Under the Radar with Tom Bureau
For our first interview of 2019, we find out how Immediate Media's CEO got his start in the industry, through an unlikely avenue, what it's like having conversations with national treasures and what he's learned along the way...
Ellie Austin scored a job at Immediate Media as a Features Writer for Radio Times after graduating from the Magazine Journalism MA course at City University. Here she talks about working in the fast-paced world of a major weekly magazine and the power of a good coffee.
What made you want to work in the magazine industry?
I wish it was romantic, but having left Nottingham University I needed money in a hurry to go travelling around the world, and selling ads seemed the most productive way of getting there. Little did I know that as a result, after 12 months travelling around Africa, India and South East Asia, I would embark on a 25 year media career that has included magazines a fair amount.
Can you chart your journey from when you started out to your current position?
I realised pretty early that I wanted to be in charge, so I worked for small entrepreneurial businesses where I could be quite senior quite fast. That led to meeting a bunch of entrepreneurs and getting involved in start-ups. I got into digital very early in 1995, and was a co-founder and CEO of VC backed Silicon Media Group, which we sold to CNET Networks. I ran CNET in Europe for 5 years and then met Richard Lenane at Exponent Private Equity and together we created Immediate Media Company, which is IMHO an awesome business.
Do you have a go-to work outfit?
Mainly jeans, I guess. And possibly a shirt.
What do you turn to when you’re on deadline – tea/coffee/snacks?
I’d like to say exercise, but mainly coffee and chocolate.
What’s the most unusual situation you’ve found yourself in because of your job?
Having a long chat with Stephen Hawkins alongside Aidan Turner and Sir Richard Attenborough at the Radio Times Covers Party. That pretty much sums up the most profitable magazine brand in the UK.
What would people be surprised to know about your job?
I don’t actually do any of the real work, but sometimes I help people by taking obstacles out of the way. At least that’s the theory.
Walk me through your typical day.
I think the reason I love my job is that there isn’t a typical day.
How has being a member of the PPA helped you/added value to your brand?
The PPA is absolutely crucial to the industry and I think its importance is growing as we all navigate to different shores and develop different business models, as well as innovate in print magazines. From being represented on the board, to forums, to events and awards, it gives a platform to discuss what is really going on, problems that need solving, and where we need to collaborate. This is a great, robust and developing industry and the PPA is the collective voice.
If you didn’t have to sleep, how would you use the remaining hours in the day?
Working on my guitar thumb independence, like Tommy Emmanuel. And learn Italian.
What is the last photo you took on your phone (at time of interview)? Why?
Love a three ball with Al and the Swan. Has an unfair advantage at the water hazards, though.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
A hot bath with Netflix.
Whose phone number do you wish you had?
My grandparents when they were my age – that would be an interesting chat.
What’s the worst piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Don’t take all your holidays.
What/where is your happy place?
Prussia Cove, South Cornwall.
What would people be surprised to know about you?
I can play the violin.
What would be in your Room 101?
The John Lewis Christmas ad.
Introvert or extrovert?
It changes over time.
Optimist or pessimist?
Optimist (although ask me again after March 29th).
Film or television? What are you binge-watching at the moment?
Television, these days. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs was fun.
Sweet or savoury?
Morning person or night owl?
Tea or coffee?
Emojis – cool or cringey? Which emoji do you use the most?
I really try not to unless to my kids.