As the Head of Marketing at the London Review of Books, Reneé left behind dreams of being a Copyeditor for the commercial sphere, and she considers her role her dream job – even seven years later. She also informs us that the small literary magazine's team is a lot more digitally-savvy than you might think...
What made you want to work in the publishing/marketing industry?
I have always loved reading, so working in publishing in one form or another was always on the cards for me.
Can you chart your journey from when you started out to your current position?
When I first graduated, I was sure I wanted to be a Copyeditor, so I applied to basically every entry-level copy job there was going without getting even one interview.
Desperate for a foot in the door, I took a telesales job at Haymarket Publishing and worked my way up until I was running the list rental department. It didn’t take me long to forget about editing altogether and realise I was much better suited to commercial roles. I loved that job and was at Haymarket for several years. The thing I liked best about that job was promoting the department – essentially, marketing it!
As a long-time admirer of the London Review of Books, when a job in marketing came up seven years ago it was truly my dream job. The thing is, seven years later, and I still love it just as much. I love what I do, I love the brand I do it for and I love the people I work with. Plus, it turns out I would be a terrible Copyeditor. I talk WAY too much and I get genuinely excited about spreadsheets. It was only a matter of time before marketing and I found one another.
Do you have a go-to work outfit?
God, I wish! As an American, I never had school uniforms growing up and I envy them so much. I would have loved a uniform. Since I can’t convince anyone else to share this opinion, I have to wear outfits like other normal people. I quite like vintage dresses and skirts. I cycle to work most days, but I have a skirt guard and go about a third of the speed of everyone else, so it doesn’t impact me too much!
What do you turn to when you’re on deadline – tea/coffee/snacks?
Coffee. I tried to give it up once and then three days in I was like, “What am I DOING? I love coffee!”
What’s the most unusual situation you’ve found yourself in because of your job?
Probably schlepping the LRB up a mountain in Sri Lanka on my holiday to try to get a great #readeverywhere photo for our summer campaign.
What would people be surprised to know about your job?
I expect people conceive of us as a small literary magazine, which is true. We drink a lot of coffee, talk about books and worry about the standard of the punctuation in our marketing copy (all of which you would expect!). We are also more digitally-savvy that you might think – we run about 30 in-house pay-per-click campaigns on AdWords and are running interesting experiments with video, Facebook, email segmentation and automation and segmented web experiences, etc. As a company, we are currently investing a lot in our web development. I would like to think we’re more advanced in those areas than people might think.
Walk me through your typical day.
After cycling into work, it’s straight to the coffee. I like to start my day looking at the previous day’s figures and then clearing out my inbox. I love how much my days fluctuate between anything from strategic meetings on our digital transformation to looking at new campaign artwork for Christmas. If I am doing anything like detailed reporting, I like to listen to show tunes (I am mad about musical theatre). I am so lucky to live in London and have all sorts of great cultural institutions at my fingertips. I go to the theatre after work pretty regularly and still feel lucky about it every time!
If you didn’t have to sleep, how would you use the remaining hours in the day?
I hope it would be reading and not bingeing Netflix, but I love to sleep – I can fall asleep mid-sentence, so I would be very sorry to lose it!
What is the last photo you took on your phone (at time of interview)? Why?
The odds of it being a photo of my cat were probably a good 80-85%. I photograph him a lot, but I mean, why wouldn’t I?! Look at him!
What’s your guilty pleasure?
Peanut butter in pretty much any form (but preferably on a spoon).
Whose phone number do you wish you had?
Lin-Manuel Miranda [In the Heights, Hamilton]. I have been trying to think of what I would say to him if I ever just ran into him in London (he’s been in the city a lot recently) and I still don’t have anything clever. I would mumble something about him being a genius, but what I would really be thinking is, “Please see through this terrible mumbling and become my friend!”
What’s the worst piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
“What are you going to do with an English degree? Open up an English store?”
What/where is your happy place?
I have an actual happy place! There’s a little room in my flat that my husband made the mistake of saying I could do whatever I want with and so it’s covered in flowers, pastel paint, fairy lights and my sewing machine. It looks a bit silly, but I don’t care at all – being in there just makes me intensely happy.
What would people be surprised to know about you?
I am not sure there’s much that would surprise people (I wear my heart on my sleeve and talk a lot), plus I am a really terrible liar. People who don’t know me well probably think I am far less misanthropic than I really am.
What would be in your Room 101?
People who write “hope your well” and people who say “give 110%”.
Introvert or extrovert?
Optimist or pessimist?
This is probably something that people would actually be surprised to know about me (see earlier question). I am sure most people would say I am an unquestionable optimist, but what I really am deep down is an incredibly happy, smiley pessimist. I love my life and think everything is perfect and wonderful right now, but it is likely to go horribly downhill at any time, so I should get every second of happiness out of now as I can. See? Pessimist!
Film or television? What are you binge-watching at the moment?
Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. She’s a feisty, strong, independent, happily childless middle-aged woman wearing gorgeous costumes with a fabulous bob, while kicking some crime-solving butt with her lipstick and heels intact. I love her.
Sweet or savoury?
Sweet (excessively). I would just skip real food to get to the sugar.
Morning person or night owl?
Tea or coffee?
Emojis – cool or cringey? Which emoji do you use the most?
Cool, although in our team, it’s all about the gif. Our team WhatsApp group and Slack channels sometimes have more gifs than words.