Interviews

Claire Beale, Editor of Marketing, Haymarket Media Group Ltd.

Claire is responsible for all editorial content aimed at brand owners and client-side marketers. Prior to this she edited Campaign for eight years and worked for the title since the mid-1990s

Tom Holmes

Founder & Chairman

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Tom Holmes talks to Claire Beale, Brand Editor of Marketing at Haymarket Media Group Ltd. 

Claire is responsible for all editorial content aimed at brand owners and client-side marketers. Prior to this she edited Campaign for eight years and worked for the title since the mid-1990s. 

She has written extensively on advertising and marketing for the national press, including a column in The Independent, and is a regular media commentator on the industry.

 

Creativebrief: As Editor of Marketing what is your primary focus?

Claire Beale: As far as our content is concerned, the focus for Marketing is about informing and inspiring our readers. But that’s not about drilling down into the functionality of the marketing role. Rather it’s about looking at how successful businesses have marketing and the brand baked into their DNA. We’re keen to help build bridges between marketers and the boardroom, so a lot of our content pulls in CEO comment and perspective, and our columnists are geared around helping marketers better talk the language of business growth.

But as the person responsible for Marketing as a business, my focus is on the financial health of the brand. That’s rooted in building the brand beyond its print heritage and ensuring that we work with our customers (readers and advertisers) across multiple channels to create more seamless journeys. That means having a clear focus on events and awards, all our digital iterations, and looking for opportunities to add new bespoke services into the mix.

Creativebrief: You recently said “it’s time for marketers to get post-digital, to stop worrying about appearing out-of-date and obsessing about the next big thing”. What did you mean by that?

Claire Beale: I think too often in our industry there’s a bandwagon mentality that clouds judgment. Things become fashionable (like ‘content’ at the moment) and marketers and agencies tumble to get involved, to talk about it on platforms and to invest in it without (always) having a real understanding of whether it’s the ‘right’ thing for their brand. It’s self-perpetuating because no-one wants to be thought behind the curve (or, worse, too old to get it) so everyone ploughs in and the trend grows. The best marketers are confident enough to stand back and make their own mind up.

Creativebrief: How do you go about enabling marketers to reposition their role at the heart of good business?

Claire Beale: This is about relentlessly proving the value in what they do. ROI has become such a challenging touchstone and the metrics against which it’s measured are sometimes too short-term. Nevertheless, marketers need to win a voice round the boardroom table and that will only happen if they understand business and finance and can position what they do in the context of corporate growth plans. The fact that the best marketing employs instinct and creative magic shouldn’t be allowed to detract from its (provable) role in driving growth.

Creativebrief: Do you think that the enthusiasts of high culture and creativity should show a little more respect for the commercial world of marketing communications?

Claire Beale: I think that respect already exists and is growing. Art and creativity have always relied on patronage and need brands more than ever to help fund quality creative content (particularly since the web has devalued certain forms of creativity – it’s now so often a free commodity). But if marketers are to work with artists to mutual benefit they need to understand more about the creative process, where they can help and where their limitations lie.

Creativebrief: Since it was founded in 1931 marketing magazine has been pivotal in our industry. How do you plan to build on its reputation?

Claire Beale: We’ve been through a dramatic relaunch to strengthen our core brand and equip it to provide a better platform for new brand extensions. Moving from a weekly to a monthly print schedule reflects the fact that we are now a “digital first” brand, owned by a “digital first” company. That means we are publishing seven days a week, throughout the day.

Our digital metrics are now at least as important as our analogue ones. Our Twitter feed now has over 190,000 followers (which, if nothing else, is an indication of how many people are engaging with our brand on that platform) and we’ve over a quarter of a million visitors to our site each month, and it’s growing, growing. Digital publishing is also allowing us to build our reputation with new audiences. A significant proportion of our web traffic comes from overseas and downloads of our iPad edition of the magazine are happening around the world.

But as well as building on our reputation across platforms and around the globe, we’re working on building our reputation in corporate boardrooms, to help raise the profile and status of marketing amongst CEOs and FDs.

Creativebrief: How do you see the media landscape unfolding in the next five years?

Claire Beale: I think brands will continue to take on some of the traditional roles of content creation and publishing to drive new, on-going relationships with their customers. But I think they’ll often continue to work with experienced content creators to do this, building new bonds with media owners that by-pass agencies altogether. But I do think there are already signs that some brands have embraced content far too enthusiastically and haven’t worked through how to relate it back to their core brand proposition.

I think consumers will start to disconnect, though, from their always-on digital lives. Issues of privacy and a re-evaluation of personal communication will see us switching away to a degree from mass social media and seeking more intimate, even analogue ways to communicate and explore content.

Creativebrief: Has the transition from a weekly to a monthly publication thrown up any challenges?

Claire Beale: To be honest, it’s been very liberating. It’s allowed us to redefine our editorial span, to create a much higher quality brand, which has attracted an amazing list of contributors (Dave Stewart, Andrew Motion, Mary Portas, Rankin, Wayne Hemmingway, Sir John Hegarty etc) and it’s put a clear focus on the role of our website, which is minute-by-minute must-know news. So we now have a more defined portfolio of platforms.

Creativebrief: What has the industry reaction to the redesign been?

Claire Beale: The response has been tremendous. We have not just redefined Marketing, we’ve redefined what a business-to-business content looks like in our space. The tablet mag has opened us up to a new overseas audience (a third of our tablet subscribers are from the US, for example, with China not far behind).

Creativebrief: You edited Campaign for over 8 years, what were your proudest achievements?

Claire Beale: Too many news scoops to name (my Campaign news team was first class); the development of products like The A List and the Annual which were amazing commercial and content successes across the years; the internationalization of the brand (I worked on the launch of Campaign Asia, Campaign India, Campaign Turkey…and there’s more to come); and maintaining the brand at the centre of the advertising community.

Creativebrief: If money was no object, what would your ideal job be?

Claire Beale: I’d write.