News Corp’s Lou Barrett at Come Together: Specialist sales hires and deep-fried Easter eggs

• ‘You’ve got to have a bit of theatre and make it fun for people’

After the Come Together 2018 Melbourne event, News Corp’s managing director of national sales Lou Barrett told Mediaweek her clients will have a lot of information to absorb after the announcement of 16 different initiatives all offering advertising opportunities.

“There is a lot to take in. By doing it as we have, allowing people to make their way through different presentations showing off the different executions, it allows them to take notes and to get in depth with the brands.”

There was even a bit of theatre in one of the presentations, with three actresses portraying customers of verticals within “You’ve got to have a bit of theatre and make it fun for people. In the past when we have run Come Together we have run one big long execution with a few key initiatives.

“Some people have been asking me in the marketplace about all our assets, telling me they couldn’t keep up with what we have to offer. That is why we have chosen this format for Come Together to allow people to better understand all our brands.”

One of the key offerings for News continues to be sport, which will be supercharged shortly as News Corp’s Foxtel takes control of all TV and digital rights for cricket. Barrett said there is scope to lift the return from the News Corp sports assets.

“There are 12m people a month engaging with our assets at News Corp. The significant investment in cricket across the company will mean lots more cricket content. Whether an advertiser is trying to amplify their sporting code sponsorship or they just want to be involved with the fans, we are the place to go. People buy our newspapers for sport and we cover all sports.”

News launched its Prestige Network in 2017 and recently expanded its offering with increased editorial firepower and welcomed Andrew Cook to the Prestige Network and The Australian as general manager of advertising. “This is very bespoke and allows you to exactly tailor to a client’s needs. We are reaching nine out of 10 ABs with the Prestige Network and it is where readers need to go to engage with luxury brands.”

Barrett noted that the new Vogue Australia with Kylie on the cover was only released this week and people have been grabbing it off the shelves in the newsagency simulation set up by News at one of its presentations. “The power of our prestige brands is enormous.”

One of the more impactful presentations was from Food Corp because, well, there was free food. “Some people wonder if our food assets are only the territory of our FMCG brands,” said Barrett. “No, they are not. Lots of people are using them, including automotive, which is engaging with those audiences, as are real estate and retail.” Food initiatives announced this week included delicious. Travel and Aisle Watch.

Since Barrett arrived at News Corp, she has been involved in recruiting specialists for the various categories. “We have now got a person who is an expert in retail, we have experts also in travel, wagering, automotive and finance. Not only are they working closely with our sales teams, they are also helping advise on our editorial products as they understand global best practice for those particular industries. We are also putting salespeople into the business who are multimedia skilled. It is important that our people understand how to sell multimedia assets.”

One the presentations showed how News Corp is able to jump on something taking off on social, in this case its business, which engineers and delivers timely content for Australia’s biggest brands. It used an example of a deep-fried Easter egg discussion that took off on social media and by later in the day was delivering content on behalf of Woolworths. “I live for those days,” said Barrett. “We have to have the best people on our team, which can take advantage of those opportunities. We have got that – both on editorial and sales – and they work well together.”

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