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James Garner, Head of Production, Hearst Digital Interview

James Garner is Head of Production at The National Magazine Company. Its portfolio includes websites for leading brands such as:; and

What was your first job in Media?

I started working as a marketing assistant with Gruner and Jahr (G+J) in Docklands straight out of university. I graduated with a BA (Hons) Business Administration, with a marketing major and while working at G+J I also studied to gain membership to the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) and to be accredited with their Post Graduate Diploma in Marketing (DipM).

How did you begin working online?

G+J had no web presence. During my studies I developed an interest in the emerging medium of online and transferred that knowledge to help to launch their B2B site (basically online media packs), it was a great chance to get new media knowledge and experience.

What are the main responsibilities of your current role?

Being one of the few web experts within the company, I'm often called upon to give an online (marketing) perspective. As my role is part of a small team working online at The National magazine Company, it is both varied and challenging and on a day-to-day basis activities can include:

  • Creation of HTML emails and broadcasting
  • Loading content onto the CMS systems
  • Picture editing/manipulation
  • Statistical analysis
  • Project management
  • Training
  • Sales (selling online ads)
  • Partnership building
  • Evaluation of new technologies
  • Representing the company on various committees

What skills do you need to do your job?

Logic. Communication. An eye for design. Marketing knowledge. A technical overview (I'm not a techie...I just know who to ask!) and of course computer literacy!

What are the good things about working online?

It's great to have the opportunity to get to grips with new technology first and the speed of change in the industry is very exciting. For me, being one of the few specialists in this area at my organisation gives me a real sense of purpose in terms of pushing the agenda and looking towards the future. I also love the chance I get to work across all mediums and to join them (Print, Radio, Video, TV) all online.

...and the bad?

Sometimes you come up against a lack of knowledge (fear?) and non acceptance of online from traditionalists and sometimes you find there is just too much jargon in this space! I'm also sorry to say it is easy to be ripped off (both from competitors and suppliers) and then their are the spammers and unscrupulous web organisations spoiling the industries reputation for the many... One of my main frustrations is also the slowness of legislation which I often find is unable to keep up with pace of industry change.

What advice would you give to someone trying to get into the industry?

  • Try everything...don't be scared! You can always backtrack and go down another route later
  • Don't stick to one area in your early career... get an overview of all web disciplines (sales, technical, marketing) and then look to specialise. This will enable you to be more rounded in your later roles
  • Don't annoy old media (they don't like it) and often hold the purse strings (especially if you are based in an old media company). Instead help them embrace the extension to their communications offering
  • In any online project start off small and then build bits at a time. That way you can access what works and what doesn't - without losing all your money!

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