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Managing Marketing – Journalists, confidentiality, PR and pitches

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Managing Marketing is a podcast hosted by TrinityP3 founder and global CEO, Darren Woolley. Each podcast is a conversation with a thought-leader, professional or practitioner of marketing and communications on the issues, insights and opportunities in the marketing management category. Ideal for marketers, advertisers, media and commercial communications professionals.

Nic Christensen, Deputy Editor of marketing news site, Mumbrella, shares his thoughts on how well or perhaps how poorly agencies and marketers engage with journalists. He and Darren discuss the role of journalists covering a profession like marketing and also the concept of commercial confidentiality when it comes to the trade media. 

You can listen to the podcast here:

Or, follow Managing Marketing on Soundcloud or iTunes.

Podcast transcription

Darren:

So I’d like to welcome a friend and a colleague, Nic Christensen who’s the Deputy Editor of the Trade News site, mUmBRELLA, welcome Nic.

Nic:

Good to be with you Darren.

Darren:

The reason for wanting to catch up with you, is that in any industry there’s a number of different groups, obviously we’re marketers, procurement, agencies, but then the media, journalists and the trade media of which you’re a significant player, all have to actually find ways of working together. And so I thought it would be great to have a bit of a chat about the way people do it well and the way they don’t do it well.

Nic:

I think people are generally interested in this area ’cause it’s one that confounds a lot of people be they marketers, agencies or whoever.

Darren:

One of the things I’ve noticed Nic, compared to other markets like say the U.K. and the U.S., is that Australian marketers generally don’t seem to appear to be comfortable being in the trade, you know, in the media. Would you think that’s a reasonable observation? Because you’ve just got back from New York haven’t you?

Nic:

Yeah I have and look, what can I say about the Australian market? I’d say there are a number of people who love the spotlight and who are very good and cultivating.

Darren:

Oh thank you.

What do you stand for? What does your brand represent?

Nic:

We can say that. There are people like yourself who do like the spotlight and who are definitely out there and who have opinions.

I think it’s about this. I think it’s about whether or not people are willing to stake something in the ground and say, “This is what I stand for or this is what my brand represents”, more about themselves, their agency, their business.

And then there are a whole lot of people who know that the spotlight is important, they know that they have to be out in the market, they have to be projecting themselves.

Certainly when we get to things like not an annual book, but we do one every two years, we do a book reviewing and all the agencies and a lot of the bosses at the time they complain to me going, “Oh yes we’ve got a great product, we just don’t talk about it enough, we’re just not very good at selling our brand”. And I’m always like, “Well hang on, isn’t that what you do every day? You sell other people’s brands and what does it mean for marketers when you can’t sell your own brand? Why would the agency appoint you?”

And I think there’s a direct relationship between people who are doing well commercially in business etcetera and the people who are actually out there pushing their message.

Now it’s not to say there aren’t people working quietly, it’s not that they don’t matter but if you’re working in the professional communications industry and engaging the media in good times and in bad, – because invariably staff will leave, you’ll lose an account – there will be times when you will need us in some way, shape or form and I think it’s good to actually have a constructive relationship with the trade press.

Darren:

So what you’re really focusing on from my perspective is the agencies and the agency’s ability, because agencies really do need to differentiate themselves and they really struggle with that don’t they? They really struggle with the ability to communicate their brand and their brand benefit.

Nic:

They do but marketers also struggle with this, we should cover them as well. But if we’re just talking about the agency construct, there is definitely that case.

It’s a very competitive landscape, probably too competitive. There are probably too many agencies out there and everyone’s chasing new business. How do you differentiate yourself? How do you get on the shortlist?

You know, I’m aware that I often joke that media, we’re not a priority most days of the week until something bad happens or something good happens and then everyone wants the coverage, or doesn’t want the coverage depending on the case. But that relationship needs to be constructed over time and you actually need to have a plan around that; now that can be engaging a PR professional to help you with you.

Darren:

We’ll get onto PR professionals later.

Nic:

We’ll talk about that. But also just engaging the press in such a way that the first time we’ve spoken to you isn’t when you announce a new strategy or a new hype. You want to have constructive relationships, we want to talk and that can be on or off the record.

We are keen to always have that relationship with the industry because the more we talk to people, the more we know, the better we are informed to do our job. So I know that one of the criticisms of the trade press in particular is that we’re not informed enough.

At the same time, people are reluctant to engage us so I’m like, “Well we can only report on what we know and if people won’t talk to us or people are scared to talk to us, then it means that the broader trade press is less informed and the industry is less informed.”

Darren:

That’s a good point because a lot of agencies and a lot of agency CEOs say to me, “Oh it’s so hard to get into the trade press”, and “what should we talk about?” Because they default to talking about campaigns they’ve done…

Nic:

And themselves.

Darren:

And themselves but the point you made before is, it’s about having an opinion on a whole lot of things that are actually happening in the industry as well isn’t it?

Nic:

It’s not opinion, I think it’s about standing for something.

Darren:

Right.

Nic:

And people, to come back to your original point, are reluctant to do that because when you stand for something, then suddenly you’re contentious and people might not agree with you and you think, “Goodness, what have I said?” and there’s controversy.

Darren:

Ah, the idea of having 100% of people love you but in actual fact you’ll end up with 100% of people that don’t care about you at all.

Nic:

That’s exactly the point.

Darren:

Right, okay.

Nic:

And in the end you can’t be loved by everybody and you have to stand for something because if you stand for everything, then you stand for nothing.

Darren:

Yeah.

Nic:

And I think sometimes, there are agencies that don’t particularly stand for a lot because they are trying to get into everybody, and in a market where it’s so fiercely contested, it’s getting really difficult to be in that spot because invariably, people don’t know what you stand for at all and I know you’re in this market, that’s probably a really dangerous place to be.

Darren:

It’s a good example you give there because there are only a handful of agency CEOs, for instance, that really do stand out and I think a good measure of that in any market is to be able to name a handful of CEOs so, for the Australian market, I would have to say people like Matt Baxter are definitely part of that, he has a profile.

On the marketing side, are there likewise, marketers that stand out? I mean whether you want to name them or not.

Nic:

There are always a few and I know that in recent days, someone like Damian Eales who has been very high profile through a number of roles and gone up the chain from David Jones to Westpac to Newscorp, and now he’s been made Managing Director, you know there’s that side of that.

Other people like Mark Buckman at Telstra was always very good at cultivating the press and for standing for something and clearly annunciating the strategy and then going through and executing that.

But I understand the reluctance, particularly with marketers, I think there’s probably a perception, particularly in that community that if you stick your head up the parapet, it’s likely to get shot off and that is always a risk that if you stand for something, that people will criticise you and you could get fired for that.

People joke about the mUmBRELLA common thread going, I don’t know, we don’t as reporters, know what it is to get criticised. I do, I get criticised on a daily basis, I get criticised in my own appointment story. The industry is not always nice and I do recognise that.

But what I’d say about that is invariably you need to engage because there are going to be times when you can’t, or probably the easiest way to describe it is like a vacuum gets filled, whether or not you choose to enter it.

Darren:

Yeah, that’s a good point.

Nic:

So therefore, you shouldn’t seek to define that vacuum itself, lest your competitors or lest the market choose to define it for you.

The importance of building your personal brand

Darren:

So for a marketer, it’s about actually managing their own personal brand and the ones that you mentioned, actually have very strong brands.

Nic:

They do, and I think as a marketing professional, you’re there spending your entire waking life building your company’s brand and if you don’t, and I presume you work for that company, those values are aligned and you’re passionate about what you do and you’re working very hard, and your team’s working very hard.

I’d actually argue that for the chief marketers. They should be out there promoting what their team is doing and showing that in a certain light, not because they want to grandiose themselves. There are lots of marketers that are very humble about these things and it’s not about them personally.

I think it should be about them communicating to the industry so that they can learn from others and others can learn from them about what’s actually being done in the industry. We should be celebrating good work.

Darren:

Yeah I think…

Nic:

That requires it to be drawn out. Now I understand in parts of the strategy you’re not going to talk about and you’re not necessarily going to show how the entire cake is made, I totally get that. But at the same time, there are ways of showing what’s been done and drawing out the next level and I think that’s constructive for all.

Darren:

So it is important for marketers and agencies to be able to build their brand presence, their brand through engaging with journalists like yourself and across any marketplace. But what is the best way because you see so many disasters. So how should people approach a journalist in their category?

Nic:

Look, I think there’s a couple of things I’d suggest. The first is to just get across the trade press and make sure you’re reading it. There are people who read us and in Australia, mUmBRELLA is certainly the largest of the media and marketing websites, and I think we’re probably read by most people catering across agencies and marketers etcetera.

But what I’d argue is, for people looking for coverage, they should read all of the titles and figure out who’s interested in the areas they’re interested in? Who writes about things that are actually relevant to their area and pick up the phone and introduce themselves.

It’s really not hard you know. Choose your time and I would say don’t call at lunch time when we’re really busy but, pick up the phone, shoot an email, go for a coffee.

Darren:

My God Nic, are you suggesting that journalists are human beings?

Nic:

Despite the perception, it’s entirely possible that most of us are. You know the guys from AdNews, I don’t know. No, no, look, to be fair, Rosie and Co are rivals, they’re our first rivals but I’m actually good friends with Rosie, the editor. I think she got, there’s a few there and I get it right.

People are concerned about being misquoted or they say one thing, but you’ve got to recognise that I spend most of my time off the record and for those who don’t really familiarise themselves with how journalists work, there’s a time we’re on the record and doing an interview with you, and I will quote you and we’ve agreed on that.

But most of the time I’m not looking for the headline and to catch someone off-guard, I’m looking to actually engage in a constructive conversation and to learn more about the industry and as I said, the more I know, the better my commentary is, the better I can play a role in the industry whether that’s writing about – today it was media palooza and all the global pictures that are happening around the world and what that means in this market of twelve billion dollars.

Darren:

Well, it’s giving context isn’t it of a global issue to a local market?

Nic:

And our readers are better off when we can provide constructive criticism or constructive feedback about what’s going on in the industry. That’s what we try and do every day.

Yes, we’re looking for news stories, yes there are times when we’re looking for hits and I just came from the office and we were writing about a silly, an amusing press release that was for our diary mumbo section that was about to go. He’d been appointed and it was for a financial company and his name was James Bond and you know, all of those sorts of things.

So sometimes, like any other media outlet – and I’ve worked for The Australian and the Daily Telegraph which are national publications here, and I work for mUmBRELLA now – there are differences in approach and editorial style and all of that, but at the same time, if you look across the media and you say, “Okay look, we’re X brand, let’s say we’re X agency and we’re trying to get this.”

Day to day, you’re not going to be able to announce a new business win every day. What you can do is take three steps back and go, okay, what do we stand for? We have our missions, you know agencies spend a lot of time building their culture, all of that stuff.

Darren:

That’s an assumption that they know that in the first place okay? So the first thing is, they have to have something to talk about don’t they?

Nic:

You would hope they do, right.

Darren:

Yeah, but the first assumption you just made is that they have something to talk about, because my experience is the vast majority of agencies do not have something to talk about because of the point you made before, which is as soon as they stand for something, someone could stand against them.

Nic:

Yes.

Darren:

Okay. So that is the first point. If you’re going to, because a lot of people see the journalists as the bull and if you’re going to engage the bull, without getting the horns you need to give them something that they want to talk about don’t you? Because otherwise you’ll find it?

Nic:

I really don’t think…

Darren:

Or ignore it.

Nic:

Well, ignore it is often the case. I get somewhere between five hundred and a thousand emails a week, at least 20% of them would be pitches that are just poorly constructed, poorly defined and not at all relevant, or they’re out of date or people really do struggle with this and I get it because they’ve never worked in my space.

What I’d come back to is a couple of things, if you’re looking to define, sometimes the best thing to do is not to talk about yourself right, because you find yourself the most interesting in the world, the rest of the world, not so much.

But if you work in this industry, I imagine you read the newspapers so imagine your clients have issues. Imagine there are a number of things you could take an opinion on that aren’t necessarily going to be wildly controversial, but could be relevant to a broader market right?

If you’re looking for coverage or profile and you want to appear in say our opinion section, I know well, one of our first rules is you have to take an opinion that’s meaningful and that is relevant to a broader readership right, because our newsletter goes out to close to 40,000 people every day. We want it to be relevant to anyone who…

Darren:

And interesting and engaging.

Nic:

Interesting and relevant to people outside of social media majors or that varying particular niche that you’re in. What we want is that the chief marketer and the 22 year-old PR professional who can both draw some insight out of that piece.

The second rule I’d say is don’t sell and by that I mean, don’t sell, don’t sell, don’t sell. People pitch us all the time and it’s always about how the industry has this problem and my product is the solution.

Darren:

Yeah.

Nic:

And that’s fascinating.

Darren:

And the problem is actually created by them to actually solve it to be aligned at the solution that they’ve come up with.

Nic:

We say no to it every day and it is a deep frustration because people think that’s what they should be presenting in opinion. And look, maybe other people want to run that on their websites.

Our view is that it’s not constructive, people absolutely hate it and we have very clear rules about it thank you, but no!

What we do look for is, let’s say there’s been a sports kerfuffle or something like that, and if you’re in the communication space and you can take a news headline and make it relevant and you can turn it around quickly, this is the tricky thing, people will go, “Oh that’s a great story”, and then they’ll take two weeks to write it.

It’s got to be done within 24 hours to be current with the news cycle. But there’s lots of opportunities for people be they marketers, agencies, etcetera to engage with that and go, “Actually, that is interesting, I can draw an insight out of that and I’ll write about it and I’ll take a point of view”, but not necessarily about them or their business, but there’s an interesting perspective on that and it might engage debate.

Look, the best pieces of opinion are where someone comes up with one opinion and someone else writes an opposing opinion and the two ideas meet, that’s the contest of ideas and we’re in an ideas industry.

Darren:

Absolutely.

Nic:

I don’t think we should be afraid of that.

Darren:

Yep, but I think going back to this concept of it means taking a stand or having an opinion, and if you’re wanting to be everything to everyone it’s very hard to have the opinion everyone buys, and at the same time being newsworthy or being engaging isn’t it?

I mean if someone came to you and told you exactly how the industry was and there was general consensus about that, where’s the news? ‘Cause I’ve got a question for you.

What is the purpose of a journalist?

You’re touching on the what is the purpose of having journalists writing about marketing, advertising and media? Because I know many people that think that you should be the cheerleaders of the industry and just basically be publishing the press releases and the puff pieces. So what is your purpose?

Nic:

Okay, I would know that there are some in the industry who do that and that’s not to criticise, that’s their approach and they’re welcome to it.

Certainly with mUmBRELLA, it’s not our approach. I would argue that yes, we like to celebrate the industry when the industry does well and there are times when the industry wants slash requires us to hold them to account because if we don’t do it, no one else will, right?

The unique position as the fourth estate that we find ourselves in is that we are the ones that can hold people to account and readers who are interested can go and look at some of the stuff mUmBRELLA’s done this year.

I think we’ve held the industry to account and done so in a beneficial way. That doesn’t make us friends. Often and sometimes it makes us enemies and I’m okay with that, because sometimes the industry needs that.

Is that scary for people who are going, “Should I be engaging with the press?” “How can I do it?” Those guys have just run my press release, holus-bolus. I spent some time working in Singapore last year for our Asian site and I’d have people ring because they’d send in the release and in Asia, people, a lot of the trade sites would publish the release as holus-bolus.

I do what I do every day which is to add value, provide insight, rework it, you’re burying the thing you don’t want anyone to notice, so I’ll move that up because that’s actually the newsworthy thing and you get people calling you up and going, “Can you change it back to how we wrote it?” I’m like, “No I can’t because I’m a journalist and I’ve worked in the profession for six or seven years.

I respect my profession and I’ll cover the news as I see fit”, that’s not to say I won’t engage with people but I’m not there to cheerlead. I’m there to hold people to account and to tell the story as it is for the interest of the whole community alright.

We represent, you know, I’m very passionate about in Australia the 12 billion dollar industry. I think this industry does a lot of good and is important, right. It’s a key part of the economy but if we’re not asking the questions that no one wants to talk about or we’re not driving a debate around say transparency, then it’s really hard for anyone else to lead except for us. Then that debate falls away and that’s dangerous.

Darren:

Absolutely. But, in that context though, I mean, it means that you will, as you say, promote the positive, but you’ll call people to account in the negative, yeah?

Nic:

I think that’s exactly the case. Two years ago I wrote a piece about what your media agency is not telling you. It was in first person hypothetical without drawing anyone to account as such, but was driving a whole industry wide discussion and you saw the fact that everyone picked up on it and went, “Oh great, we can’t talk about this but look someone wrote the whole thing and took people through it”.

And for clients it’s a really powerful piece for them to kind of go, “Oh, here are the questions that I need to be asking of my agency” and then year later we wrote the reverse of what your marketer is not telling you and again, it was helpful for agencies going, “If the marketers are like this and the procure department is doing this and the whole thing is shambolic, should we be participating in the pitch?”

Those discussions are really important, but at the same time, it requires us to be controversial and that means at times, we’re not going to be everyone’s favourite friend.

Darren:

That’s right and so your role is not to be the cheer squad.

Nic:

I think it’s to be the cheer squad when there’s things to cheer and that it’s also to be the task master when there are tasks that need to be done.

What is the role of commercially-in-confidence information?

Darren:

Now one of the issues obviously very close to my heart is the whole idea of confidentiality, okay?

Nic:

Yep.

Darren:

And the reason being,

Nic:

The things you can’t tell me.

Darren:

And…

Nic:

That annoys me very much.

Darren:

Well, I sign literally hundreds of confidentiality agreements every year because we are dealing with clients that are undertaking commercially sensitive information. Invariably, at some point, the story will break and …

Nic:

Hopefully in mUmBRELLA.

Darren:

Yeah, for you hopefully – mUmBRELLA. For our clients, we hope it doesn’t break at all. But then there’s invariably this witch-hunt about who actually broke it.

Now, I wouldn’t mind from your perspective obviously, confidentiality agreements and non-disclosure agreements work against you doing this, but you know, a lawyer said to me that you literally, to enforce those, will pay anywhere from fifty to a hundred and fifty thousand dollars to take that to court.

What do you see from your perspective, is the role of commercially in confidence information?

Nic:

Look, it’s definitely a challenge right, and I do understand, particularly a marketer’s side. They’re working through a process and they don’t want that out there. At the same time, there’s huge interest, particularly with the larger pitches.

A big part of my job is to be watching what the market’s doing and reporting on the big pitches because they do have implications for the client, and for the other clients around them.

If something like a major supermarket chain, a couple of hundred million dollar account is pitching, that has implications for the wider market and for any client who’s an agency on that shortlist.

So there’s huge interest from the industry and yes, invariably with anything over about two million dollars, someone somewhere will know someone who will mention it over a bar or whatever. It gets back to us or one of our rivals and it’s just the nature of the environment, it’s a gossip industry.

I mean, look at the people playing in it, no one gets into advertising because they love spreadsheets. They get into advertising because they’re talkative, engaging people and they like human beings and they talk and so stuff leaks all the time.

I joke that a lot of my job is getting people to tell me things that they shouldn’t. That is invariably the part of my job because things that people, you know, it’s that old maxim about anything someone doesn’t want you to know is news, right?

And so, invariably, pitches in particular, are newsworthy because people don’t want them to know. Now, I always tell marketers, look, frankly press release the damn pitch yourself, early on.

Darren:

Ah, so okay. So that piece of advice. Press release the pitch early on.

Nic:

Well, yeah, exclusively to me please.

Darren:

Okay well that’s up to, it takes the sting out of it because we have .. this is a conversation we have a lot with marketers and especially with corporate affairs and they believe that saying nothing will actually make the story go away. That actually by sending out a press release creates the story or making comment if the story breaks, will actually feed the story. Can you explain why that’s not true?

Nic:

I think you have to bear in mind that you and I can keep a secret. I can tell you something and if I haven’t told anyone, if it gets out, you must’ve told someone. Pitches aren’t like that.

Pitches involve five, ten, twenty people. They might put up a sign in the agency going, “Welcome X”. Suddenly everyone who has walked through that pitch door knows that a pitch of twenty, thirty million dollars broke a couple of months ago because the agency put the sign up and someone else came through and called us right.

It’s real easy for that stuff to happen. Fifty to a hundred people, which is invariably who know about a pitch, cannot hold a secret. They just cannot do it. Now, in that environment, does it feed the pitch?

There are ways, and how there was a very high profile pitch for a major retailer last year that every stage of the process got out there, but there were hundreds of million dollars at stake and I’d argue that there was no way that was not going to happen.

Darren:

So the bigger the prize, the bigger the game…

Nic:

Invariably.

Darren:

The more likely someone will talk about it.

Nic:

No one comes rushing to us with a half a million-dollar pitch. Anytime it’s over a couple of million dollars, then it’s likely to leak. Once you’re into the tens of millions of dollars, invariably it leaks and you have very little control over that.

Darren:

So a number of, in fifteen years’ experience, and I wouldn’t mind your feedback on this. The main leaks come from…there was a very well-known agency CEO who if his current client was putting them to pitch, would leak the story early hoping to embarrass them so they wouldn’t do it.

Another one was the agency sales people, the media sales people that go around, pick up a huge amount of stuff just by walking through the office.

The third one, which is the most interesting for me, is junior marketers that will often use it to curry favour especially with their agency friends, will often talk about pitches.

And then the fourth one which is the most interesting, is that often the incumbent will know about it and start taking action well before anyone else and that’s actually where it leaks from.

Nic:

Yeah, and this is one of the few areas that I can’t comment on because I’ll never confirm a source. But what I can say is that you’d be surprised who’s brother, sister, cousin, ran into whoever and that these things don’t hold.

And that the industry talks and whether it’s media vendors or whoever, things get around and you have to recognise that you can’t control the information flow coming out.

What you can do is decide how much of it you release when and if you’re proactive about it, then it’s a lot less, I don’t know if I should.

Darren:

Well it’s no longer a secret.

Nic:

I shouldn’t be saying this because yeah, exactly the case right. If there’s a press release announcing it’s the first thing there and it’s got the bloody shortlist, then my care factor disappears until there’s a decision.

If there is a multitude of factors and the pitch changes, a lot of this is, and now I’m speaking new business, also around if the pitch is managed well, right?

The sexy pitches are often the ones that are run by clients themselves and they have no idea what they’re doing and they’re back and forwards and so and so is on the list and then they’re off.

It’s when the process is badly run that I end up with lots of fodder because things go wrong and that becomes newsworthy and that’s a marketer’s nightmare and I get that.

Darren:

And there are complaints because people don’t like the fact that they’re feeling disempowered to actually say anything, especially if they’re the agency in that.

Nic:

And when things go wrong, we hear about it, alright? So if your agencies are suddenly complaining about, I don’t know, having to work on a pitch over Easter, you can guarantee if you call a pitch before Easter, you can guarantee that by the time, within three days of you putting down the phone and ruining everyone’s holiday break, I’ll have heard about it and I will write about it because that’s my job. My job is in that instance, to call clients to account.

Darren:

I noticed you picked Easter and not Christmas because you’ve already gone on holidays by the time the pitch is landed on the agency to work over Christmas/New Year.

So there you go people, if you’re going to pull that sort of stunt, you need to send the brief out just before Christmas because all of the trade journalists are actually on holidays.

Nic:

That’s a complete lie and if you call a pitch on Christmas Eve, I will write about it.

Darren:

Look, this is really interesting from my point of view because I’ve seen in markets and especially in Asia, because of culture, the role of the industry journalists is really just to report what people want them to report.

Now, I know mUmBRELLA in Asia and probably challenging that a little bit, but I wouldn’t mind, and I’m not asking you to champion your existence or justify your existence, but I’ve heard quite a lot of criticism about the role of holding people to account, okay?

What are some of the positives that come out of that? Have you, I mean, you’ve been doing this for three, yes specifically in marketing at mUmBRELLA for how many years?

Nic:

Three years at mUmBRELLA and another two years at The Australian before that, so I’ve done various roles. I’ve done something for a national title where you only do the big stories and a pitch wouldn’t really register.

I did a very big investigation around transparency in one of the big holding groups here that got picked up by all of the nationals and really did drive an industry-wide debate this year.

And I guess I have to cite that as an example of where I think we did a real positive for the industry because we held people to account and said, “You know what? The practices going on here are both” and when they were acknowledged by the parties involved to be unethical and possibly unlawful, and I think everyone benefits from having that exposed.

Clients were being given incorrect information at a minimum and in some instances they were being charged for inventory that rightfully belonged to them or that was refunded. And there was a real industry-wide debate about, have we gone too far? That’s a real positive.

If we take it to other contacts, I think it’s important for clients to know who’s doing well and who’s not doing well and that has to be judged by the market, but we’re an important voice in forming that debate otherwise, how do you know who to put on a shortlist?

You know, the industry looks to us to lead that. The industry also looks to us to lead the discussion around new innovation. There are a lot of marketers getting their heads around what programmatic means.

A lot of our stuff is about educating people about what’s next or what’s happening or what does this trend mean. I sometimes joke that a lot of my job is to chart the decline of traditional media while also writing about what new media is coming through and that’s why I spent three weeks in New York.

I spent a lot of time at the digital new fronts looking at all these global players who are going to completely redefine how the media landscape works.

And then I spent time with the newspaper industry and the World Congress of Newspapers which happened to be on there, which was all about where the newspapers going,

“Are we going to be around in five years and how do we pull the right levers to still have an audience?” and that’s really valuable for the media agencies, for the marketers, etcetera.

Now, in that discussion, I’m holding the newspapers to account because I’m going, “Is your revenue going to come up faster than your advertising?”These are really important questions and no one had the answers.

Darren:

And business questions as well as industry important questions.

Nic:

We try to ride across the spectrum. Again, I’m championing mUmBRELLA here but we have the largest audience in the market I would argue and therefore we write across things, and sometimes that means I can’t get into the minor issue of programmatic for example.

But I try to cater to everyone from the chief marketing officer right down to the 22-year-old PR executive that’s just come out of uni. But the industry needs that voice and it needs somewhere to turn to and I see us as that.

Our competitors will argue they do the same thing and you know, it’s a media revolution and that impacts everybody. Someone has to play a role in educating the industry because otherwise we’re all worse off for it.

Darren:

Well look, this has been a great conversation. Thank you.

Obviously some great points around the importance of building personal brand and how to do that by working with a journalist you know. Actually engaging with them.

And round the world, that the industry journalists have in actually helping the industry get better at what it does, and also the third point was really around confidentiality in today’s world which doesn’t exist when there’s lots of people and the prize is really big.

I loved your quote about, “any secret is a great news story”. So as soon as you’ve got a secret, expect it to appear somewhere, probably most likely mUmBRELLA.

Thanks Nic very much and look, we’re off the record now, did you hear about the…

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Darren is considered a thought leader on all aspects of marketing management. A Problem Solver, Negotiator, Founder & Global CEO of TrinityP3 - Marketing Management Consultants, founding member of the Marketing FIRST Forum and Author. He is also a Past-Chair of the Australian Marketing Institute, Ex-Medical Scientist and Ex-Creative Director. And in his spare time he sleeps. Darren's Bio Here Email: darren@trinityp3.com

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