Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

My Digital Hero: Laura Hartley of Buddy Media Group 

Laura Hartley is Director of Organic Social at Buddy Media Group. She joined the company in May of this year, following roles with iProspect, Isobar, Naked Communications and The Social Shepherd. Here, she reveals the person that has most inspired her in her career… 

Who is your digital hero?

Most people I work with will have heard this a hundred times, especially the fact I got to work with her briefly!

My digital hero is Nicole Yershon, founder of the NY Collective and before that, Ogilvy Labs. 

How has their heroism helped drive digital?

Nicole was literally on the front line of innovation when she launched Ogilvy Labs – she fundamentally changed how the agency (and arguably so many others that were following their example) navigated non-traditional marketing briefs connecting big sexy creative with tech. So many leaders confuse disruption with chaos, Nicole knows how to pair innovation with big ideas to direct genuine change. 

Her experience in the industry is honestly second to none (and that’s before we mention the incredible family credentials – her equally wonderful and inspiring dad Mike Yershon created powerhouse Carat) yet she continues to focus on the importance of education, and then reeducation.  That’s something a lot of self-proclaimed ‘digital gurus’ tend to overlook, and if you ever need some inspiration her LinkedIn feed never fails to work. 

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

The sheer amount of wastage that occurs with digital media – there’s sometimes still a misconception that it’s cheap media but that doesn’t mean it’s ok to misdirect a few hundred impressions. This is especially true of influencer spend. For an influencer with 1 million followers, you’ll pay a premium even though of that audience only a percentage will actually see their sponsored content. And of that specific percentage only a smaller pool will be based in the UK, and then you have a limited number of the gender you want to target, and then the age range and so on. By the time you’re live you’ve paid for 1 million users but have reached maybe 40 thousand relevant ones. 

At Buddy we’ve developed a model to reach significantly more of this audience to maximise on spend and deliver genuine ROI but it’s not commonplace in the industry. 

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

Heroic might not be the right word, proudest (or at least one of them) would have to be my time at Navigate (Digital Visitor as it was named then). Pre Covid when the UK’s most loved visitor attractions were losing footfall to people sitting on the sofa watching Netflix, I built a digital team to deliver campaigns that genuinely got people experiencing the best British museums, galleries, theme parks – even Parliament. It was so tactical, beyond feed placements and focusing more on genuine behaviour. When do tourists realistically take out their phone, how can we reach them? And how do we speak to the 17-year-old school dropout who doesn’t think history is for them?

I worked with the likes of Zip World, Cutty Sark, the Science Museums, the Royal Observatory and everything in between. It wasn’t just about selling tickets for a nice day out but also shaping education for underrepresented youth groups, making galleries feel less intimidating and helping smaller locations raise funds to stay open in the first place. Can I add in a sneaky second digital hero? Bernard Donoghue OBE – Mayor of London’s Cultural Ambassador, CEO of Alva to name a few of his titles. Follow his Twitter feed for the best in British tourism news.