5 minutes with MacCormack Media

Kicking off a new interview series on the Skout Says blog, we’re profiling the brilliant partners and associates we work with as part of the brilliant services and specialist support we provide to our clients.

First up, we’re excited to introduce Lizzie Berwick, director and co-owner at media buying agency MacCormack Media. Our relationship with MacCormack began in early 2018, when we were appointed by the professional division of Miele (still a client today!) to deliver a range of integrated campaigns across its key markets. We worked with Lizzie and the team to support Miele with fresh content for its paid and sponsored media opportunities. Since then, we’ve gone on to work with MacCormack across a range of other clients, whether we’re using paid media to help boost awareness in a client’s desired sectors or bolstering earned media results.  

Tell us a bit about MacCormack Media and your role.

MacCormack Media is an independent media planning and buying agency based in Princes Risborough (about 40 minutes North West of London).  The agency was set up in 2003 and we specialise in B2B media but are equally as happy planning B2C campaigns. The agency was founded on the basic principle that we should be experts in what we do, therefore we focus purely on media planning and buying, and don’t get involved in creative or PR (we leave those to equally expert companies, like Skout!)

Our experience spans many sectors from agriculture, charities, engineering, animal health, software solutions, manufacturing and many more. We work globally and at the moment we have campaigns live in 22 different countries.

I started at MacCormack Media in 2013 having previously worked in London in video and TV post-production. I had no previous media planning experience and started from the very bottom, processing orders and helping the planners research the media. Over the past nine years I have progressed from a trainee media planner/buyer to media director, and in November last year I was lucky enough to be involved in a management buyout, so I am now also co-owner of the business. In all honesty, it’s been a fairly unexpected journey. If you’d told me nine years ago that I’d eventually own a share of the business I would’ve laughed in your face and probably run a mile, but I feel very privileged to have found something that I genuinely enjoy doing.

How have you noticed the media landscape changing over the past couple of years and how does this affect what you do?

Initially, during the first few months of COVID we saw a big swing towards digital, with many of the websites we work with directly recording record peaks in traffic. From about June 2020 things started to settle down, but the digital trend continued.  

With face-to-face events being cancelled, webinars and podcasts became the new buzzwords. To start with engagement was really high, but I think there has been a bit of screen fatigue, and we saw the quality of attendees wasn’t as high as it had been with face-to-face events. Physical events are definitely becoming more popular again now, as I think we’re all a bit desperate to get back out into the real world and see actual real people!

B2B print media did initially take a bit of a knock, as people began working from home and the magazines were sent to their places of work. A number of clients raised concerns about this, but having spoken to all of the publishers we work with, they confirmed that as soon as it became clear that we were in the pandemic for the long term, subscribers were, on the whole, transferring subscriptions to their home addresses.

One of the big winners over the past few years is radio, particularly commercial radio, which has seen a boom in listeners. It will be interesting to see if this trend continues.

As an agency, we’ve had to become more reactive. We’re now seeing a move to book campaigns on a quarterly basis, as this gives clients a bit more control and security.

Looking forward, I think one of the major challenges the B2B sector, in particular, will face is the rising cost of printing. One media owner has been told by their printer that their costs have risen by 70%! So watch this space on what this means for 2023 rates.

How do you think media buying can work most effectively in tandem with PR?

With an aligned strategy media buying and PR can work together in a complimentary way to maximise the returns for the client.  

We’ve worked with Skout on a number of campaigns over the past four and half years, and we have a great working relationship. We have a similar approach to our planning, which means that we work cohesively to maximise coverage, without cannibalising each other’s efforts. For example, if we know that if you are likely to place PR in a particular feature, we will work with the media owner to ensure that the advertising is not placed next to the PR, as this always looks a little contrived.  It’s often better to place the advert upfront in the magazine, and the PR piece within the key feature, as this means the client gets two bites of the cherry in that issue.

For a business that’s considering investing in media buying as part of their marketing/advertising strategy, what would your advice be?

Absolutely do it! I mean, of course I’d say that I am quite biased on this one 😊

Seriously though, a good media planner will save a marketing manager so much time. We see ourselves as an extension of the marketing team and will take care of the media campaign from start to finish. This gives the client peace of mind and allows them to focus on other, more important aspects of their jobs.

Using a media planning and buying agency will more than likely save them money too, as we are experienced negotiators and our greater buying power means we tend to get the best rates. For a business considering a media buying strategy, I’d recommend having that initial chat with an agency to see how they can help meet objectives.

To learn more about MacCormack Media, and how Lizzie and the team can help you meet your marketing and wider business objectives, click here.  

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