Hearst Magazines UK restructures commercial team to sell across brands

Chater: 'We can have a broader conversation whenever we’re out with agencies or clients.'
Chater: 'We can have a broader conversation whenever we’re out with agencies or clients.'

Hearst Magazines UK has restructured its commercial team into sector-specific teams.

It is the first rejig by Duncan Chater, the chief revenue officer, who stepped up in September after Ella Dolphin left to become Shortlist Media’s chief executive.

In an interview with Campaign, he said that the commercial teams will be split into sectors so that they can cross-sell against different brands. Hearst publishes titles including Cosmopolitan, Good Housekeeping and Men's Health.

For example, there will be a luxury and interiors team. They will mainly work on Elle Decoration but will also be able to speak to advertisers about other titles such as Harpers Bazaar, Town and Country and Red.

Chater said: "From previously where we’ve been very brand-focused with our commercial efforts, we’re now building more central functions to service our clients with one point of contact across all of our brands and platforms.

"It means we can have a broader conversation whenever we’re out with agencies or clients."

Chater added that this is the approach that clients and agencies have been asking for. "Everyone has far less time on their hands and to be able to summarise what’s going on is much more efficient," he said.

"It’s putting us in a position where we have a lot broader conversations and that leads to more opportunities and more ambitious projects. I want the team largely focused on extending our brands and utilising the power of our brands in the best way we can."

Hearst is also setting up a "partnerships ideation division" to work on branded content or "concepts and ideas for sponsorships and big partnerships".

Chater said the business will be ramping up its branded content side in 2017, with plans to do "far more large scale" campaigns worth more than £500,000 than it has ever done before. He said that Hearst UK has received "more briefs to answer over the first quarter of the year for as long as I can remember".

He added: "We’re in a better place to deliver them, we’re more ambitious to find those briefs and now we have some really talented people in the business."

The changes to the commercial team come at a time of change at Hearst UK. The publisher’s chief executive Anna Jones announced her departure a month after Chater’s appointment, and Andy Hart, chief revenue officer at Hearst Magazines International in London left after a year.

Then, in late November 2016, Hearst reported a £5.4m loss in the UK with plans to close titles. However, Chater explained that this loss was to do with the distribution company Comag.

He added: "If you look at our core business, our profits are up year on year. We had our best Q4 performance in print and digital; both revenues were way above what we were forecasting to achieve."

Chater was also positive about the talent in the team. "A lot’s been written about people who have left Hearst for different reasons but we have some really amazing people," he said.

He picked out Tracy Yaverbaun, global vice president for digital at Hearst Magazines International who joined from Facebook in August; Clare Gorman, the chief operations director at Hearst UK who joined in April as director of sales operations for the international arm from AOL; and Simon Reed, the international trading director who joined in May, also from AOL.

Last month, David Carey, the president of Hearst Magazines, told Campaign that he hoped to appoint a new chief executive in the UK by February next year. He said this person will drive an "ambitious M&A strategy".

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