Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Digital Women – Lou Nylander: “being a black woman working in media often feels like a lonely place”

Lou Nylander has over sixteen years of experience holding down influential positions, managing global marketing teams and shaping the course of some of the world’s leading digital advertising companies, including PubMatic, MediaCom, AOL/ The Huffington Post and Zenith.  Five years ago, Lou founded ‘Wildflowers of London‘- Women’s Circle, a social enterprise and events business focused on empowering women in South East London, where she resides.

Why did you launch Wildflowers of London, and what were you hoping to achieve?

I set up Wildflowers of London due to some of the challenges and frustrations I faced when I was a Marketing Director within adtech. I knew that a different, more collaborative way of working could benefit many small business owners and people who wanted to approach marketing from a different vantage point.

I have over 15 years of experience holding down influential positions, managing global marketing teams and shaping the course of some of the world’s leading digital advertising companies, including PubMatic, MediaCom, AOL/ The Huffington Post and Zenith. I knew that this would be advantageous and that I just had to brave,

Before launching my consultancy in Spring 2021, I was the Global Marketing Director at Unruly and oversaw the marketing operation during its acquisition from News Corp to Tremor International. This experience ignited my interest in VC funding and investment communications. I now aim to work with clients who are raising or looking to raise funds.

I started my business in Spring 2021, three months after my father passed away from Pancreatic cancer and one year and three months after the first UK lockdown. It was difficult for me, both personally and professionally, but I made the jump and have not looked back.

What are the biggest challenges and opportunities for women in the industry today?

Six years ago, I founded ‘Wildflowers of London- Women’s Circle, a social enterprise and events business focused on empowering women in South East London, where I reside. Interestingly, in the six years since I started the networking community, I still hear horrifying stories from members of my community being belittled or overlooked in the workplace.

I am sorry to say that the most horrific stories I hear are from women of colour. Despite the groundswell around events like the tragic death of George Floyd, being a black woman working in media often feels like a lonely place, despite the ‘token’ efforts by many organisations to implement Diversity Equity and Inclusion strategies. Unfortunately, the reality of these DEI- first companies often do not fulfil the concept despite the well-meaning or PR headline seeking intentions. 

What does the industry need to do to better champion women?

Listen … listen to everybody’s stories, not just those who speak and look like you. The industry needs to invest in strategies and policies to support all women. For that to happen, there has to be an acknowledgement that intersectionality exists. I do not believe that that is the current state of affairs.

You work with companies across the digital ecosystem – what are the biggest challenges and opportunities overall for digital advertising this year?

The biggest opportunities lie outside of where I have traditionally spent most of my career. I am very interested in Influencer marketing and Digital Audio. Most of my clients are in these areas, and I love that I am learning again.

I first joined the industry as a planner buyer at Zed media in the early 2000 and loved learning about digital media. The clients I now work on provide the most exciting opportunities for marketers moving forward. Just like the banner ad did for the traditional marketers and AT&T all those years ago!

What is your most significant achievement to date?

It was starting my Women’s Circle six years ago on my own. The idea of ‘Wildflowers of London’- a women’s circle, was to break down silos and ensure a welcoming environment where ladies can get together with similar individuals.

I wanted to have a group where it did not matter if you were a mother or a professional but just where women could come together and connect and maybe learn something or acquire new skills in a relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere. So our first project was a Women’s Circle based in South-East London. Post-pandemic, this has now evolved into a community supporting women in business and is open to women all across London.

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