My Media Week: Stevie Spring

The new chair of the PPA, Stevie Spring, discusses her role as chief executive of Future, her Sky-poor friends and her ambition to get more women in the boardroom.

Stevie Spring: talks readers through her media week
Stevie Spring: talks readers through her media week


I wake to my daily alarm call, Radio 4's 'Today' show, then flick through The Times while consuming my daily vitamins. It's an early start to get to the Lloyd's Bank headquarters, where I'm speaking at the First Women Awards launch. Essentially, it's a follow up to the Davies Report about how to get more women on board. I bang my drum, admitting that I now see quotas as a necessary evil if we're going to achieve transformational change in board diversity. A flurry of tweets and emails ensues.

Back at our Marylebone offices, I run through the weekly reports with my PA, and lifesaver, Katie.

I enjoy a very jolly lunch with the Financial Times at the Wolseley. What was planned as a post-AGM catch-up evolves into a dissection of the big topics on the media agenda – Sky, News Corp, and paywalls.

Heading back to the office for an overview of the coming week, I fit in a chat with Kelvin MacKenzie about his son's short-form video company, My Video Rights.

Unusually, I'm home in time to hit the gym and rush back to watch Sky's Ross Kemp programme on Mexico. A mutual friend of mine and Amanda Walsh is out there and Amanda insists I watch it, as she's without Sky.


Today is International Women's Day – my main reason for speaking at yesterday's awards. I'm into work early to play catch up. With my residents' permit I can park my Fiat 500 outside both my home and office, making life much easier.

I have an update with the boys from TechRadar, one of our most successful organic growth stories. As group chief executive of Future, I also describe myself as head of digital – not only because 30%-plus of our commercial revenue currently comes from digital, but because it's the fastest growing arm of the business.

Coincidentally with it being International Women's Day, my next meeting is with our new senior non-executive director on the PLC board, who happens to be female. We chat about life, the universe and everything.

Next up it's good news, with final sign-off on a new UK distribution contract.

Enjoy a very interesting lunch at Shepherd's with the shadow MPs for culture, Gloria de Piero and Ivan Lewis. Coincidentally, Gloria's partner is a journalist at the Observer and Guardian and interviewed me not long ago. We discuss copyright, piracy and regulation. There's nothing wrong with the copyright laws, but they're unenforceable because the cost of enforcement is prohibitive. We also go through ATVOD's demand for video fees - the regulations were never meant to apply to magazines or short-form video that doesn’t compete with linear TV. It's all got mixed up.

That afternoon, I meet the PPA and agree to be their next chairman – I'm honoured. I follow that with some career counselling for my niece, who's starting out in advertising. It's obviously in the genes.

Dash home to change for the 30 Club Dinner at Claridges, where Rebekah Brooks (formerly Wade) has pulled out of her speech to be replaced by James Harding, editor of The Times. He's great, apart from not answering my question very well.


Another horrendously early start, back at Portcullis House (the House of Commons overflow) to meet Nadhim Zahawi, ex-YouGov founder and Tory MP for Stratford. We talk regulation, taxation and my current cause celebre – copyright – as well as cuts to statutory children's services.

Update with Mark Wood, Future UK chief executive and a marvellous man who makes my life much more pleasant. We cover syndication plans for digital content, foreign language websites and licensing, and I kindly let him off our next New York trip in lieu of his birthday.

A last minute lunch opportunity surfaces with Julie France, managing director of JCDecaux Airport. We worked together at Clear Channel, and talk all things outdoor for old time's sake.

Discussing movies later with Aubrey Day, editor-in-chief of our film portfolio, I feel terribly embarrassed that I haven’t seen Black Swan yet, and make a mental note to see it this weekend.

The afternoon is spent on a very, very long and exciting video conference to San Francisco running through our new digital products, latest app figures and roll out of Guitar World's Lick of the Day app, which has just hit over 500,000 downloads. I catch up with head of Future US, John Marcom, former head of international at Yahoo and my Mark Wood in the States.

En-route to the Hawkpoint annual drinks do with my finance director I catch up on figures. The event's packed, although as ever, women are under represented and tend to be serving the drinks.

Back home in time for a proper flop in front of 'Waterloo Road' and 'House', which reminds me – we've just secured Hugh Laurie for one of our covers.


A morning spent interviewing and mentoring. With 43 vacancies, we're one of the few media companies currently hiring.

As part of my remit as chair at Children in Need, I meet with the Frank Buttle Trust. A really interesting but difficult morning follows – we give up £2m of our £40m budget annually for emergency welfare grants, but demand is soaring and things are tighter than ever.
Lunch is at my desk while working on our PLC website, before a debrief meeting on last week’s games developer conference in LA. Some 30% of our turnover comes from gaming products.

Rush home to tart up for the PLC Awards at the Grosvenor. It's a big city ra-ra. I catch up with my chairman and two or three of our big investors. Despite trying my best to leave at 11pm, I end up in the bar with Mark Cashmore, chief executive of Smiths News, putting the world of magazine and newspaper distribution to rights.


It's Japanese earthquake and tsunami day. I always turn to the Beeb for real time coverage of a major crises.

In meetings all morning, including one with IPA president Nicola Mendelsohn's husband.

We're flying high today, as the London ad sales team celebrate their biggest cash week of the year.

The good times continue as I book a long-awaited holiday. At last year's Nabs Big Bash I bought a trip to the Congo in a charity auction to visit the gorilla research programme with the Aspinall Foundation.

Typically, I haven't had a chance to take it yet, but am going this Easter. How fantastic!

Lunch is with Simon Calver, chief executive of Lovefilm, to talk about what to do post-Amazon. It's a free, frank and lovely discussion as ever.

After a big meeting with a global media agency, I dash back to Marylebone for the end of week reviews.

I'm out four nights a week. I accept about a quarter of my media and charity event invites because I love what I do, but Friday night is date night. I head with my partner to the Comic Relief stand-up gig at Dingwalls.

BBC presenters Mike Ramsden and Will Shindler make their comedy debuts, and it's a hilarious night. Two buckets of onion rings may not, with hindsight, be the best idea on date night.

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