The Fishbowl: Nicole O’Shea, GB News
The Media Leader’s interview series asks the media industry’s top salespeople revealing questions, drawn from our fishbowl. The questions are drawn at random and contain some tricky posers set by the commercial chiefs themselves.
This week is Nicole O’Shea, commercial director at GB News.
Nicole O’Shea joined GB News as commercial director in 2022 after more than 12 years at News UK.
During her time at News UK she moved from sales manager for The Irish Sun to director of sales for the regions in the UK.
Before News UK, she held sales and trading roles at The Irish Mirror and Irish News of the World.
O’Shea is also a co-founder and trustee of Bloom North and was a chairperson for industry wellbeing charity Nabs for three years.
How did you end up working in media?
I studied Business Studies at the University of Limerick, Ireland. I was always interested in media but had no idea how to get involved. My marketing communications lecturer suggested I look at applying for the MSc in Advertising in the Dublin Institute of Technology, which I did.
Part of the end-of-year assessment was to pitch at an event with the Irish ad industry, basically pitching myself, and through this I landed my first job in media sales with outdoor company PML. From there I moved to the exciting world of tabloid newspapers with The Mirror, and later The Sun.
Why are you passionate about media?
I’m endlessly fascinated by the relationship between brands and audiences, and playing my part in helping brands and agencies alike to get the most out of that relationship.
It’s impossible to be bored in media. There are so many roles, platforms, and markets to explore that no one needs to be pigeonholed in their career.
I have met so many inspiring people over the years, and I feel a constant sense of excitement about the ones I’ve yet to meet.
**Peer question** What moment (or event) was the biggest turning point in your career?
After seven years working in News UK Ireland, I plucked up the courage to ask my wonderful mentor if he could help me move to News Corp in New York. I thought I needed to move that far to learn and grow.
He suggested Manchester as head of agency sales as my first stop. It turned out to be the best thing imaginable. I’ve been based here now for 12 years and I love being a part of this thriving and wonderful ad community.
Leaving Ireland was a huge and scary step for me, but pushing through that fear taught me that I didn’t need to move far to get involved in a very different market that would embrace me, welcome me, and teach me so much.
I had this same feeling when I began working with other female leaders in the industry to co-found Bloom North, and then again with the big jump to GB News a year ago.
** Question from Sarah Goldman, director of advertising at UKTV.
Which advertiser would you love to work with (but don’t already) and how would you sell GB News specifically to them?
It’s fair to say that there is more than one advertiser I would love to work with! The main message I would like to land with brands is that GB News now has cross-platform scale.
We have a loyal viewership of 3.4 million monthly, often outperforming our main competitors in daily ratings. GB News Radio is now reaching almost 400k weekly listeners and online, gbnews.com is growing at an unprecedented rate in a saturated market. Our website is growing faster than any other in the sector, and now ranks in the top 20 UK news sites, coming in at well over 80 million page views for November.
Above all, in a market where media budgets are tighter than ever, our audience really delivers ROI for your brand.
I would also say to the market: please judge GB News by its content, absorbed in context, because it is very different from what some of our critics have said about us. GB News is firmly part of the UK’s media landscape and I would urge anyone with a genuine interest in understanding all perspectives to follow us on X or Meta, or just spend a while watching it live on TV, YouTube, or via the website.
**Peer question** Who are your role models?
All of the working Mums in the world. I have a four-year-old daughter and whilst I’ve always prided myself in being a cheerleader for women, I never quite appreciated the havoc that one toddler can wreak on your career life.
I’m also inspired by journalists. Having worked with newsbrands for so long, I’m in awe of the way journalists put themselves out there daily for their stories, no matter what the backlash from those who’d prefer not to be held to account in public.
A few years ago, I read the book by Times Sports journalist and Irishman David Walsh about how he exposed Lance Armstrong and the US cycling team for doping. He and his reporting team endured intense character attacks for over 10 years, but somehow had the resilience to power through in their search for the truth, eventually finding that moment of vindication via none other than Oprah Winfrey. I just thought, that shows real purpose and determination. I have to work on that in myself, a lot.
**Question from Davina Barker, sales director at DCM.
Which actor would play you in the film of your life and why?
I would love for Winona Ryder to play me. Many of her characters are somewhat frantic, with a wry take on the world but also a sharp focus on doing whatever crazy thing it takes to solve the problem. This is how I feel daily so I think she would do a great job in capturing my life.
What keeps coming up in conversations with clients at the moment?
People are talking more and more about the election next year and what it might mean for them. There’s a strong sense of anticipation. GB News has an incredibly strong political team led by the legendary Christopher Hope, and we break a great many political exclusives, so I feel like we have front row seats to events.
As more politicians become aware of our audience reach, more are coming onto the channel from all sides of politics, including Rishi Sunak and Sir Keir Starmer as well as many Cabinet or Shadow Cabinet members.
What’s different about GB News is that the presenters are very respectful and avoid that finger-jabbing style of political interview, so you really get to hear what our MPs are saying.
What is one non-work-related goal that you would like to achieve in the next five years?
I completed The Foundations in Coaching Practice with the I Coach academy a few years ago, qualifying as an accredited coach. Coaching requires a lot of practice, training, and time. I would like to continue my coaching journey, progressing to the next level. Building up my coaching hours and truly defining what type of coach I am within the next 5 years.
What’s your favourite ad of all time?
In the spirit of Christmas, I don’t think you can beat the original Coca Cola, “Holidays are coming” TV commercial. The music, the magical lighting, it will always create that Christmas feeling in your soul.
What one thing would you change when dealing with media agencies?
The GB News Commercial team see ourselves as an ally to media agencies. We are here to demonstrate our audience delivery and we enjoy a lively debate.
Media agencies all have different personalities and pressures, so it’s vital for us to gather as much data and research as we can get our hands on to prove how we can best service them and their clients.
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 email@example.com.