The Media Week Awards changed my life

Newsworks' insight director Denise Turner thanks the iconic event for giving her courage, pushing her to take risks and introducing her to her husband, Craig. 

My first introduction to the Media Week Awards came in October 1991.

A few months previously I started as a media research assistant in the media department at BBH. This was an amazing place to start my career, so many talented people to learn from; so much amazing creativity and campaigns that truly made a difference.

I can still vividly remember, just three weeks after I joined, the moment John McCarthy, held hostage in Beirut for over five years, was freed, and all the windows along Great Pulteney Street were filled with yellow ribbons. BBH were an integral part of the Friends of John McCarthy campaign. I was hooked, this was a business that made a difference.

And then I was invited to the Media Week Awards ceremony. BBH took all of the media department, so just a few months into my career, I found myself sitting next to John Bartle in the wonderful great room of the Grosvenor House Hotel in Park Lane. I will admit to being overwhelmed - I was in the company of some amazingly clever people - Richard Eyre, Phillipa Brown, Iain Jacob, to name just a few. But I was also inspired - perhaps one day I could win an award for some great work I'd done.

Just a few years later, in 1997, now working for Leo Burnett, I won my first Media Week Award for what was then a very innovative project, Kidscope, researching kids media habits via that new-fangled thing called the internet.

I’ve since been lucky enough to win a few more Media Week Awards for insight and measurement solutions that make a difference to clients' businesses while at Havas Media, and latterly in my role at Newsworks, for projects that change perceptions of newsbrands.

But that first award holds a special place in my heart - not just because it was the first, but because it changed my life forever.

My bosses at Leo Burnett were so delighted that they gave me a spot bonus. I’d just turned 30 and had decided that I needed to be more adventurous, to take more risks and not be forever wondering 'what if'.

So rather than do the sensible thing and pay off my overdraft, I chose to do something new, to challenge myself. I signed up to a group skiing holiday, and despite the initial fear at the top of the nursery slope, I loved it. I learned a valuable lesson too - don't let nerves or fear hold you back. When faced with something that scares me, my mantra since then has been to 'do it afraid'.

I loved the holiday so much that I signed up for another one the next year. And it was on that holiday that I met the man I would marry just a couple of years later.

So I have the Media Week Awards to thank for giving me the courage to try new things, to feel the fear and do it anyway, something that has stood me in good stead in my career since. And last but definitely not least, winning my first ever Media Week Award led me to my wonderful husband.

by Denise Turner 12/10/18

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