The Fishbowl: Lotte Jones, The News Movement

The Fishbowl: Lotte Jones, The News Movement
The Fishbowl

The Media Leader’s interview series asks the media industry’s top salespeople 10 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, it’s Lotte Jones, chief commercial officer at The News Movement.

Lotte Jones started her career as a production assistant at Endemol Shine Group, including working on the first series of Big Brother, and later became a journalist at The Times.

Jones went on to join The Forster Company as an account manager and later held leadership positions at Blue Rubicon, Surname & Surname, Teneo and Freuds.

She joined The News Movement as chief marketing officer in 2022 and became chief commercial officer in April.

Why are you passionate about media?

I never want to stop learning and I think how the world is documented has so much to teach us — from a simple social post, a feature-length documentary, a Substack feed through to written reportage and talk shows. I’m incredibly un-snobby about the corners of media I use to form my own views and opinions.

I love that with every scroll, channel change or page turn I could learn something new that alters my view on an issue. Media of all kinds keeps me curious.

Describe three qualities that make a brilliant salesperson.

I honestly think it’s just one: to truly listen. If you’re a salesperson and you’re not interested in who you’re talking to and what they’re about, you’re probably in the wrong job.

We’ve all been the person stuck in a meeting with someone on broadcast, who asks no questions or doesn’t hear your answers — it’s a deeply unpleasant experience on a human level, let alone a professional one!

Your product should feel like the logical response to someone’s problem and that only comes from listening and making what you have to say relevant and personal.

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

Achieving the right balance of traditional media products versus giving the market something unexpected.

When we set up The News Movement, we wanted to do things differently — this meant not just relying on the old media models, such as subscriptions or media impressions. We have set the commercial side of our business up as an agency, holding the hands of businesses and brands and use journalistic rigour to successfully tell their stories on social.

This is no easy task: from CEO comms through to creator engagement — the biggest challenge has been getting decision-makers to dispatch with their perceptions of how brands work with media. While it has been challenging, it is also working.

With every project we deliver, we are gathering pace and proving effectiveness for some of the world’s biggest brands. The biggest challenge has been getting market leaders to take the leap and do it differently.

What podcast do you listen to regularly and why?

I recently finished Things Fell Apart by Jon Ronson — a fascinating journey through culture wars and how misinformation gathers pace in society to disrupt lives in extraordinary ways. The role of misinformation is obviously something I’m passionate about working at The News Movement and Ronson attaches explanation to narratives we all face every day in politics, religion, work, healthcare and beyond.

I also love Heavyweight and have listened to it for a few years. Each week charts a different story from someone battling an essential truth and follows their personal journey to course-correct or seek answers. It beautifully captures the art of good storytelling and how creative interviewing can be emotionally powerful without always being earnest.

What keeps coming up in conversations with clients at the moment?

Bravery. It feels like the last three years have seen a shift, with most businesses and brands establishing their social presence and reducing their “fear” of the unknown and seeing encouraging results. But now the question “What next?” comes up more than ever.

How do we remain relevant as our audience ages? How do we navigate misinformation? How do we get the balance right between brand and “friend” to our audience? How do we not show up like a dad at a disco? How do we get this signed off internally?

All these questions require counsel and consultancy, not just good delivery — and that’s how we know what we’re doing at The News Movement is working. The ability to help steward brands’ journeys and advise at a senior level means we’re much more than a production studio. We’re able to become an extension of our clients’ teams to delivery work that changes reputations.

Peer question: Based on what you know now, what one decision in your career would you change and why?

I don’t really look back and think “If only…” because all my decisions have led me to where I am today and I’m very happy in my present.

There are definitely decisions I think I could have supersized, though — I moved to New York in my forties and sometimes wish I’d done it sooner. Deep down, it was always something I’d wanted, but it took the pause of the pandemic to truly make me take the leap.

Working in a different culture has been totally invigorating and think the blend of UK/US we have at The News Movement means we have a transatlantic working culture that harnesses the best bits of both sides of the pond.

Question from Matt Salmon, UK sales director, Snap

Peer question: What’s the most fun you’ve had doing this job?

I’d love to isolate one particular instance, but it’s impossible to have fun without good people and it’s for that reason I think the most fun I have at work is in the margins of the big set-piece moments.

Sharing a laugh over the desk or talking about the show we’ve just all seen, an article we’ve just all read or some other corner of culture we all share a love of brings me immense joy.

Equally, this all feeds a creative environment, where we are working closely with clients to make ideas thrive. Of course, work isn’t all fun and games, but the team and people you work with are so vitally important to keeping life positive and work feeling fresh.

Question from David Wilcox, commercial director, News UK broadcasting

Peer question: What’s a recent brand partnership or activation that’s stood out for you and why?

Taco Bell’s “Live Más Live” was, for me, a great example where the business of being a brand enabled them to meet their fans exactly where they were. They live-broadcast their full menu relaunch on YouTube at an event in Las Vegas to a studio full of fans they’d cherry-picked from social media.

It could have so easily missed the atmospheric mark, but the brand’s C-suite showed up with the perfect balance of genuine enthusiasm and reasoning for why they were bringing menu items back and reformulating others in an Apple-style auditorium… all with a glint in their eye.

Taco Bell is a brand genuinely having fun with its fans, not at their expense. This event marked a great departure for how businesses can be playful with moments that might have previously been corporate press releases or “olde worlde” PR stunts. They brought social media creators and IRL consumers closer than ever to deciding the business’ commercial success for the next year and I thought it was artful.

Question from Georgina Iceton, VP of partnership activation, AEG Global Partnerships

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

As you get more senior, people will criticise your work less and your character more — it only gets more personal the more responsibility you have.

It’s always been a vital reminder to keep growing and never thinking I’m done learning how to be or do things differently. I think this counts for something when working in an organisation focused on younger people.

I’m constantly being challenged with why certain things need to happen a certain way and sometimes that results in new ways of doing old things — which is no bad thing.

Question from Laura Chase, chief commercial officer, WeAre8

If you could take a year off work, what would you do?

In 1998, I spent six months in India — but I contracted malaria after swimming in The Ganges, so spent four of them in hospital after being airlifted to Thailand. I’ve been back to Thailand 12 times since, but never back to India. I think if I had a year, I’d explore it again — this time with a thermometer and a rucksack full of Paludrine and chloroquine.

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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