Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

My Media Hero: Jed Hallam, Initiative UK

Jed Hallam is Chief Strategy Officer at media agency Initiative UK. He joined the agency from Mindshare were he spent almost five years, latterly as Head of Strategy. He’s the author of The Social Media Manifesto.

Who is your media hero?

Marco Rimini, global chief development officer at Mindshare.  

What has he done to win hero status in your eyes?

Marco was a very informal mentor for me during my time at Mindshare, and a little while after I took on the role of Head of Strategy I was chatting with Marco and asked what he thought made a great planner, and his advice has reverberated around my head every day since.

He said it was simple; “just make yourself useful”. Sounds simple enough, but it’s really easy as a strategist to get carried away with your own sense of importance – and that’s especially pertinent as you become more senior. Our role is to make ourselves useful, and try and help people make better decisions. That’s it.  

It was only a few days later when I was reading a book on account planning demi-god Stephen King, that I realised that Marco was planning royalty. He was trained by King, and part of the foundational planning department at JWT. 

How has his heroism helped drive media?

I think Marco’s unrelenting pragmatism has an impact on everyone that works with him, and it shone through in the teams that he led.

From my own perspective, that reminder of the importance of pragmatism hopefully comes through in the work that I’ve done ever since – either for clients, with my team, and with our broader agency.  

So what I’m trying to build at Initiative is a culture of pragmatic strategists and planners – people who want to get into the weeds of culture and create work that truly works for our clients.

What the biggest challenges in media we need another hero to solve?

I would love someone to solve the negativity and cynicism problem we have in our industry.

We (the royal ‘we’) love to tear others down – either for their work or their opinions – and I think it creates a pretty caustic environment. There’s barely a day goes by where I don’t feel incredibly fortunate and privileged to do the job that I do. I get to spend my days talking to some of the world’s most exciting brands, explaining how people and culture work, and working with them to find ways in which they can contribute great ideas to the world. It’s literally a dream job.

Imagine how far we could push our industry (and how much more inclusive it would be) if we all properly supported each other?  

What is your most heroic personal achievement so far in media?

Without a shadow of a doubt, it would be my contribution to what we’re doing at Initiative. In the space of two years we’ve created a genuinely different type of agency that’s gone from a shop where there were rumours we were being closed, to generating award-winning work, and winning lots of brilliant clients.

All of that is down to having a bunch of really talented people, who are all driven by the same values and belief in the power of media to shape culture.