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Meet the head of marketing and communications

Tellyo's Stuart Russell reveals how he went from professional musician to marketing supremo, and why he feels the media tech's vendor landscape has never been cut-throat

Stuart Russell, head of marketing and communications, Tellyo
Talk us through an average day in your role

My current company is a start-up so my role is very varied – it spans the full marketing mix – and there’s always lots to do. Currently, I’m in the middle of a project to revamp our web site, as well as working to improve our search engine rankings. I’m also planning our attendance at a few trade shows and events over the next quarter, writing a number of customer success stories and creating content for some outbound marketing campaigns. Marketing has changed a great deal over the last decade – it really is a blend of science and art now – so you need to be very data-driven while having a good eye for design and being able to write creative copy. I’m also hoping to employ someone soon to help me with the web and digital side of marketing so I can focus on our content strategy a little more!

How did you get started in the media industry?

The honest answer is that I fell into it, mostly by accident. I was a professional musician in a former life and then worked with companies making professional audio gear for recording studios and mastering suites. From there, I went into high-end consumer audio and then answered an online job advert to work in the broadcast industry with The Vitec Group. That was about 13 years ago and my current role is my third in this industry. I struggle to imagine working anywhere else now…  

What training did you have before entering the industry?

My first degree is actually a BA in Business Management, and I then took a post-graduate qualification in Marketing with the Chartered Institute of Marketing. In terms of the technical side of the industry, all of my knowledge has been gained on the job with my employers. Having a healthy interest in video and audio has obviously helped, but I’ve been very lucky to work with some incredibly talented (and patient!) people who have helped me expand my technical knowledge along the journey.      

Why do you enjoy working in the industry?

Someone I met years ago referred to the broadcast and media industry as being ‘sticky’ and after a dozen or so years I completely understand what this means – it’s a genuinely fun industry with a very strong social side to it, and people do tend to stay in the business once they get a taste of it. The ongoing content boom means that we’re usually working with very creative customers who are always challenging us to meet their needs more effectively. Those relationships can also be great fun, and I really enjoy that sense of partnership and working to solve shared problems. On a similar note, there’s healthy competition for business, of course, but I never feel like the vendor landscape is cut-throat or dog-eat-dog. It always feels like there is enough room for everyone and I like that sense of competitive camaraderie. When all is said and done, we’re not curing cancer so I think it’s good to have a healthy sense of perspective about our industry and its function.  

What piece of advice would you offer someone looking to explore a role similar to yours?

Many marketers in this industry come from a product management or technical background rather than a classical marketing background. That’s not a criticism, but it has heavily influenced the way we talk about what we do, and the industry has perhaps been a little slow to catch up with changing trends in content creation and the changing demographics of the creators. The era of ‘by engineers, for engineers’ is definitely coming to a close, so I’d advise anyone interested in a career in marketing to get the right academic foundations through study. Technical and product knowledge can be learned, as can customer personas and industry-specific routes to market. The principles underpinning good marketing strategy are the same regardless of industry, however, and knowledge of these will be invaluable as the industry changes and we see our customers, their working practices and their needs changing and becoming more diverse.