My Media Week: Ella Dolphin, Shortlist Media

My Media Week: Ella Dolphin, Shortlist Media

It's no ordinary week for Ella Dolphin, chief executive at Shortlist Media, where preparations for ShortList and Shortlist Media's 10th anniversary celebrations and a supporting marketing campaign are well underway.


At the moment, my working life revolves around the preparation for our 10th birthday – both for ShortList magazine and Shortlist Media. It seems like only yesterday when the magazines burst onto the streets 10 years ago creating the new terminology "freemium" and setting a precedent for quality free and a bespoke print model. 

So, my week begins with a catch up with ShortList editor Joe Mackertich, who has secured no less than 10 cover stars for the 10th birthday edition. He and his team handpicked each one to illustrate the difference a decade makes and how the face of modern masculinity is changing. Those personal touches are what we try and bring to life for the business too as we talk through the 10th birthday issue.

Making sure everything is on track, we’re also joined by our chief marketing officer Sophie Robinson to get everything in place for the consumer and trade marketing campaign that’s supporting the occasion.   

We also, of course, want to celebrate with friends of Shortlist Media, so a big party is a must. My afternoon is spent planning with the events team, who’ve lined up a cracking event on 10 October. We focus on signing off talent for the evening and finally finish by agreeing the line-up. By the time Monday ends, I can guarantee this party is going to be a memorable one.


Today is our monthly board meeting with my Shortlist leadership team and DC Thompson executives. I am lucky to have an excellent chairman in Mike Soutar who aside from founding the business, knows how to keep a board focused on the imperatives, which is critical as the business is evolving rapidly. The agenda of these meetings centres around how we work, structure and invest in the business, and we finish the meeting upbeat and confident we are heading in the right direction.

After work I make my way to Sky’s head office for an annual Wacl general meeting. This year Wacl is being led by the brilliant new president Kerry Glazer who will ensure the organisation remains relevant and purpose-driven for this generation.

As a relatively new member, I am made to feel incredibly welcome with many familiar and friendly faces in Tracy De Groose [Dentsu Aegis Network], Cilla Snowball [Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO] and Lindsey Clay [Thinkbox]. Carolyn McCall [ITV] is made an honorary member of Wacl, awarded for her outstanding contribution to the industry and to the club. These women are awesome, absolute role models and I leave feeling inspired. 


There is nothing like good news mid-week, and the morning starts with the update that the Shortlist team came fifth in the music quiz organised by Dave Grainger at M/SIX to raise money for Grenfell Tower victims. A brilliant initiative that pulled the industry together quickly and raised nearly £75k. Well done Dave! 

I always try and keep my week balanced between internal work and external meetings as I make my way over to the stunning Estee Lauder offices to catch up on their plans and what is going to matter most to their business over the next year.

There is a change affecting all industries and in this meeting we examine how we can stay close to the consumer, share valuable insights and ultimately keep them spending money on beauty products.

The day finishes with a walk over to DC Thompson offices in Fleet Street to discuss some interesting businesses emerging in our space that may present investment opportunities or strategic alliances. As a holding company DC Thompson is very keen to accelerate the Shortlist Media proposition with strategic investments and acquisitions firmly on the agenda.  


It is a very busy week for the editor-in-chief of Stylist, Lisa Smosarski, who between fashion shows is working on a significant new initiative for the brand in 2018. We discuss the commercial opportunity around it, which will be unique to the market, and I’m excited to see this develop.

We also run over the talent plan for Stylist Live which is being held at Olympia in November; I'm looking forward to hearing from Russell Brand, one of the brave men who will be on stage. The momentum of a bigger venue is working well with ticket sales up on last year and perfect sponsors on board with Nissan, Diet Coke and BaByliss among those signed up.  

Later in the day, I’m sent one of our newest original video series for the autumn, "The Beard University". The video team is on location filming, and it’s exciting to see how the editorial team’s creative vision is coming to life. The concept was based on the analytics from our websites, telling us that Met Set men really wanted to know if beards were still in fashion. The cut I’m sent is original, witty and brilliantly produced – it is fantastic to see our brands cutting through in video as they do in print.   


Any good Friday for me starts with a breakfast meeting and this morning is with my managing director Owen Wyatt and the wonderful Puig team to hear about their plans for Christmas and the upcoming 2018 launches. We talk about the fragrance industry, influencers versus media brands and how we collectively inspire people to gift fragrance. I find this type of breakfast meeting incredibly useful to understand the vast objectives of our clients long-term, and clarity on what really matters.

In the afternoon, I attend the digital townhall which is a monthly, informal but effective update on Shortlist Media’s digital roadmap. We are currently migrating the web platform and this is a chance to hear from the back-end and front-end developers, who are delivering the technology to support the content we are famous for.

I am impressed with the standard and commitment of the digital department who are absolutely focused on the best user experience for our consumers. Emerald Street and Mr Hyde have significant development in the pipeline which no doubt will allow us to scale this business further.

The final hours of my week are finished with a flurry of emails, which this week centre around the 10th birthday and (fingers crossed) a final sign-off on the marketing campaign. After exactly a year in the job today, I reflect on how lucky I am to have been given the reigns of this diverse and exciting business. I work with great brands and brilliant people – bring on the next 10 years! 


Age: I grew up listening to The Smiths 
Favourite media: I have an 11-year-old so I know all the songs on Capital Radio 
My biggest inspiration: My family 
Dream job: Running an antique shop 
Not a lot of people know this about me: I'm pretty good at witchcraft 

Join us at Digital Media Strategies, the event that shows you exactly how to navigate the future of digital publishing. Click here to see the agenda and speaker line-up

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