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A Day in the Life of Ben Bolton
10 January 2012
Ben Bolton is a Communications Executive at IPC Media, focused on getting media coverage and other exposure for some of the magazine firm’s male and entertainment titles, in particular young mens title Nuts, gaming website Mousebreaker, and more recently the NME’s annual awards.
Having decided early on that he wanted a media-related career, it was while working at EMAP – and liaising with PR contacts – that he decided it was that side of the equation that interested him most. We spoke to Ben about his career to date, and how he goes about getting his magazines coverage in other media.
Tell us about your career to date. How did you get into PR? Did you study PR at all? How did you get your current role at IPC?
Although I didn’t study PR, I always wanted to be involved in the media, and moved to London about four years ago with my sights set on making that happen. I started off working for publishers EMAP on their B2B directories. As part of that role, I had to monitor the trade press and deal with press offices on a daily basis. It was during this time that I decided PR was the route I wanted to take.
I had always been a long-time admirer of IPC Media and its brands, so when I saw a job advertised on the IPC website for a press office assistant, it was the perfect role and I was lucky enough to be selected. I started off doing a lot of scanning coverage and other admin, but with a really supportive director and manager, I have managed to gain a lot more responsibility and work across a variety of exciting projects.
What does your current job involve?
My current role is extremely varied. My job can go from selling-in exclusive interviews and photo shoots from Nuts magazine to other media, to working on retail promotions for our distributor Marketforce. It is also a big part of my job to be on top of all the trade press stories, and capture any relevant coverage to feedback to the appropriate personnel within the business. I was also involved with the PR for the NME Awards for the first time this year, which was a lot of hard work but absolutely brilliant.
What does your average day consist of?
I’m not sure there really is an ‘average day’. However, we always start by looking through the trade press and newspapers to get a good grasp of what’s going on and feeding back any relevant coverage and stories to the business. Then, depending on which day it is, I will either be drafting press releases and selecting suitable images, selling in stories, meeting various internal clients, monitoring coverage and social-media, updating our corporate website or speaking to journalists.
You work on both print titles and online titles – in particular the Nuts magazine and Mousbreaker website – does the way you promote print and online media differ?
Not especially, as our titles often operate cross-platform, and our online-only titles work with our print titles. So, for example, Nuts and Mousebreaker have been involved in partnerships which will see the creation of a Mousebreaker flash game and a video, which will then be hosted on the Nuts website and the promoted with editorial content in the Nuts magazine.
Obviously you approach different kinds of media depending on the publication you are promoting – so Nuts tend to have the more picture/gossip-led stories that suit the TV and showbusiness desks at newspapers, whereas Mousebreaker are renowned for creating topical games relating to current news stories which are more relevant to news desks – but those differences are based on content, not how that content is delivered to the reader.
You have a specific focus on Nuts magazine, what kind of activity does promoting that title involve? Is it based around content in the magazine, or do you create bespoke PR initiatives?
The main focus is predominantly around the content of the magazine. They have some great interviews and images that I sell into other national media, especially newspapers, on condition that they include a cover image and attribution to the magazine. However, there have been some bespoke PR initiatives too. A particular stand-out was when Nuts delivered a giant framed portrait of Kate Middleton, posing in her lingerie. to Prince William as a wedding gift!
You recently won the award for ‘PR Campaign Of The Year’ at the IPC Media Marketing Awards. What was that for?
It was a no budget PR campaign to raise the profile of the Nuts brand and its cutting edge editorial content in the national press. The idea behind the campaign was to build relationships with journalists and picture desks, and to then provide them with suitable newsworthy content that would sit seamlessly either in their newspaper or on their website, and in turn help drive magazine sales and raise the profile of Nuts, all of which was successfully achieved.
Obviously Nuts is read by a young male readership, is social media and/or mobile important when trying to engage this audience?
Most definitely. Nuts is one of IPC Media’s mobile-optimised sites, which allows consumers to browse a multitude of content on their phones. Nuts also has a big Facebook and Twitter presence, while Mousebreaker offers great games such as Mousebreaker Galacticos Football 11, which allows users to play against their friends on Facebook.
Is it odd doing PR for a media company – do rival media treat you with suspicion!?
I can honestly say I haven’t experienced any of that! Perhaps I have been lucky. But if the content is strong enough, then outlets such as The Sun and Mail Online are happy to use it and give you the relevant attribution.
What are the best bits about working in PR?
The best bit is always seeing the coverage that you’ve generated appear in print or online – that novelty will never wear off! I’m also lucky that I get to work across some of the biggest consumer and digital brands in the UK.
What are the worst bits?
Probably the obvious fact that coverage is never guaranteed.
Tell us something about yourself we couldn’t find out online?
I could tell you a lot actually. My social media settings are very secure – I don’t even have my surname on Facebook!