What do you do within the agency?
As Managing Director of Hearst Content Agency, I’m responsible for the commercial and strategic direction of the agency. Strategically, this ranges from developing our agency proposition to ensuring the work we do for our clients is as effective and as ‘objectives’-driven as possible.
Commercially, I’m focused on new business development: taking our ‘Analyse-Create-Amplify’ proposition to market, as well as ensuring our responses to content briefs and pitch performances are compelling and engaging. Beyond this, I’m passionate about continually driving an inquisitive, inclusive and creative agency culture.
Tell us how you got to where you are now...
That’s a great question! My 25 years’ experience across media owner and agency has helped! I’ve worn sales and strategy hats in several world-class businesses, including BBH, Starcom, Mail Newspapers and Hearst… and I even found some time to be a founding and launch partner of a publishing plc!
Having this breadth of experience across the marcomms industry has enabled me to build a broad and deep toolkit – from media, content and audience strategy, to sales and commercial planning. This has allowed me to enjoy varied roles across my career, including Strategy, Partnership and Trading Director positions, and now as MD of Hearst Content Agency.
As for lessons learned? Always embrace change, always listen, and always apply the hard work and passion that has got me to where I am now.
What does a typical day look like?
It may be a cliché, but no one day is typical. The only constant is the stream of daily meetings, which has increased in Covid times – communication is crucial. Whether I’m working on client development with my senior account leads, or with my Editorial and Strategy Director on new business or HCA proposition work, no two days are the same.
And then there are the broader, company-wide check-ins that, as a member of Hearst SLT, are an important part of my job. Right now, I’m in the middle of 2021 agency planning, working through the strategic, commercial and cultural elements that will set us up for a successful year to come!
What is the most challenging part of your role?
Balancing the needs of the client and of the agency can be challenging. There’s always work to be done to push the business forward, so my role is to ensure I stay focused on the areas that will make a difference, rather than on the ones that are nice to have!
What is the most rewarding part?
That’s easy – it’s getting to see the amazing content and creative work that comes out of the agency. Every week, we’re producing great digital and social content that really connects – I love to see the engagement numbers fly on a piece that really lands. And just today, the Asda Magazine Christmas issue came through my letterbox - it looks beautiful, reads brilliantly, and will drive significant revenues across the Christmas period for our client.
The other great part of my job is to see the development of my brilliant agency colleagues. It was only recently that two of them were celebrated in the PPA 30 Under 30 list, of which we were very proud.
And I know you didn’t ask for this to be a three-parter, but, the other great part of the job is when we win new business. So much work goes into our pitches that it’s always a huge buzz when we’re successful!
What’s next for you and your team? I imagine there are some exciting plans in the pipeline…
We’re very ambitious about our plans for the Hearst Content Agency. How we grow business, how our offering develops and how we maximise the Hearst family for our current and new clients.
Not only do we expect to develop our creative and content output as we continue to embrace new platforms and formats, but we’re also excited to go much further in our application of data and content analytics. As a content agency, we’re lucky to be able to tap into our sister performance marketing agency, iCrossing, to help us on this crusade. Our objective is to fuse our worlds of art and science in order to continue creating truly optimised content.
What advice would you give someone trying to get into content creation?
The content industry is a big industry consisting of many technical areas, ranging from content strategists to content creators and countless roles in between! So, my advice is to be clear about the area you want to get into and, as importantly, to have the skills (transferrable or on-the-job) or the experience to shine.
If you’re just starting out and looking to get some experience, then passion, interest and a willingness to self-start and find things out for yourself will count for a lot. There’s so much online resource to get you informed, and I’ve also found industry people are happy to share their advice, so don’t be backward in coming forward!
Finally, when you’re not at work, what would we find you doing?
Spurs, Tottenham Hotspur… and did I mention Tottenham?! Aside from my obvious love for the mighty Spurs, I’ve also rediscovered my love of music and am buying a few too many vinyl albums from my past! Oh, and my two kids – Alfie, who’s four, and Evie, who’s nine – keep me on my toes!