The Fishbowl: James White, Evening Standard

The Fishbowl: James White, Evening Standard

The Media Leader’s interview series asks the media industry’s top salespeople revealing questions, drawn from our fishbowl. The questions will be drawn at random and contain some tricky posers set by the commercial chiefs themselves.

This week is James White, commercial director at the Evening Standard.

James White was appointed commercial director of the Evening Standard in February 2020, shortly before leading the sales team through the uncertainty of the pandemic.

He is responsible for all revenue lines across the multi-platform Standard news brand and is currently leading the commercialisation of the digital evolution.

He joined the Evening Standard in 2006 as agency sales executive and worked his way through the business in a variety of roles that made the most of his relationships throughout the industry.

Previously he worked at both The Scotsman and The Independent.

What’s been your biggest challenge this year and what are you doing about it?

Navigating through the challenging market conditions linked primarily to the cost-of-living crisis. The team are incredibly proactive in market ensuring that we deliver the right noise. In a world with so much misinformation and disinformation, news brands have never been more important.

In such a fragmented media landscape, where a few giants take over 80p of every pound, traditional media platforms should be recognised and trusted to ensure consumers get accurate and trusted information and best in class analysis. This requires huge investment from news brands that should be supported commercially.

A world without news brands is a scary one. Ensuring that key messages related to high engagement, quality environments, diverse audiences (Evening Standard being the most diverse in market) and responsible advertising is fully supported with ad spend is our current priority.

What are the three most important skills that a media salesperson needs in 2023?

Always listen first, make yourself uncomfortable in order to find the right solution and lastly be authentic — this is the only way you can you be the best version of yourself.

**Peer question** If you were to acquire, or consolidate with another media company, which would it be?

Ocean Outdoor. I’ve always been a huge fan of its USP and value in market, there is a tremendous amount of synergy between the Evening Standard and Ocean.

**Question from Dominic Williams, chief revenue officer at Mail Metro Media. 

What was the last podcast you listened to?

Diary of a CEO with Steven Bartlett and guest speaker Mo Gawdat (former chief business officer for Google X) discussing the dangers of artificial intelligence. It’s incredibly enlightening, and scary!

Name all the streaming platforms you subscribe (pay money) to.

Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+ & Apple TV+.

What are clients most excited about right now?

Some may jump straight to AI or the Metaverse. However, I’ll highlight sustainable investment as there is a greater problem to solve here.

What is one of your greatest achievements?

Personally — my children.

Professionally — steering the Evening Standard through the challenges of Covid-19 and keeping the ball moving forward and into a new exciting chapter.

**Peer question** What’s the best piece of advice a boss or colleague has ever given you?

Stop playing draughts and start playing chess.

**Question from Laura Chase, chief commercial officer at WeAre8.

Which advertiser would you love to work with (but don’t already) and how would you sell Evening Standard specifically to them?

The Evening Standard has a highly valuable, curious, and diverse audience. Alongside this, our advertising revenue covers a multitude of categories and we are fortunate enough to work with the majority of major brands across high fashion to FMCG to telecoms and that is in part to due to our award-winning Studio27 and our effective multiplatform environment.

Sport is a sector where we continue to thrive, through incredible content and an engaged audience and, as a London publication, we should explore partnership opportunities with Tottenham Hotspur. It would be great to work with the Premier League club to promote its new Formula 1 indoor track and I would be happy to do as much research as required, especially if it’s at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium…

What do you hope to be doing 10 years from now?

Coaching under-privileged individuals and having more holidays and experiences with my family.

Read more Fishbowl interviews here and see what media’s top salespeople say about working in the industry and what concerns their clients. To suggest an interviewee, contact ella.sagar@uk.adwanted.com.

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