“It’s amazing working with the film clients. You’ll do a huge red carpet event, you’ll deliver it online, you’ll deliver great numbers, you’ll tie it in with social, you’ll push it out on blogs and YouTube – and they’re still really interested in ‘do you think we can get the front cover of the paper tomorrow?’”
IP&TV News is in one the glass meeting rooms at the Daily Telegraph’s London Victoria offices, talking to Denise Parkinson, Entertainment Director at Telegraph Media Group and TV Connect keynote.
It is surely a sign of the times that Parkinson, a Canadian with over twenty years’ experience in film and film marketing, finds herself at the home of one of the world’s most recognisable broadsheets. But of course (despite the perennial appeal of the Front Cover) nowadays the Telegraph is no more a newspaper than a smartphone is a phone.
“What the Telegraph wanted to do is take its film category coverage to the next level,” she explains. “They wanted to become, and are becoming, a standalone movie destination, where we’re giving insight into film makers, pre-production, post-production, exclusive content, money-can’t-buy opportunities – making it the complete destination for the consumer to come to film, but also very much something that would appeal to people in the industry.”
During her tenure, Parkinson has doubled the advertising and promotional revenue brought in from the film companies, and has developed numerous partnerships on individual titles, including Fury, The Monuments Men, and Paddington Bear.“We’ve been the first to get the trailers and break those globally, the first to get exclusive images and break those, the first to live stream the red carpet and global live streams….”
It is one aspect of a deeper, ongoing revolution at the newspapers. “The whole face of news delivery has completely changed everywhere for everybody, so nobody in the modern world kind of says anymore, ‘I’m a Guardian reader,’ ‘I’m a Mail reader,’ ‘I’m a Telegraph reader.’ They are now content consumers. And it’s a global audience.”
Following our chat, Parkinson takes us on a tour of Telegraph towers. One room overlooks the newsroom, still one of the classic images of British journalism, with what looks like hundreds of journalists studiously bent above their keyboards.
Even here, though, there are signs of change. Parkinson gestures to a large screen overhanging the hall, covered in shifting graphs and digits. “We use data in everything that we do. So right now we know how many eyeballs we have at any one time on a story, what’s trending up, what’s starting to trend down. And through the analytics we know what audiences are responding to, what they’re not responding to, and where they’re coming from.”
We descend into the news room, which turns out to be flanked with editing suites and studios. As we pass between the desks, Parkinson talks TV Connect. “One of the things I’ll talk about is content discovery. When you have film content – such as a film like Wild with Reese Witherspoon –you’re trying to pull people in from different verticals. It’s not on their mind that they’re going to see that movie this weekend, but they might be looking for a holiday, because it’s January and the weather’s cold: so we’ve got articles on the trek Reese Witherspoon does in that movie… then you click through and you see that trailer.”
Seeming to epitomise this very contemporary tendency (where the line between what constitutes a bona fide exclusive and a piece of highly effective product placement is increasingly difficult to discern), is the front cover of the following morning’s Saturday magazine. Parkinson whisks one from the top of a stack and passes to me.
There sits Shaun the Sheep (from the eponymous movie), outside a café, hooves casually crossed, reading a copy of the Daily Telegraph, on the front cover of which is – Shaun the Sheep (see illustration). “This is one of our partnerships that we’re working on right now. As I said, even though everything’s digitally led, you bring something like that to them, and they freak out. That USP of it being the front cover: it’s not going away any time soon.”