My Media Week: Sean King

This week Sean King, chief executive of publisher Seven, is driven mad by his teenage daughters' taste in music, works his way through the new battleground of content and takes some old school time out at L'Escargot.

Sean King: chief executive of Seven
Sean King: chief executive of Seven


I love my job. No two days are the same. As the business has made the transition from a magazine publisher into a multi-platform content agency, I have built a hugely experienced and talented senior management team. This allows me to focus on seeking ways to grow the business at undoubtedly the most exciting time in the 25 years I have been working in the media.

I have two teenage daughters, so in the morning it's usually Kiss FM or Capital (I don’t know how much more Rihanna I can take).

I still love newspapers and I start the day reading the FT and The Guardian (loving the new 'Three Little Pigs' ad) over breakfast. Our company is based in Clerkenwell, which I reckon is the best area to work in London.

On my way to work, I listen to the 'Today' programme, followed by 'Start the Week' if I've been good and gone to the gym. I am determined to get fit and lose weight this year (so far I've dropped eight kilos, so it's working).

Mondays tend to be spent in the office planning the week ahead and meeting the executive board (FD, MD, content director, etc) to discuss what's happening in the day-to-day running of Seven. Working on achieving our long-term goal is paramount – to be the leading content marketing agency in the UK.  


In early to have a chat with a major new (potential) client who wants Seven to help figure out how content can drive engagement and ROI for the FTSE 100 company he works for.

What is exciting right now is that most, if not all, clients recognise that, "owned media" is an increasingly important part of the marketing mix. Our challenge is to help them realise that the company has the scale and talent to create, manage and monetise content across all channels – print (that's right, print is still very much alive), web, email, mobile, social media and video.

Content is the new battleground, with all agencies seeming to claim ownership. It's going to be fascinating to see how it plays out over the next three years.

After the call, it's a 9am meeting with Andrew Miller, chief executive of Guardian Media Group, Seven's largest investor.

It really helps having shareholders who understand the business, but are far enough away to be able to provide an objective view of what we are doing.

Then it's a weekly session with the business development director [Will Watt] to see where we are with pitches and prospecting.

We have been working hard on getting the proposition and language right. Content marketing is a relatively new agency discipline, so it's critical we hit the spot.

An important part of my job is to network with other agencies, so it's off to lunch at The Club at The Ivy with Andrew McGuinness (the 'M' of BMB) to talk about how the company is perfectly placed to be a content partner to support their above-the-line campaigns.


After my early morning training session, it's off to meet the new executive director (marketing) at one of our major clients – the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants.

As a global organisation, there is an enormous appetite for high-quality content in print, online and live events, so they are a brilliant client to work with.

I have also recently joined the British Interactive Marketing Association, so its off to L'Escargot (I haven't been for about 15 years) for one of their chief executive dinners, hosted by Justin Cooke, who runs an agency called Fortune Cookie (great name, by the way).

It was fascinating hearing from CEOs of other digital agencies. While we all have different businesses and business models, we all face the same challenges – recruiting and retaining talent, managing change, and maintaining margins while investing in the future.


Spent the morning with the senior team working on our Sainsbury's account. Sainsbury's is a fantastic client for us. They really understand the value and importance of content to connect with their 19 million customers.

As well as Sainsbury's Magazine we also produce Everyday Easy, a million-circulation, in-store magazine, Little ones, a cross-platform club for mums, plus cookbooks, recipe cards and videos.

After work we host a "summer's on its way" drinks reception for our chefs and contributors to Sainsbury's Magazine, including the likes of Aggie MacKenzie, Antonio Carluccio, Yotam Ottolenghi and Sarah Beeny, to name but a few.


A morning of meetings with Seven's strategy director about a major piece of research we are working on to prove the value of content to deliver an ROI. Most clients get the whole content agenda, but the real opportunity is in proving how effective it is so they can invest more.

I finish off the day looking at the latest augmented reality platforms, Blippar and Aurasma, that we are going to be building into our plans – very exciting stuff.

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