The Marketing Institute: What does a Marketing Manager at The Irish Times do?
Claire Looby: We keep the plates spinning. From managing internal & external stakeholders to getting the best from agencies & all those who are involved in projects, the Irish Times Marketing Manager needs to be able to take in the big picture as well as keeping in mind how the cogs of a project work together. A sense of humour is vital, as well as a true, honest commitment to the brand and all colleagues throughout the organisation. Essentially, our work has to be all about the people who create and read our product.
What were your key career moves to get to your current role?
I took the scenic route. Previous to joining The Irish Times I worked with the Wexford Festival Opera in roles across the organisation, front of house and literally behind the scenes. That was a great grounding in being proactive and getting involved in whatever needed to be done so that the show could go on. In the media world it is essential to have that kind of flexibility and drive as things can develop and change quite quickly. I joined The Irish Times in the Advertising (now Media Solutions) department, and that gave me the opportunity to get to know the brand and staff really well. I am a firm believer in the value of experience and I would say that one of the most valuable tools in the Marketing Manager’s toolbox is the ability to access all their experience in order to drive a project to success.
What is the biggest challenge you face in your role?
Sometimes it seems that there just aren’t enough hours in the day – not that I’m advocating a 24-hour working day! When you’re working concurrently on a number of key projects, as we often are in The Irish Times, it can be a challenge to take a step back and monitor progress. Headspace is needed to make clear decisions and to see the opportunities that turn a good campaign into a great one; that takes effort in itself, but it’s well worth it.
What key skills do you need to be effective in your role?
There are common threads that weave through the role of Marketing Manager across a range of sectors, but some that are key in my current role are clear-headedness and energy to react in a positive way to new developments. We measure effectiveness through a number of tools, including reader feedback, sales and awards – of which we have won several. But to be effective as a team leader and key player the most important thing is to listen... to the team, to colleagues across the organisation, and to our readers. It’s all about having the radar switched on.
Describe a typical working day.
I’m sure other marketers will echo this – there’s no such thing as a ‘typical’ working day. As a team we make sure that we set time aside throughout the week for formal and informal catch-ups, so we’re all aware of the workflow and potential challenges that each member of the team is facing in the week. The scope of our activity is very wide, including large and small events, ATL campaigns and all-important digital campaigns. Planning is key, so we map out activity in the short- and long-term and that gives the team the necessary framework for all our activities, as well as the freedom to bring fresh ideas into play wherever we can.
What do you love most about your role?
This is one of the most interesting jobs in one of the most interesting organisations in the country. The phrase “there’s never a dull moment” doesn’t come close to describing a day in the life of The Irish Times. I have a unique opportunity to rub shoulders with some of the best and brightest thinkers in the country, and I really do believe that the company you keep raises your intellectual abilities. I am very fond of saying that the Marketing team here is the hardest-working team in the city, and I’m happy to stand by that.
Looking ahead, where might your career path lead to next?
The possibilities are endless. I have been very fortunate to have the opportunity to learn and grow within The Irish Times and the contacts I have made through various projects and campaigns are second to none. I am a huge fan of life-long learning and I think that the more opportunities we have to learn in our working day, the more fulfilled and productive we can be. I’m very excited to be part of the next stage in The Irish Times’ development as a media organisation. There really never is a dull moment.
To whom do you look for professional inspiration in your role?
I’m a bit like a magpie in my sources of inspiration and I am constantly learning from colleagues, team-mates, clients and readers. Over the years I have had the privilege to work with some impressive people within the organisation and they have helped to shape my thinking in so many ways. I think that it is incumbent on any marketer to source inspiration from many places, not just from our own discipline. The narrower the focus, the less we’ll learn, and we cannot afford to waste any opportunity to get an insight or nugget of learning as being open to these, regardless of the source, is something that turns a good marketer into a great one.
Read more Day in the Life features