Q&A with ASBPE’s New President, Davide Savenije

Like many B2B journalists, Davide Savenije never considered a career in trade media until he stumbled into this profession. After graduating from Dartmouth College with an English degree in 2012, he landed an editorial internship at Industry Dive, a scrappy startup with a small team of six people running five fledgling publications. Driven by his natural curiosity and insights as an avid reader, Davide started to experiment with and shape Industry Dive’s editorial vision by asking: “Why can’t B2B media be as compelling as the other publications I like to read?”

With a relentless focus on creating value for his audience, Davide worked his way up through the growing company. By the time he became editor-in-chief in 2017, Industry Dive had swelled to about 15 publications and 40 people. Now, he oversees 37 publications, powered by a team of about 400 people, including 130 business journalists in the editorial department that he oversees.

Along the way, Davide got involved with ASBPE as a way to expand his network and his skills. He joined the national board in November 2021, was voted in as vice president in May 2023, and stepped into the role of president last month during ASBPE’s National Conference.

To explore Davide’s passion for B2B journalism and his vision for building up our community, ASBPE vice president, Brooke Bilyj, recently interviewed Davide about his goals and priorities as president. The following interview has been edited for length and clarity.

How did you end up in B2B publishing?

By accident. A big part of it was getting rejected by every job I applied for right out of college. I had to get my foot in the door somewhere, so I just started applying to internships, and I joined Industry Dive as an editorial intern in 2012. It was just six or seven people in a small room with barely-functioning air conditioning, but the vibe was right for me. It wasn’t fancy; it was just about the work.

I was always passionate about writing and storytelling, and I was also passionate about collaborating with others to produce bigger projects. Like many people, I never really thought about B2B journalism until I stumbled into a job in this profession — but immediately it fascinated me what was going on in the markets I covered. As I started to scratch the surface, I realized there were compelling stories to be told.

Once I learned a little bit about what Industry Dive wanted to be, I said, well, if you want to create value for your audience, you can’t just skim the surface. You have to offer them something meaningful and in-depth that helps them understand their industries better than they already do. I didn’t know nearly as much as the people I’m writing for, but I knew I was a good storyteller, and I could gain access to experts and executives. I didn’t have to be the smartest person in the industry, but I had to talk to the smartest people, ask them the right questions and then present the information in a way that only journalists and storytellers can. To me, that was the job of a B2B journalist.

What was your first exposure to ASBPE?

I became aware of it through the Azbee Awards. Industry Dive didn’t originally apply for journalism awards, partly because we thought: Why do we need to pay people to tell us we’re good? But I realized it’s a measuring stick. It’s a motivational tool. It’s a way to push the team to do more ambitious things, and it’s a great way to celebrate what we do. So, we applied for the Azbee Awards for the first time six or seven years ago, and it’s been a very rewarding experience.

I was also looking for community in B2B media, and ASBPE is a great way to do that. The educational programming and the community have really been powerful. I’ve hired plenty of people that we met through ASBPE, and we’ve developed peer-to-peer relationships and collaborations through it.

Why did you join the ASBPE board?

To me, it’s a way of giving back. Yes, I worked hard in my career, and yes, I had some good ideas, but I also got really lucky to walk into the right place at the right time and get the right people to see my potential and support me. How can I give back and create more of that opportunity for others? How can I expose more people to B2B journalism and the really cool things that are happening? B2B media has this reputation for being unsexy and boring, and I don’t think that’s deserved. There’s plenty of exciting things going on in B2B if you just know where to look, and ASBPE helped me see a lot more of that.

ASBPE is meaningful to me because it’s for the community and by the community. Except for our executive director, who does a fantastic job, none of the people involved in putting on ASBPE programming are getting paid. We’re all doing it because we care, and we want to give back to the community. I find that really rewarding. There’s just no substitute for that volunteer passion of helping others.

What are your top goals and priorities as ASBPE president?

I’m excited to build on the progress that ASBPE has been making. This community plays a vital role in keeping our profession moving forward and getting better. Media in general is moving and changing so quickly, so one of the biggest things ASBPE can do is help people adapt to change and position themselves for the future. A lot of B2B editorial teams don’t have the resources they’d love to have, and ASBPE can help bridge that gap by providing learning and development opportunities and programming to help people gain skills and learn from their peers.

ASBPE’s role is to connect people, build community, provide recognition for excellence, provide educational opportunities, provide thought leadership on hot topics and issues, and generally raise awareness of B2B journalism — especially with students and academic institutions.

I want to increase ASBPE’s visibility among publishers and B2B journalists to show the value of being a member and the rewards of volunteering with us. We have an incredible group of volunteers and board members that I love working with. I would encourage anyone who is interested in being more involved — even if it’s only an hour or two of your time each month — to just reach out to me or anyone else at ASBPE, and we can talk about how you can get involved.

What are some new programs or ideas you’re pursuing to add more value for ASBPE members?

We’ve been building a robust webinar program with more to be announced soon. We have our annual conference, and we plan to have local networking events later this year that will be great opportunities to meet with people in your area and grow your network. Of course, we’re continuing to evolve, modernize and improve the Azbee Awards to recognize excellent B2B journalism. We’re also trying to reach the student community and academic institutions. I want to raise awareness of B2B media as a career path and a sustainable place to work and grow as a journalist.

One of the things I want to do is provide an opportunity for people to ask questions about what’s going on in the industry, and for ASBPE’s board to be able to share insights on what we’ve heard from the experts. I’m looking forward to rolling out this Ask ASBPE column where we can provide that insight to the community. Everything we do is for the members and by the members, and we’re always open to feedback and suggestions, so don’t hesitate to reach out and let us know what you think.

What is your vision for ASBPE?

I’d like more people to know the impact that ASBPE is having in this space — not just by raising visibility of our impact, but by building up our impact, by being more valuable to people. That’s something we’re actively working toward. You’ll see it in the webinars we do. You’ll see it in our LinkedIn posts, our email newsletters, our conferences and local networking events. Hopefully we can look back in a couple of years and say we’ve put this organization in a place where it has a lot more impact in the community, and it has the potential to do even more.

Connect with Davide Savenije on LinkedIn, or use our contact form to submit questions for his new Ask ASBPE column.

Brooke Bilyj

Brooke Bilyj is a national award-winning journalist, published author and PR/marketing consultant. Since founding her Cleveland-based content marketing firm, Bantamedia, in 2013, she has worked with marketing agencies, trade publications and brands to provide content, PR, SEO and digital marketing for industries ranging from healthcare to horticulture. Her work has been published in more than 50 publications and nearly 60 client websites, earning 30 journalism awards.

Bilyj currently serves as vice president of the ASBPE National Board of Directors.

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