NEWS ANALYSIS: Why media owners dream of recruiting senior agency staff - Agency people have skills that media chiefs can’t do without

By COLIN GRIMSHAW, campaignlive.co.uk, Monday, 19 June 2000 12:00AM

The courting of senior agency people by media owners has reached new heights. It’s not clients’ business that is being discussed in clandestine meetings in discreet hotel lounges. No, what media bosses are selling are some of the top sales jobs in the industry.

The courting of senior agency people by media owners has reached

new heights. It’s not clients’ business that is being discussed in

clandestine meetings in discreet hotel lounges. No, what media bosses

are selling are some of the top sales jobs in the industry.



It is rumoured that around six agency names were considered before Emap

appointed Zenith managing partner Theresa Coligan to head its magazine

sales efforts (Media Business, 30 May). And insiders say both The Mirror

and The Sun/News of the World would prefer to fill their ad director

vacancies with agency candidates.



But top agency staff are picky and don’t come cheap. And many senior

sales people are asking why they are considered less important to media

sales than someone who has never in their life had to sell so much as a

column centimetre.



The answer lies in media owners’ increasing desire to get closer to

clients.



The days of filling space with bog standard display ads are on the

wane.



Clients have become more media savvy than ever and want to cut through

the clutter. Therefore, they are seeking creative solutions for their

communications strategies.



For media owners, this requires a first-hand understanding of clients’

needs. And as the solutions become more complex, owners would prefer to

sell their ideas directly rather than have them lost in translation by

buyers and account managers.



Dave King crossed the divide twice before returning to media sales with

Emap as head of broadcast and digital. He says that, unlike colleagues

who have never worked for agencies, he knows what makes clients

tick.



’Clients are looking for creative, cross-media ideas. Agencies that are

working on tight profit margins are receptive to media owners’ input

into the planning process,’ says King.



Daily Mail head of client sales Rosemary Gorman joined the paper from

Zenith last year. She believes clients need to have their hands held and

be gently led to the proposition. This requires a different set of

disciplines.



She adds: ’I think we cut to the chase a bit more. Our background leads

us to think things through and anticipate clients’ questions, so we

provide a more hard-hitting proposition.’



Vogue associate publisher Kate Lowe, who started at J. Walter Thompson,

says: ’You know not to waste people’s time with unnecessary calls. And

you win the client’s respect if you can understand their marketing

aims.’



Tim Lucas, who worked at JWT, BBJ and Universal McCann before joining

the National Magazine Company as corporate business development

director, thinks he has brought a consumer focus and a new business

ethic.



He explains: ’With our knowledge of different media, we are more able to

sell our medium as a generic against competing media.’



And as owners move towards cross-media selling, the broader knowledge

required is likely to increase the demand for agency staff.



King is adamant: ’If owners only have media sales in their skill sets

then they’re heading for disaster.’



This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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