I went to a fascinating and eye opening talk from Karen Blackett OBE this week.    She is the Chairwoman of Mediacom UK – one of the world’s largest media agencies and she was speaking at the University of Portsmouth (where she is an alumni).

Karen was an inspirational and engaging speaker – and took us on a quick tour of the future – some of which is already here it seems.

She was discussing how to future proof a company – how do you prepare for the unexpected?

Much has changed in the world of marketing over the last decade or more, terrestrial TV audiences are plummeting, consumers are not watching adverts any more – the use of ad blockers is on the rise and most people skip through adverts now.   So how do companies (and Karen’s agency represents some of the worlds biggest brands) engage their audience and get their message across?

Some facts 🙂

First some facts from Karen that I jotted down because they were surprising:

  • 55% of online supermarket shoppers just click once and purchase last weeks shop – there is not much opportunity to sell to that group!
  • We have on average about 80-90 apps on our phones but use on average only 5 – is the development of an app worth it?
  • The average Facebook user checks their page 14 times a day!

Some solutions

Karen’s solution is constant innovation and creativity.     Thinking differently to use what you have, and never, ever standing still.

Charities are losing cash donations – trial a scheme to tap the charity shop window to donate £2 by contactless!

Users love personalisation – how about a Coke bottle with your name on it when you log into 4OD?!

Personalised adverts for your football team – based on complicated algorithms to work out who supports who!

With 50% of people watching TV and playing on their tablet or phone (guilty!) – synchronised adverts across all media.

And lastly massive digital billboards that change to market the song that the local radio station is playing – synchronized across busses, bus shelters and Spotify messages to your phone!

Incredible – I had no idea these things were already happening.


Karen explained that she now hires a very different group of people – she needs superheroes – all with their own superpowers that they can bring to the team.

She needs a diverse team – the more ethnically and gender diverse a company, the more it out performs it’s rivals.

She runs a successful apprentice scheme which targets young people from tougher backgrounds in order to bring new ideas into the firm.

I was also very interested to hear how much she encourages training – in order to keep her staff creative – and mindfulness.

She talked about a work life blend, not a work life balance which, as she said, sounds like a struggle.   Blending the two seems to be the recipe for a much happier life.

Lastly, she works with small start ups which gives a boost to the creativity, brings new ideas and enthusiasms and gives them a fantastic opportunity to work with some of the UKs largest companies.

It was an inspiring talk, and I would love to work in a company that valued their staff in the way that Karen described.

The future

In the future, to survive, all of us need to innovate, change, reinvent ourselves.   Our companies need to be flexible and diverse and full of creative experts ready to make use of the opportunities that arise.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.