I’m writing this editor’s note knowing it’s the last one I will write for AdNews. After nearly five years, I’m moving on. It was fitting that my last hurrah was the AdNews Agency of the Year Awards last night. The fifth I've attended - and hopefully not the last.
While I’m filled with excitement about the new opportunity ahead of me, there’s always a sadness when something comes to an end. Anyone that knows me well will know how passionate I am about this industry and about AdNews. How I love big brands doing bold things, creative agencies, innovative media and everything else that this incredible field encompasses.
Not many people are fortunate enough to be able to say they love their job, but I do. I have loved my time at AdNews, and before that in the UK trade press.
I think advertising, media and marketing is important, not just to those of us in the industry, but to culture and to the economy. I think a healthy, robust and high quality trade press is important too.
AdNews is 90 years old this year - that’s 90 years of the media industry and agencies recognising its value, and supporting it through relationships - both editorially and commercially.
I have been afforded an incredible opportunity to observe and be a part of an industry that has continued to fascinate me. I’ve been allowed to ask questions and meet inspirational people. I’ve reported the public side of things, and known the side that stays behind closed doors.
Yes, I spend too much time at work, and becoming editor I struggled to let go of the journalism side of the job. I probably still write more than many editors do, but that’s the thrill of this gig. I hope to retain that as I take a step across the waters to the other side.
I’ve sweated over pages, headlines, newsletters, breaking news and features, podcasts, events and awards. I’ve gotten excited over global exclusives and about interviews with superstars I admire, and enjoyed robust debate, conversations and the company of many brilliant people. I’ve had more difficult conversations than I care to remember, too.
Probably never more so than in the past year where Awards in general, and ours, have faced new challenges.Those challenges go way beyond AdNews.
I believe deeply that awards have inherent value. The great work, innovative thinking, and strong businesses in this industry deserve to be celebrated.
And that shouldn’t be lost.
Some have attempted to bully me and my team into decisions about the way interviews or news is reported. That’s the nature of this game. At any one time, half the audience might be furious, the other half thrilled. You take the rough with the smooth and learn how to manage expectations, egos, relationships and information.
You figure out when to publish and when not to. When to wear the criticism, and when to take a stand. Sometimes you get it right, sometimes you don’t. Not everyone agrees, and that’s fine.
I’ve learned from it all.
Some of my proudest moments have been the toughest. Early on in my editorship came the MediaCom scandal.
After AdNews broke the initial story about a mass exodus of staffers in the afternoon, as a precursor of more to come, our rival published an expose about what transpired to be the misuse of value banks and misreporting.
It was big. The biggest, and most serious story I had ever covered as a journalist, with a massive impact on the industry, the future and reputation of MediaCom, its senior leadership and the group. *Disclosure, I am joining MediaCom owner GroupM in April.
It kicked off a major focus on transparency in media that hasn't gone away, and the agency (as well as all its rivals) took measures to improve their conduct.
Transparency has dominated the past few years, and it will continue to, both for AdNews and for me at GroupM where I will be group communications director from April.
Something else I'm proud of is being part of getting The Agency Circle off the ground. Work was already being done in the background by Michele O’Neill, but I was able to bring together senior leaders from creative agencies and act as a catalyst for what is now an industry benchmark for driving progress around diversity.
A big part of my approach has been to be constructive in the way AdNews tackled the narrative and it's something I'll take with me into my new role.
I believe in the power of brands and in the people that build them. I believe marketing works. Something I hope will die down is the constant bickering between the media channels about which is better. It is exhausting.
What you need is television. You need radio, newspapers, outdoor. You need digital and social. It all works, they are all apart of the same thing.
You need a great creative idea, the right media strategy and money to put behind it. That is how you build brands, sell products and services and grow businesses.
That too, is a belief I'll take with me to GroupM.
I’m proud of everything I’ve achieved at AdNews and my small part in its incredible history. But I’m proudest of the team I assembled.
Pippa Chambers, who I have worked so closely and so well with over the past three and a half years, is taking over. Under her steady hand AdNews will continue its mission to bring Thinking, Insights and Ideas to the trade media with more weight and credibility than any other. But she will bring a different flair. Her journalism was honed in newspapers and her expertise is in tech’s impact on media.
Arvind Hickman will take on a new post that plays to his strengths and experience. He’s not afraid to take on the status quo and ask the hard questions. Lindsay Bennett will take over as online editor. For all the bad press millennials get, Lindsay proves it wrong. She’s hard-working, tenacious and ambitious.
And so I leave AdNews, which changed my life and brought me halfway across the world, for another big life change.
I can’t wait to see the next era.