Interviewing the Interviewers: Lucy Handley

In NDA’s Interviewing the Interviewers series, we catch 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.

Lucy Handley is a freelance journalist, currently working largely for CNBC, covering media and marketing. A previous features editor at Marketing Week, she’s written for titles including the Guardian, The Telegraph, Huffington Post and Red magazine.

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

Hope: That marketers can better understand and sell the idea of ‘content marketing’ to their CEOs and colleagues in finance.

Fear: That crappy branded content will be passed off as editorial. 

What was your biggest personal industry highlight of 2018?

I did a talk about how women have been portrayed in advertising from the 1960s until today as part of the London Transport Museum’s series of night time events. It was great speaking to real people about the business.

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

Amy Williams from Good-Loop. She got fed up of traditional advertising, started her own adtech company with clients such as Toms Shoes and Unilever, and was named a leading women innovator by the UN.

She’s not even 30. 

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

At Cannes Lions in 2018, Alibaba had a stand in the main conference hall showing its Alimama marketing platform. One of its products, AI Copy, can produce 20,000 versions of an ad per second, based on big data analysis. That’s crazy.

Ah but you asked about this year… I’m looking forward to hearing more about targeted TV advertising (although as a consumer I sort of dread it) and how newer platforms might divert ad spend from Google and Facebook.

What was your favourite ad or media experience of 2018?

When Banksy ‘shredded’ his own artwork at Sotheby’s and brands like Ikea and Lidl and some agency creatives made their own versions.

The perfect global news story of money and mystery, and a great example of how brands/agencies can react in the moment and get coverage too.

Also, I got to see the shredded Banksy itself (anyone can visit Sotheby’s in London, a great ‘brand’ experience).

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

How long have you got? Going forward, bandwidth issues, the word ‘share’.

I don’t think the marketing industry helps itself by using phrases such as ‘brand safety’.

It’s a vitally important movement, but a phrase I can’t put in a headline because no one outside the marketing world knows what it means. 

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

Jen Rubio at Away Travel. I’m fascinated by direct-to-consumer businesses and those that think bigger than their category. Away has always said it’s more about travel in general rather than suitcases.

The brands that think big will succeed.

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

Send me a couple of lines about what they’ve done that’s different. Then meet in a coffee shop or somewhere relaxed for the interview itself, ideally without an entourage.

If a PR tells me someone is media trained and ready for interviews, that’s a huge turn off. Media training and an obsession with ‘messaging’ makes interviews bland and samey.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some brilliant PRs out there, but a parrot-style interview is the worst.

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