Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

My Digital Hero: Will Brookes, CEO of Raconteur

Will is CEO of Raconteur, the B2B publishing company within the Raconteur Group. After joining the business in 2011, he went on to run Raconteur’s special reports division for three years before being promoted to managing director in late 2016. Will was appointed CEO in early 2021.

Who is your digital hero?

I’m choosing two because I’m a rebel. Alice Bentinck and Matt Clifford, the founders of Entrepreneur First (EF).

What have they done to win hero status in your eyes?

They fixed a classic challenge and turned it into an awesome opportunity. 

The world is full of people who could be great business founders, but either they haven’t had that lightbulb “business idea” moment, or they have an idea but haven’t yet found the complementary skills to take it to the next level.

Through EF, potential digital or tech-focused entrepreneurs get placed into a cohort of like-minded potential business founders (once they have been through EFs interview process). Once there, they then have the chance to network, meet an exceptional co-founder and start developing a business together – think speed-dating for entrepreneurs.

When potential founders start pairing up and ideas start forming, they’re supported by experienced advisors and the wider EF network to turn their idea into a startup concept.

At the end of the programme, they’re introduced to EFs network of investors with the potential to pitch and raise their first round of investment.

How has their heroism helped drive digital?

To date, 3,000+ people have joined an EF cohort, resulting in 500+ tech companies being founded which collectively are worth more than $5bn.

All EF businesses are digitally enabled or tech-focused in some way, and they frequently solve societal, healthcare, educational or environmental issues, subsequently making the world a better place. That, for me, is pretty heroic.

What are the biggest challenges in digital we need another hero to solve?

I think the expectations and pressure put on people to conform to certain lifestyles or looks from the content they see posted on digital channels is a problem that continues to grow exponentially. 

This problem has always existed – magazines and TV have always airbrushed and edited, but the explosion of digital and social media, in particular, has exacerbated it. Nowadays we don’t even think twice about applying a filter to a photo we post to make it look better for an audience, but it can go much further when images of people and their apparent lifestyles are heavily edited or unrealistically staged without any signposting that that has occurred. If someone can solve or regulate that somehow, the world will be a much healthier place in my opinion.

What is your most heroic personal achievement so far in digital?

Probably transitioning Raconteur away from its previous total reliance on print revenue towards a much more sustainable, digitally focused future. The road to digital transformation within the publishing industry is littered with once noble print corpses, but I’m pleased to say that we have found a path to print revenue growth which provides healthy profits to enable increased investment in our digital platforms. 

Over the last couple of years, we’ve had great success growing our senior-decisionmaking audience on (our standalone content site). Alongside this, we’ve launched an impressive suite of digital publishing products for clients which now gives us a powerful multichannel ecosystem and enables us to compete with some of the biggest B2B publishing brands out there.