My Media Week: Julia Hutchison, Association of Publishing Agencies

Running an industry trade body in the busiest week of the year creates a few 'frazzled' moments for APA chief operating officer Julia Hutchison

Julia Hutchison, chief operating officer, Association of Publishing Agencies
Julia Hutchison, chief operating officer, Association of Publishing Agencies


Get up at 6.30am and walk my dog Seamus on Primrose Hill before work. The week ahead is the busiest week of the year, as we have our inaugural APA International Content Summit and the APA Awards, so I run through everything I have to do over the next five days in my head.

When I get to work I talk to our research partner HPI about providing statistics for the summit, and I sign off the Book of the Night for the awards and the programme for the conference. Because we are the trade body for branded content, this has to be absolutely word perfect. Over lunch, I chat to Simon Broadhurst, chief executive of personalised online content company Leiki, which is an exhibitor at the summit.

However, the awards are only part of what the APA does, so between finalising details of the conference and the awards party, our team of five has to get on with the day job. At the moment we are working with a financial services client, which is planning to launch a customer publishing programme next year. We advise them on their brief and their budget, and if they want to go ahead the next step will be to match-make them with suitable publishing agencies. I am still processing final ticket bookings and taking menu requests until late in the day, but I finally leave at 8pm.


Sort the final details for the following day’s conference. I liaise with all the speakers about their presentations and send the video to our AV partner. We have a good mix of speakers talking about print, online and mobile, including Paul Roach, the technical lead for seo at; Luke Johnson, the former chair of Channel 4 and now chairman of Risk Capital Partners; and James Pimentel-Pinto, the chief of executive of Agency Mobile who developed the top three mobile apps in the UK.

In the afternoon I start to get a bit frazzled as I meet the social media team, who are organising live tweeting from the conference on a plasma screen, and put the final touches to the delegates’ gift bags. We have lots of good content to give them, such as a synopsis of the new book by iCrossing’s Anthony Mayfield called You and Your Online Shadow and copies of the Times’ science magazine Eureka. We then load everything for the conference into a huge van - the exhibition stands etc - before realising there is nothing more we can do and hoping for the best.


Up at 4.30am because I have to get to our venue Old Billingsgate and help the events team build the exhibitions and conferences space before 8am when the speakers arrive. It feels a lot like Challenge Anneka but without the lycra. We open the doors at 8.20am sharp to our 400 delegates from 17 countries, but some speakers are running late because of the student riots, including our chair Daisy McAndrew, the economics editor for ITV News.

However, Daisy makes it in the nick of time and Rory Sutherland, vice-president of Ogilvy, kicks off proceedings at 9.15am with a speech that sets the tone for an inspirational day. Highlights are Antony Mayfield talking about social media; William Owen from Made by Many on the new face of advertising; David Seers, director of content at the COI on the impact of the budget cuts; and Robert Tansey from BSkyB on how Sky is using content in new ways. The audience looks engaged and everyone is tweeting interesting responses, so I breathe a sigh of relief.

Then at 4.45pm we have two hours to turn the conference space into a venue for a cocktail bar and sit-down dinner for 800. The doors open at 8pm and there is a great atmosphere at the party, helped by comedian Alun Cochran, who is side-splitting and gets the balance right. The awards presentation starts at 10pm and we manage to get through 26 categories in 55 minutes - August Media go mad when they win the Grand Prix. Take a glass of champagne and hit the dancefloor with the team, and at the end of the evening we have to herd some slightly inebriated guests into taxis.


The day after the night before we hold the International Customer Publishing Forum for our international members - a networking event and lunch at Kettners in Soho chaired by Ellen Brush from Axon. Everyone is on good form, despite the late night, and we exchange best practice what on different countries are doing in customer publishing: Holland, France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Slovakia, to name but a few. Finish at 4pm and the APA team have a well-deserved glass of champagne and a gossip about the party last night.


Debrief the team about the conference and the awards, then I write to thank our sponsors and answer queries about lost clothing. We have a lot of contact with the press today, and we also send out the APA’s weekly branded content newsletter to all our members. I then have a final catch-up with the financial services client to check he is happy with the first-stage chemistry meetings with agencies, before answering requests for research and tweeting about the conference. After a late lunch with team APA I head home for an early night - via a quick stop-off with the dog to meet friends in the pub in Primrose Hill - and sleep for twelve hours.

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