Each hub team will span several imprints and bring together publicists and marketers, working closely with editors to own areas of the market.

A new creative and communications director will be hired to oversee the new publicity and marketing strategy. Three more publicists and marketers will also be recruited.

The new structure is announced alongside the departures of Bennie, director of publicity and media relations, and marketing director Riley, who are both leaving at the end of June to set up their own PR and marketing firms, after 18 years with Ebury. 

Rickett said with more than 250 new titles a year, Ebury’s “sheer scale is in some ways its biggest challenge”. He added: “The best publishing comes from smaller teams pulling together around shared tastes and categories of books, authors and audiences. So the idea behind the hubs is to effectively form four distinct, powerful and autonomous publishing centres, enabling each team to deepen its expertise, profile and contacts. The hubs foster creative collaboration between editors, publicists and marketers - who will sit together in our redesigned office space - encouraging them to share ideas and get closer to readers. This new setup also recognises that there is more convergence than ever in terms of publicity and marketing – it’s all about creating conversations around books and driving demand.”

As part of the new strategy, Joanna Bennett has been promoted to head of campaigns for the Smart hub, while Tessa Henderson has been promoted to head of campaigns for the Entertainment hub.

In the Lifestyle/BBC hub, Stephanie Naulls is promoted to head of campaigns, working closely alongside Ebury head of publicity and communications Claire Scott.  For the Self hub a new Head of Campaigns will be recruited.

These hubs will backed by Ebury’s new marketing, insight and digital centre – which will share new digital resources and tools, focusing on search, audience insight and digital advertising, as well as breakout paperback campaigns. Caroline Butler, previously head of marketing, who becomes Ebury’s head of marketing, insight and digital strategy, will lead the centre. For sharing of publicity resources and best practice. Scott also takes on an enhanced cross-Ebury role.

New Ebury deputy publisher Drummond Moir will lead the Smart hub, which spans serious non-fiction and smart thinking on W H Allen, voice-led narrative on Ebury Press, and business on Virgin Books.

The Entertainment hub, under Sara Cywinski and Lorna Russell, this year boasts new books from Harry Redknapp, Peter Crouch, Richard Osman and John Bishop. The Ebury fiction list will sit alongside the Entertainment hub – led by Gillian Green, its authors include Andy Weir, John Marrs and Katherine Arden.

On the Self hub, spanning the established imprints Vermilion and Rider, the list includes Marie Kondo, Brene Brown, Tim Ferriss and The Choice by Edith Eger.

The Lifestyle/BBC hub, under Lizzy Gray and Albert DePetrillo, boasts Yotam Ottolenghi, Mary Berry, Rick Stein and food brands, as well as a wide range of design-led publishing and the bulk of the BBC Books list.

Trend-led imprint Pop Press, with its insta-friendly humour and gift list, also sits under this hub. Meanwhile Ebury Enterprises, the partnership publishing arm headed up by Carey Smith, will range across the Hubs depending on the best fit for each title.

Bennie will continue to work on lead campaigns and authors for Ebury in a freelance capacity, and discussions are ongoing with Riley over freelance projects. They may be contacted at Sarah@sarahbennie.com and Diana@dianarileymarketing.com.

Rickett paid tribute to Bennie and Riley, who have been an integral part of the Ebury leadership team.

“Both Sarah and Di have played an important part in Ebury's evolution and success – since they joined, Ebury has more doubled in size and been crowned the UK's #1 non-fiction publisher,” said Rickett. “Many of our defining moments have been shaped by Sarah and Di, and they have personally led countless bestseller campaigns. They are passionate champions for our books, and have catalysed the careers of many publicists and marketers. So I am delighted that we are going to continue to benefit from their talents in a freelance capacity.”

Bennie and Riley were responsible for shaping Ebury's strategy for growing authors and brands, and helping launch new imprints, W H Allen and Ebury fiction. They helped set up the nationwide Books Are My Bag initiative, and planned the global launch for the Together cookbook by the Hubb Community Kitchen, backed by HRH Duchess of Sussex.

Bennie said she is “excited” about her new job and will be specialising in memoirs, lifestyle, food, healthy living and personal development.

“With new leadership at Ebury this seems the perfect time to leave with their blessing and begin this new venture, while continuing to work as a consultant and freelancer for Ebury,” said Bennie. “Di and I are great friends and colleagues; we have been proud to be part of the team that drove Ebury’s growth, and we expect to see its continued success in the years to come.”

Riley added: “I have had the most fantastic time at Ebury and been lucky enough to work with many talented colleagues and a huge number of inspiring authors, from whom I have learnt so much. However, there are projects and ideas I have had on the backburner, so with change of leadership I’m looking forward to setting up a freelance marketing business and collaborating with Sarah to craft a unique offering for authors and brands.”