Why the content marketing business is a shining light for women
Leading businesswoman Helena Morrissey, founder of the 30% Club, the group committed to getting more women into the boardroom, would be cheered if she took a look at the UK's content marketing sector.
Clare Hill: managing director of the Content Marketing Association
Of the 30 Content Marketing Association member agencies, no fewer than 11 have women at the very top, in either CEO or MD roles, beating Morrissey’s 30% target quite nicely. Not to mention the House of Commons, where 75% of MPs are men.
I have to say it was a pleasant surprise for me when I joined the CMA as managing director in January, after a career at ITV and in the film industry. Like other parts of the media and creative industries, they are generally regarded as female-friendly. Women, as a rule, do well and there are lots in senior positions.
But they don’t generally get to the top.
In the fast-growing world of content marketing, however, they do disproportionately well. Take Cedar, where the CEO (Clare Broadbent), MD (Eve Williams) and editorial director (Maureen Rice) all sit at the top; Redwood, where Sara Cremer has been promoted from editorial director to MD and, in June, to CEO; Publicis Blueprint, run by Geri Richards; FuturePlus run by Jayne Caple and Seven, where Jessica Gibson is MD and Nic McCarthy is content director. It’s all very inspiring.
I did a quick check on the biggest ad and media agencies to see how those industries fare. Some, like M&C Saatchi (Lisa Thomas), the AMV Group (Cilla Snowball) and MediaCom (Karen Blackett) are run by women. But they are the exception, not the rule. As for women creative directors at ad agencies – you can pretty much count them on two hands.
So why are women doing so well in content marketing?
It may be that content marketing has its roots (although changing fast now) in publishing, traditionally a route for women to the top. Certainly those like Sara Cremer, Maureen Rice and Marie O’Riordan (editor-in-chief at John Brown) all built their initial careers in consumer publishing for women.
Another reason might be that of the 400 or so brands for which our members produce content, many are aimed at women. But to counter that, our members also produce content for many financial services brands, IT and tech companies, as well as car manufacturers and airlines, none of which are biased towards female consumers.
By its nature – and now more than ever before – the content marketing business is collaborative. For those processes to work well, partnership and teamwork are essential, both within the agency and between agency and client. It may be that women work more easily in those environments.
That is not to say that only women work this way. But there’s clearly something in the waters in the content marketing industry.
Helena Morrissey, I hope you’re reading this!
Clare Hill is managing director of the Content Marketing Association
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