It’s only her first week in her new role at Emap Advertising, yet Jenny Clarke has had a hectic few days. Clarke has just stepped into the role of head of sponsorship, promotions and client sales for Emap in Scotland, the company’s first since acquiring Scottish Radio Holdings last year.
Talking with the enthusiasm that one gets when starting a fresh job, despite her already busy schedule, Clarke sums up her first few days: “It’s been great. But like any first week in a new company you’re on that steep learning curve.”
The Emap/SRH deal last year saw Radio Clyde and Radio Forth come under the Emap wing in a deal worth £285.4m, bringing its number of radio stations to 21 in the UK. As anyone who knows their radio market will say, radio in Scotland is incredibly competitive and Clarke’s appointment came hot on the heels of the announcement that GMG - owner of Real Radio Scotland - had just purchased Paisley-basd Q96. Just as well Clarke’s got a good pedigree.
Clarke has worked in media sales and marketing for 13 years. She worked in Singapore for two years with Pearl and Dean International, something she describes as “a really exciting time’. “I was in more of a marketing role then,” she says. “It was fantastic. It was really different culturally and the media out there was quite immature compared to the UK scene but very exciting and dynamic.”
More recently she worked for Channel Four in the client strategic development team and at GWR London.
As to what her role at Emap will be, she explains: “My main priority will be to promote sponsorship and promotions ideas across Emap’s Scottish stations, but I’ll also be bringing national Emap brands to the Scottish agencies and clients. I want to open up a greater potential to target Emaps’ audience and the range of demographics that they can offer.
“I chose to work with Emap because they have an excellent reputation in the market,” she enthuses. “I think they are extremely innovative and they have a very professional reputation to match that. They show real insight into how consumers consume media and they have access to over ten million adults, which, through their Emap brands, allows us understand what consumers want and to interpret this creatively.”
Another convincing reason for Clarke to join Emap was the appointment of its commercial director, Barry Wood, from Yahoo UK, who will take up his position at Emap next month.
The two previously worked together for around two years at GWR before Wood moved to Yahoo UK to undertake the role of head of specialist agency sales.
“He’s a great guy” Clarke says of Wood. “He shows vision, he’s fun to work with, supportive and his appointment was a very influential factor in taking this role.”
When asked if there were any changes she feels she would have to make, Clarke admits that it’s still far too early to tell: “From what I can gather Emap has bought a really solid company and the foundations have been laid. So far I’ve found it to be really positive. People have been very forthcoming with information and there is a real positive attitude to bolstering the regional team.”
Clarke’s enthusiasm for the job is exemplified when she speaks with passion about the role that radio still has within the media, and its importance as the medium continues to develop and grow.
“Radio is as relevant as ever,” she says. “I think that Emap has demonstrated its commitment to radio by the huge investment that it has made. We understand Scotland geographically and have an insight into the local communities. That is vital, in Scotland in particular. Radio stations remain at the heart of these communities and this is reflected in the average spend in radio in Scotland, which is higher than the UK average.”
Predictably, Clarke has a positive outlook on the dip in advertising sales over recent times. When asked whether she feels that online advertising has affected radio revenue, she emphatically disagrees. “Locally, the internet has been more of a threat to the press,” she says. “Nationally, you might say that online has affected radio sales, but I think that we will find an equilibrium. Radio still has a really important part to play in the mix because of the nature of the medium.
“Certainly from my perspective of what’s happening in Scotland, I think the market has been quite tough, I think that everyone would admit that trading conditions have been quite harsh over the last year, but looking to the future, media owners are no longer one dimensional - they are looking at other revenue schemes, so growth will be in those areas, hence the creation of my role.”
Radio advertising’s future is a positive one, according to Clarke, although she admits that it might need to go through some changes to find continued ways to innovate and succeed. “I certainly think that we [Scotland] are going to follow the pattern of the rest of the UK,” she says. “The most important thing for clients and agencies is to understand how to engage the consumer and how media brands can work for their audience. The engagement of the consumer is the absolutely holy grail of the media planner and that’s why brands such as Emap’s will become more relevant in the marketplace.
“There are media options for whatever size of client you are. Advertising will remain prudent, whether it is just on Radio Forth or across Scotland or across the big city networks.
“That’s the huge benefit of radio, and certainly of this company - it has the ability to work with people with the smallest of budgets or those with the largest. It’s not exclusive.”