My Media Week: Emma Harris

Emma Harris: the programme director at Mobo
Emma Harris: the programme director at Mobo

Emma Harris, the programme director at Mobo, explains why the creative industry needs to be leading the diversity agenda.


I do my best to work from home on a Monday, which is one of the major perks of being a consultant! I’m always up early thanks to my chirpy three-year-old, and the first part of the morning is spent herding her and her sleepy brother and sister (14 and 12) into uniforms and off to school.

I then do a 30-minute intensive work out at the studio over the road or a quick run round Highgate Woods, which we are fortunate to live a stone’s throw from.

Back at my desk and showered by 9.30am, the day is then spent editing press releases, on the phone with the Mobo team and dipping in and out of conference calls with ITV (our main media partner), W Communications (our PR agency), Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO (our creative agency) and a variety of Mobo Season partners.

We worked with these partners throughout the Mobo ‘Rise with Us’ Season, an expansion of the Mobo brand outside of music. It’s all about joining hands with the leaders across the creative industries to promote exceptional talent from diverse backgrounds to the forefront of British culture and beyond, so we’re coming together on the issue of diversity.  


No school run for me today as I’m out of the door early to get into town for a status meeting that I run every week. It’s the only time we get everyone together; our formidable leader, Kanya King (founder and chief executive of Mobo), our digital and marketing team, PR and talent management. We usually meet either at Somerset House or the ME Hotel over the road, which has become my "other office" in the last few months… not too shabby!

Following this I have a face-to-face with W to plan the forthcoming event PR, then pop over to Arena who are doing a brilliant job getting us as much media space as they can beg borrow or steal, nip over to Lida to talk about their forthcoming Fellowship, get back to Covent Garden for a catch up with a pro-bono client, Wac Arts and then meet my husband at The Library on St Martin’s Lane for drinks.


Today is a day that I won’t forget in a hurry. We launched the Mobo Awards nominations at Ronnie Scotts which meant me spending the morning surrounded by incredibly cool, famous hiphop, rap and grime artists; none of whom I recognised!

My personal objective for the day was to get as many of the talent to a studio in the next street to get them to be part of our Manifesto film – a brilliant creation by AMV BDDO who had amazingly managed to get the world renowned photographer Nadav Kander to direct.

So the morning was spent getting the Mobo team to point out who the talent was, make friends with them and their managers/agents and try and get them to give us 30 minutes of their time. We did pretty well with nine different people taking part and the rest of the day was spent in the studio watching the master in action whilst writing an article for The Independent and signing off artwork. It was a fantastic day and the film is going to look awesome.


This morning I’m taking a little break from Mobo and after another 30 minutes of torture (or work out) I am travelling down to Surrey to present to the Client Service group for the IPA.

My presentation is mainly about how to build great client-agency relationships and is littered with NLP training and stand up comedy. I think it went down ok!

On my way back up to London I get some great news. Thanks to Andrew McGuinness and the team at Freuds who have been incredibly generous with their time, advice and introductions throughout, we have secured some distressed stock media space from Outdoor Plus. Our marketing campaign that we’re running on a shoe string is starting to look pretty sizable with Clear Channel, The Evening Standard, Metro and Exterion all supporting us.


I try my very best to ring-fence Friday afternoons so I can go to ballet with the little one (nothing cuter than three-year-olds in tutus dancing to Let it Go) although in reality make about one in three.

Today I have meetings all over London and conf calls galore as I attempt to finalise our fellowship programme. The idea behind this is we secure opportunities ring-fenced for diverse talent who wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity.

The day goes well and by the end we have finalised the roles within Saatchi & Saatchi, Lida, AMV BDDO, OMD, Arena, ITV, London College of Fashion, The Tate, Warehouse and across the London Theatre Consortium. It’s been quite amazing and very heart-warming how responsive pretty much everyone who I have approached has been.

Everyone seems to have diversity high up on the agenda – the creative industry should be leading the way really as we need to be in touch with all consumers and, with London now 40 per cent non-white, our industry should reflect this.

Although we’ve only created 27 roles so far, we see this as a great first step and look forward to the positive changes and results they will bring about.

And finally… it’s Takeaway Friday and a massive glass of red to look forward to.

The Lowdown

Age: 43

Favourite Media: Radio (from Kiss to Radio 4) and cinema

My biggest inspiration: Cilla Snowball from AMV BDDO– she’s managed to juggle being an incredible mum, a brilliant group chairman and a fantastic leader whilst being humble, thoughtful, patient and fun. She’s just amazing.

Dream Job: Running my own consultancy… oh would you look at that!

Not a lot of people know this about me: I can do the splits.


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