As technological innovation, the need for greater representation and the developing role of news brands in a digital age remain top priorities, publishers across the industry are deepening engagement with the next generation of news brand and advertising leaders
News brands’ initiatives to encourage a career in media took centre stage over the summer, with immersion schemes taking place across the industry to introduce interested young people without connections to the world of commercial media.
Mail Metro Media, Brixton Finishing School and NXT Gen Nation
In August, Mail Metro Media invited a group of ‘future media stars’ to its West London offices to introduce them to the business, news brands more broadly and how they can help kickstart their careers.
The invitees came from Brixton Finishing School, a programme helping ‘diverse and socially mobile students break down barriers’ to land jobs in the media, creative and tech industries. During the day, top talent at Mail Metro Media headed sessions discussing collaboration, innovation, data, culture and more. The invitees also took part in a challenge to pitch a brand partnership to a chosen diverse community, with the winning group winning a £50 Asos voucher.
They also learnt about MMM’s NXT Gen Nation internship, which offers a fully paid six-month position, with three months in rotation and three months specialising in a path of interns’ choice. The scheme offers exposure to insights, ad operations, sales, partnerships and more, with Mail Metro Media offering two full-time roles in its London office post-internship.
Mail Metro Media chief brand strategy officer, Ryan Uhl, commented on the day, saying: “It’s that time of year when we host an amazing cohort of Brixton Finishing School students in Mail Metro Media offices! The questions, engagement and enthusiasm were infectious, making for a fantastic afternoon. I think this year’s cohort may be the best yet and we can’t wait to see who might want to apply for our NXT Gen Nation scheme over the coming weeks.”
Reach’s Changemakers Media Challenge scheme
Reach also engaged with young people over the summer through its Changemakers Media Challenge scheme.
The programme aims to introduce teens from disadvantaged backgrounds to a career in media. Over six weeks, the students worked to create a multimedia campaign that could help improve society for younger generations. The students received mentoring from Reach journalists, who helped them produce written pieces as well as video and social content, and then came into Reach’s London offices to pitch their campaigns.
Particularly interested in integrating social media platforms into their ideas, the students pitched news campaigns covering a range of subjects, including sustainable fashion, blood donation, mental health awareness and personal finance skills in the National Curriculum.
In an article for The Media Leader about what the media can learn from Gen Z, Gemma Aldridge, editor of the Sunday Mirror and the Sunday People, commented: “Schemes like Changemakers will hopefully cultivate a new talent stream from a generation who can work with the experience of our existing newsrooms to give them a new experience on the ways we can deliver content.”
The Sun ‘Advocates Programme’
However, immersion schemes are not just reserved for those interested in entering the media industry. The Sun’s ‘Advocates Programme’, first launched in October 2022, extends the immersion to media planners with 3-5 years’ experience but little prior knowledge of news brands. The initiative aims to change attitudes towards the publisher among influential young agency talent through a year-long deep-dive exploration of The Sun brand.
Challenging assumptions through innovative, in-person monthly meetings, the 2022/23 cohort of young planners attended sessions where they could meet the journalists (and write headlines with them), take tours of The Sun’s newsroom and printworks, as well as exclusive opportunities such as attending the news brand’s ‘Who Cares Wins’ health awards and cover photoshoots for Fabulous magazine.
They also met a mix of Sun readers, from lawyers to train drivers and stay at home parents, through an unscripted speed dating session to get to know some of the brand’s biggest ambassadors.
The latest 2023/24 cohort began in September, with 36 communications planners (including 6 from Manchester and Leeds) nominated by senior personnel at their agencies to take part.
In a piece explaining the initiative for The Map, The Sun’s agency development partner Katie Territt commented: “Such a scheme is an exciting opportunity to engage in a brand-new programme built around the importance of advocacy and the role it plays in making those all-important media decisions.”