Sarah Keith on plans for clients and agency growth at Paykel Media

Sarah Keith Managing Director Paykel Media

“Being small and independent really gives us some flexibility in terms of what we can do for clients.”

In 2019 one of Australia’s biggest independent media agencies Paykel Media was taken over by Active International. A year after the transaction agency founder Tony Paykel stepped down from his role as managing director. The search for a replacement has finally ended with last week’s announcement that Sarah Keith has taken on the role.

See also: Tony Paykel to continue running media agency after sale to Active Int

Paykel is a former agency executive at Total Media in Melbourne and later at McCann Erickson in Sydney before he launched his own agency in 1999.

After a career working with media giants like Network 10, Fairfax Media, Fox Sports, Austereo, SBS and UK’s Channel 4, Sarah Keith has made the move to a boutique agency business. Although it’s not a multinational media group, Paykel does have global ties via parent company Active International.

Tony Paykel and Active’s Cameron Swan

Tony Paykel and Active’s Cameron Swan

Keith told Mediaweek that the appeal of the new role was working for a private company. “The other thing that attracts me is that it is a long-standing business, over more than 20 years, and it has established relationships across the industry with media groups. Being small and independent really gives us some flexibility in terms of what we can do for clients.”

Keith hasn’t previously worked with any of the team at Paykel, but notes they are well credentialed. “Tony Paykel and Caroline Doran [Paykel Media COO] have worked together for the past 11 years and it’s great to work alongside people who perform so well together as does the whole Paykel team.”

Sarah Keith and Caroline Doran

Sarah Keith and Caroline Doran

Keith said she will be hands on in the new role as Paykel’s Australian clients look toward the end of a challenging year for some, and also as the media business looks to build.

Regarding 2020, Keith said: “We have been impacted similarly to many others. Everybody has faced challenges and it would be fair to say we are performing no better and no worse than the industry. Because some of our clients are small to medium sized businesses there have been direct decisions about whether to spend on this or that campaign when it comes to marketing. For bigger companies there can be a contraction of spend across the board.” The client list at Paykel is all new to Keith with no cross overs from past roles.

See also: Sarah Keith returns: MD at indie agency now part of global network

Paykel and Active International work as two separate companies. “With our Paykel Plus product we are able to look at different media opportunities through Active’s corporate trade business,” said Keith.

Paykel Plus lets clients opt into acn active barter relationship and guarantee ROI on media investments at no extra cost through the trading arm of Active.

For the future, Keith noted, “The number one thing for existing clients is looking to see how we can accelerate those businesses with new media, new media ideas and new media partnerships. We will be closely reviewing our existing clients and making sure they have everything they need going into 2021.

“The second thing is looking out for opportunities for 2021. This year hasn’t been all doom and gloom as there are some businesses that have succeeded and done well. We need to make sure Paykel Media pitches itself into the right spot. I don’t intend to make massive changes. What Paykel Media has always done well, work closely with clients with a relatively small team, will continue. We are looking at things like maybe finding a partner to grow with or looking at further strategic appointments to ensure we align closely with our clients to allow them to grow.”

Paykel Media buys its own media and one of Keith’s skills over the years has been rate negotiation with all media players. That should be good news for clients?

“I’d like to think so, yes,” responded Keith.

The important thing for Paykel clients from my experience is that range of media I have worked across. I can offer a strategic views across all media channels, review what they are currently buying with a view to opening up new opportunities.”

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