Interviewing the Interviewers: Charlotte Mceleny

One of the privileges and joys of journalism is meeting and interviewing truly inspirational people.  The new digital age has meant this privilege has now opened up beyond professional journalists, with some of the most thought-provoking interviews now conducted by numerous industry thought leaders in addition to our most respected journalists.

In NDA’s Interviewing the Interviewers series, we caught up with some of the best interviewers in our industry, from journalists to independent content creators, turning the tables to find out what makes them tick.

Charlotte is Publisher APAC at The Drum. Based in Singapore, driving the content and commercial strategy for the publisher.

Prior to The Drum, she was digital editor of Marketing Magazine, associate editor at 12ahead, and news editor at New Media Age. She discusses why she’s finally OK with buzzwords and why Sir John Hegarty was one of her favourite interviews last year.

What was your favourite ad of 2018?

My favourite ad was by DDB for Stayfree in India, called ‘Project Free Period’India’s leading with a really progressive narrative on periods, partly because culturally it’s very much needed. But this particular campaign is cool because, by telling the story of sex workers who look forward to their period as a break from work, it turns the emotions around menstruation on its head.

As with all the great social cause campaigns, they made sure they walked the walk too and are working with charities to use sex workers’ ‘time off’ to learn new skills.

What is the buzzword or phrase you’d like to ban forever?

I think buzzwords can be useful, I used to hate them but in my older age I just think, whatever gets people nearer to a point of doing something meaningful is fine by me. In APAC, with a lot of emerging markets and differing speeds of adoption, you can’t spend your time being arrogant about what word or phrase is ‘in or out’.

What is your biggest hope and your biggest fear for the media industry in 2019?

My biggest hope is that people respect and pay what a good job costs, by biggest fear is that we keep racing each other to the bottom.

What was your biggest personal industry highlight of 2018?

Personally, I have enjoyed seeing the massive structural shifts across the industry move some women to lead businesses, though there’s more to be done there this year.

Who was the most inspirational person you interviewed in 2018 and why?

I had year of interviewing a few industry legends, including the chance to speak to Sir Martin Sorrel just before he left WPPSir John Hegarty was also on my interview bucket list and he had the most beautiful views on how great our industry should be.

I think the one I was left feeling truly inspired by was DDB worldwide CEO Wendy Clark because she was so warm and yet she’s clearly such a fierce leader. I wish I could bottle a bit of that energy up and drink it every morning.

What one technology are you most excited about this year and why?

I think voice has got to be the technology I am excited about, both personally and from an industry point of view. I am starting to muck about with voice at home and there’s some interesting work going on in the industry, iProspect and Google in Singapore are doing some fascinating work together on voice.

Who’s the one industry figure you’d most like to interview you yet haven’t?

I’d love to have a chinwag with Bozoma Saint John, she’s making waves for a new type of CMO, for women in business generally. She’s cool as hell and I bet she has some really great stories. 

How could someone persuade you to interview them and what would put you off completely?

The best way to convince me to interview you is to get in touch with something interesting, a fresh perspective and one that considers the bigger industry picture, or even society.

The biggest thing that puts me off is peddling the same industry point of view and self-interest. I am always trying to think – does this opinion or news help a marketer move forward? Or does it spark a debate that’s worth having?

Read more Interviewing the Interviewers series here.


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