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Superhero Hand Shake AccountingWEB Your accounting powerhouse
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Your accounting powerhouse

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Joanne Birtwistle pulls back the curtain at AccountingWEB towers to reveal our new accounting powerhouse.

17th Aug 2023
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As the editor-in-chief of AccountingWEB, my regular columns are about sharing what’s new at AccountingWEB and how we are working to make our news, insight, events and services better for you, our audience and community. This month I am here to share some changes to the way we are structured as a business. 

Some of you will be aware that AccountingWEB is a publishing title of Sift, which also has a marketing agency called PracticeWeb.

While AccountingWEB focuses on publishing news and information for accountants, bookkeepers and FDs, PracticeWeb also specialises in the accountancy space - creating websites and delivering SEO services, as well as informative content for your existing and target clients. Until now, these two divisions have operated independently. 

In the accounting profession, specialising in serving specific sectors can allow you to showcase a deeper understanding of their unique challenges, enabling you to provide a higher level of service and support.

Well, across our newly combined accounting division, you are our specialism - and for more than 20 years you always have been… we’re just joining the dots to make us an accounting profession powerhouse.

For me, the change means that whilst I will continue to oversee the editorial team here at AccountingWEB, I will also be directing the PracticeWeb content team.

So, what does this mean for you? You are always at the centre of our strategy and plans. As a regular reader of AccountingWEB, your day-to-day experience won’t be affected. You’ll still see the same quality news and insight from our team of journalists and expert contributors. But we are also doubling down on providing more and improved events, targeting content for specific sub-sectors of our audience, and delivering the most value to you.

Providing more value

But on top of this, we believe that by bringing the AccountingWEB and PracticeWeb divisions together we can provide even more value to our audience and clients. With our established reputation, community, network of expert resources, and wide reach, we can help ambitious accounting professionals like you develop your careers, grow your firms, and better serve your clients.

Here’s just one example: Budget Day is AccountingWEB’s biggest traffic day of the year - we think it should be yours too. This is a key opportunity to communicate with your client base. Use it to share how any announced changes will impact your clients and to demonstrate your knowledge to future clients. PracticeWeb’s Budget report - delivered overnight, immediately after the budget and fully branded for your firm - does this for you.

Here’s another: AccountingWEB’s second editorial special report, publishing in September, hones in on Practice Innovation and how to make changes that will drive innovation by examining your people, clients, processes, strategy, and technology. 

It’s a topic that not only ties in with the continuous improvement ethos of our Accounting Excellence Awards programme but also with PracticeWeb, which can support you in progressing across all these areas.

Targeted and strategic help

Many accountants struggle with digital marketing and lack the time to deliver effective strategies for their firms - it’s a perennial topic here, in our webinars and was even discussed recently on AnyAnswers

PracticeWeb works with accountants and marketing managers to execute tactical marketing. Services include website creation with flexible payment plans, SEO optimisation, as well as a range of fully branded content products delivered as regularly as you need, direct to your client base. These activities can also be targeted to help with specific strategic requirements, such as talent acquisition or brand positioning to differentiate your firm.

I’m just at the start of my journey with PracticeWeb but I can already see so much opportunity to deliver more of what I know you need. Right now, we are developing the existing product offering  - with a fresh new look and revised content for your client base. 

Stay tuned for exciting developments and new offerings from us in the future and if you’d like to find out more about how we can help you build your brand, reach more clients and improve the way you communicate with them, please do direct message me.

Replies (7)

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By Hugo Fair
17th Aug 2023 17:55

Call me a cynic, Joanne, (although I warn you that you'll have to join a rather long queue first) ... but can you hand on heart state that neither of the following lies behind this 'merger':
- opportunity to shave costs by sharing content (and authorship)?
- opportunity to cross-sell (particularly Pweb services to Aweb members)?

I understand the needs of a commercial organisation (and of course it's your playpen so you get to make the rules), however you must surely have noticed a slow but growing antipathy amongst many (not all I grant you) members to the preponderance of overt advertorial/sponsored articles.
This is best evidenced by the increased number of articles published with 'comments switched off' - and these are not all due to the lazy trope of posts being personally insulting or intended to offend (many are simply 'not appreciated' by the sponsor and so the comments are cancelled).

Why am I raking over these old sores?

Well the increase in uni-directional commenting has been picking up pace recently ... which I hope is not a precursor to what we can expect post-merger?
You need to retain an 'independent spirit' if I'm to keep returning daily ... although I see another queue (maybe shorter) chanting 'out, Hugo, out', I'm fairly sure that I'm not in a minority on this.

I'm intrigued to see what innovations you introduce, but *please* don't lose any more of the heart of what made Aweb great.

Thanks (7)
Replying to Hugo Fair:
Joanne Birtwistle
By Joanne Birtwistle
18th Aug 2023 11:42

A big part of what makes AWEB great is this community and the relationship we have with our audience. I could have chosen not to share the changes we are planning internally and you would probably have been none the wiser but the aim of my column is to keep you, our audience and community informed - and to receive feedback. I’m pleased you are intrigued and that you do want to hear about our plans, Hugo.

The other thing that makes AWEB great is the quality and number of independent journalists we employ in-house as a small publisher - as well as the expert writers we commission. They research and write the stories you like to read every day - often stories you won’t see reported on in the same way anywhere else. We don’t expect you to be interested in every story - as editor Richard always says, we offer a buffet - pick the bits you like.

We work hard to find a balance between ensuring this publication remains commercially viable whilst maintaining our editorial integrity, quality and of course we want you to have a good user experience.

I’m hoping you’ve noticed that we recently removed the headline banner ad slot from the homepage entirely - the one that sat above the orange strip at the top of the site? Not a commercially motivated decision. To pick up on user experience more generally, we have been working with new software that makes the use of banners and ads more intelligent - there have been teething problems but you should have seen this settle down now.

You’ll notice comments were left on for this particular column - as they are for the vast majority of articles. We do publish some sponsored articles with comments off, but not all - some commercial supporters prefer to have that engagement.

To your other point: Opportunity to cross-sell? I certainly hope so - the services that PracticeWeb offers are wholly relevant and valuable to the AWEB audience. Why wouldn’t we want to make you aware of how PracticeWeb products and services can help you attract more clients and better engage with them?

When on Budget Day, we’ve delivered huge volumes of content that our audience clearly finds useful, given the level of engagement it receives, why would we not share that we can also supply a client-friendly Budget report you can email out to them the very next day?

Yes, I do see an opportunity to share a few of the articles we write on AWEB with PracticeWeb clients. Not to ‘shave costs’ but because if it’s great content that works for them, why not? To be clear though, the ‘end user’ audience is very different and looking at our homepage right now - there is one story there that could be shareable with a more general sole trader or business audience.

The point is we know accountants. Here at AWEB we inform and support you with knowledge, and information and offer a community space for advice. On PracticeWeb we support you with services that help you communicate your knowledge and advice to your clients. All we are doing here is joining the dots.

Thanks (1)
Replying to Joanne Birtwistle:
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By Hugo Fair
18th Aug 2023 12:29

Of course I "want to hear about our plans" ... I wouldn't hang around if I didn't feel that I enjoyed my interactions more often than not (which is a compliment)!

FWIW a bit of free market feedback (albeit a survey of one possibly unrepresentative viewer):
- until you mentioned it I had never seen your Home page; I originally stumbled into Any Answers and from there found (via the Trending section at the bottom of individual threads) the trove of Articles such as this ... but had never bothered to 'explore' any other menus.
- my (rather obvious) dislike of having adverts foisted upon me has been with me for life ... when the first colour supplements appeared in the early '60s I quickly developed the skill of turning past advert pages on auto-pilot, and when ITV arrived I simply stayed with BBC.
The relevance being that I hadn't noticed your changes to "banners and ads" ... mostly because I use adblocker software that is remarkably effective (and my mind 'de-selects' any that may have escaped before they reach my consciousness).

Anyway as I said originally, it's your playpen = your rules ... and so long as the heart remains (accounting and tax issues / legislative interpretation / practical problem solving), I'll continue to enjoy selecting from the buffet - and wish you well with your endeavours in a fast changing environment!

Thanks (3)
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By tom123
18th Aug 2023 11:11

Welcome Joanne,

Can I just wave a flag for those of us who are not in practice please?
Much as I enjoy reading about the trials and tribulations of my practice friends - there is a whole other half of accounting out there in industry.

We, of course, are decision makers in buying stuff too -

Thanks,

Thanks (1)
Replying to tom123:
Richard Hattersley
By Richard Hattersley
18th Aug 2023 11:49

Hi Tom. We haven't forgot about the accountants not working in practice. After all, we have a whole news email dedicated to them (cheap plug! Sign up here: https://www.accountingweb.co.uk/newsletter/thurs-business)

We have also been working with Neil Cutting on his regular 'Cutting through Boardroom Challenges' series. https://www.accountingweb.co.uk/content/cutting-through-boardroom-challe...

Neil has worked as a CFO at Hewlitt Packard, Mars and Jacobs, so it's been fascinating to read his conversations with finance influencers. I particularly enjoyed his transformation discussion with Coca-Cola's Europacific Partners' Mike Clark.

It would be good to have a chat soon, Tom, and discuss what other content AWEB could be doing for accountants in industry/public sector.

@Hugo No need to worry here, Hugo. AccountingWEB has an independent editorial team, while my colleagues at PracticeWeb have their editorial team. Do we talk? Yes, of course we do. The new division makes sure we speak a little more often. That just makes business sense. 

As a community-driven publication it’s important that we ensure our readers are able to comment on articles, columns etc. I’d say at least 98% of articles published have the comments on. There is the odd occasion when we turn the comments off. As noted previously, this is for DEI articles and there are occasional sponsored articles where this happens, as is the case with the majority of publications. However, sponsored content makes up only a fraction of the articles we publish every month. 

As someone that has been working on this publication for over eight years, I can tell you without a shadow of doubt that the team has the same passion for the site as it did on the first day I started.

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Replying to Richard Hattersley:
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By Hugo Fair
18th Aug 2023 12:04

Richard, I'm glad, indeed happy, to hear that you'll be retaining independent editorial teams at AccountingWEB and PracticeWeb ... for you as well as for the readers!

FWIW my point about sharing resources wasn't intended to suggest a need for any lack of collaboration between the teams ... more a concern that there is a growing trend within the wider journalism sector to cut costs (and unfortunately quality) through mashing together disparate teams (that end up with reduced headcount and a greater reliance on interns or even AI).

So, as I said, happy that this isn't the start of such a 'consolidation' here.
May your passion continue (along with finding a solution to contributing bots)!

Thanks (2)
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By tom123
18th Aug 2023 12:06

@Richard - thanks, I have messaged you my current contact details.

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