On June 2nd Princeton University Press launched PUP Speaks—an exciting new initiative to support and champion authors as expert speakers. Katie Stileman has been overseeing the set-up of this new enterprise.
What is PUP Speaks?
KS: We’re one of very few in-house speaking agencies run by a publisher and, as far as I am aware, the only in-house speaking agency based at a university press. We combine the best aspects of a publisher and a speakers bureau to support authors as they build their platforms and expand their speaking profiles.
What’s distinctive about this approach?
KS: The whole concept of expertise has been challenged in recent years, but we see it as the quality of having a profound—and often unique—understanding or knowledge that contributes to learning and conversation in a meaningful way. Scholarly experts possess a firsthand and current knowledge of research and ideas, and are influencing their field (and have the potential to influence the broader world of ideas). We are collaborating with speakers who can really influence ideas and move them forward.
We also work closely with our speakers to help them communicate in a way which will have a lasting, tangible impact. This means helping them understand who they are speaking to and how best to engage a diversity of audiences. Whether that’s students hoping to broaden their understanding of a topic; public policy makers and administrators trying to understand how their actions and decisions impact lives; employers keen to make their working practices more equitable; or business owners who need to better understand their customers. We help speakers to share their expertise in impactful ways.
What excites you about PUP Speaks?
KS: For me, it’s the opportunity to champion authors—especially those with research vital to navigating the current political and cultural moment—and ensure that their important messages are heard. I’m particularly glad that the PUP mission commits to supporting those who might find it harder to get their voices into influential spaces: those in the early part of the career or from a community or background which has historically been underrepresented or excluded in academia.
I’m also very excited about the opportunity we have to build long-term working relationships with authors. My background is in the publicity world, where the news cycle keeps things churning relentlessly. PUP Speaks will give us the chance to be more expansive in our collaborations with authors, and really invest in them from the point of signing for as long as their work continues to have significance.
What sort of speaker will you be working with?
KS: All sorts! Already we’ve signed up scientists, sociologists and experts in national security. Other authors are contributing essential knowledge to the creation of equitable societies and systems. We have experts on modern white supremacy movements, on race and food culture, and on empowering first-generation students. If there is one thing that connects all our speakers, it’s that they can with engage with conversations that have real implications for individuals and societies the world over.
Learn more about PUP Speaks and meet our current speakers.