My Media Week: Stuart Williams, Bauer Media

Stuart Williams, managing director of Bauer Media's music and film division, tells Media Week about his lively week in the run-up to the Q Awards

Stuart Williams, managing director, music and film division, Bauer Media
Stuart Williams, managing director, music and film division, Bauer Media


The week starts with a bizarre phone-call from the Metropolitan Police to request a list of every person who will be at the Grosvenor House Hotel for the Q Awards, which kicks off at lunchtime today [25 October]. Turns out David Cameron and German chancellor Angela Merckel will be hosting an event in the next-door room, so the place will be crawling with MI6 officers. I then meet Ric Blaxhill, programme director of Big City Radio, to talk about how we will cross-promote the Lady Gaga Smash Hits special we are publishing on 1 December across print and radio.

Next, I catch up with Nichola Browne, editor of Kerrang, and Nina Mistry, marketing manager, to plan the activity to commemorate the rock magazine’s thirtieth birthday next year. Lunch is with Chris Goodman from The Outside Organisation, which is handling the PR for the Q Awards. We discuss this month’s Take That cover and reminisce how the sight of the reformed group at the photoshoot nearly caused a car-crash on The Chelsea Embankment - it was a real Beatles moment.

Spend the afternoon in a brand editorial meeting with Paul Rees, editor of Q; Dave Young, programme director of Q’s TV channels; and James Walshe, programme director of Q Radio - we get together every month to agree playlists and discuss how we will support the Q brand across all our different platforms. Then it’s off home to London Bridge for the only early night of the week.


Start the day with an executive meeting for our London Lifestyle division, chaired by Bauer Media’s chief executive Paul Keenan and attended by my co-managing directors Geoff Campbell, Rimi Atwal and David Davies. We talk tactics and I present the plans for the Empire iPad app, which will launch by Christmas.

I then cycle down to the river and catch a boat to the O2 for a meeting with David Campbell, chief executive of music promoter AEG Live, which owns the Dome. Michelle Linaker, who runs our events, and I present David with an idea for a major film event for Empire next year.

After a quick sushi lunch, I spend the afternoon creating budgets and planning for 2011 - this is a laborious job that involves creating 15 different P&Ls across TV, online, print and events. Light relief comes after work in the form of a screening at The Hospital Club for a new British film called Monsters, directed by newcomer Gareth Edwards. It is a great movie, best summed up as post-alien invasion road-trip movie with a love story twist - luckily, I no longer write film reviews!


Get stuck into preparations for the Q Awards: approving the awards presenters, making sure host Al Murray won’t say anything libellous and sorting the seating plan, which is like a nightmare wedding due to the artistic temperaments of our VIP guests. Some feuding bands won’t sit next to each other, and those stars recovering from alcoholism refuse to have any alcohol on their table whatsoever. We always have to contend with people turning up in various states of inebriation - or worse, no-shows - but this year we are expecting Paul McCartney, Take That, Charlotte Church, Ray Davies, Bryan Ferry and Florence Welch, to name but a few.

In the afternoon, I meet our digital director Andrea Kilbourne to discuss a major relaunch for the Q website, followed by an early planning meeting for the Empire Awards next March. Despite being the biggest-selling film magazine in the world, we are still seen as plucky Limeys in Hollywood, so we discuss how we can collaborate with the major LA film studios in to crack the American market.

I then cycle to Kentish Town where I have dinner with Jo Birkett from Russian Standard Vodka, our headline sponsor for the Q Awards, before the first of our promotional gigs to promote the awards. Playing at the Kentish Town Forum tonight is Jamiroquai, who doesn’t play live that often, and it is a fantastic gig.


Meet Graham Sim, marketing director for HMV, to discuss partnering with them on a huge live gig next year to mark Q’s twenty-fifth anniversary. I then go into Starcom MediaVest to present Empire’s forthcoming iPad app, demonstrating the ability to show trailers from the movies and classic scenes. There are plenty of wow moments and the media planners seem suitably impressed.

Next I catch up with Lee Masters, managing director of exhibition organiser Clarion Events, to discuss the Empire event next year, before going through the first draft of our 2011 budgets with Fiona Senior, Chris Evans and Paddy Horton. We are joined by research manager Martin Diamond to decide which research company we will appoint to conduct the next stage of Project Phoenix, our study into the changing nature of media consumption, focusing on people’s journey through music.

There is just time to admire the exclusive cover of Empire’s Tintin issue, which goes on sale next Thursday (4 November), before heading back to Kentish Town to watch Chase & Status, which is one of the most exciting gigs I have seen it years - it is like watching an early Prodigy.


Bauer has just completed the first round of its Creative Thinking Programme, an internal initiative run by Julian Linley that aims to encourage creative thinking among all our staff. At least seven fantastic ideas have come out of the first round - from events to print launches to iPhone apps - so I meet David Davies, Geoff Campbell and Rimi Atwell to decide which ones we hope to progress.

Kerrang is the media partner for the Download festival, so Nichola Brown, Paddy Horton and I catch up with senior promoter Andy Copping, who runs the festival, for a debrief on this year’s event and to discuss how we can make next year’s festival even better. While I am on a roll with festivals, I have a conference call with Glastonbury organiser Rob Richards and Emily Eavis to discuss how we can build on Q’s 12-year involvement with Glastonbury at the 2011 event.

I have a quick baked potato lunch across the road with Malcolm Prince, a senior producer at BBC Radio 2, before a meeting with Phil Alexander, editor-in-chief of Mojo, to discuss forthcoming covers and a catch-up with David Davies to talk about how my titles will support the pilot issue of Gaz7eta, which is distributed with tomorrow’s [26 October] edition of Grazia.

I then travel back to Kentish Town for dinner with Q editor Paul Rees and the legendary music PR Barbara Charone before watching the Paolo Nutini gig and staying for a few drinks afterwards.


Have a lie-in until 10am and then make my weekly trip to the gym. Spend the day fielding calls from music PRs before meeting up with the Q editorial team to watch Mark Ronson play the last Q-backed gig of the week in the Kentish Town Forum.

End up at a house party at a billionaire shiekh’s penthouse off Trafalgar Square, where jeroboams of champagne are flowing until 5am. However, that doesn’t stop me spending Sunday doing last-minute planning for the Q Awards, more budget setting for 2011 and a trip up to the Jazz Café in Camden to watch an intimate gig by Neil Finn from Crowded House. Sit between Phil Selway from Radiohead and Johnny Marr from The Smiths, who gets up on stage to perform two songs with his friend Neil. To paraphrase Bon Jovi, I will sleep when I retire from this job.

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