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The Drum’s deputy editor Charlotte McEleny on content marketing

The Drum is a global, multimedia business publication for the marketing and advertising industry. Born in Glasgow, Scotland 30 years ago, it also has homes in the US and, as of early 2016, Asia, too.

Leading that latest expansion was Charlotte McEleny. “It was just me for a year here [in Singapore], so I learned very quickly how supportive The Drum would be from afar, but also how tough it can be to get things done in a time zone on your own.”

It can’t be said that the hard work hasn’t paid off. Today, there are five Drum staffers across the region — three of whom, including Charlotte herself, are in Singapore, specifically at The Working Capitol on Robinson.

Charlotte “fell into writing about marketing” after she graduated from journalism school, and finally took the editorial experience she accumulated at an assortment of marketing publications to The Drum. There, she is their deputy and Asia Pacific editor, working with the global editorial team to source inspiring industry-related content in this part of the world.

The Drum is determined to reflect one of business’ most exciting areas by being just as interesting itself. “We write about a very creative industry and we need to use all the channels we can to bring that to life — be that print, digital, video, or live events,” Charlotte explains. Not to mention the content marketing solutions they provide, research they conduct, and awards they hand out.

The content itself is hard to ignore. Interviewees include former US President Barack Obama’s second-term principal deputy press secretary Eric Schultz, Nasa’s social media team, and Sir Richard Branson — and that’s just from one issue of their monthly print magazine. There are also sections like ‘Creative Works’ — a curated showcase of  recent and crowd-submitted projects from around the globe — and ‘Shelf Life’ — a peek at the things creative people surround themselves with.

“We’re a business magazine that’s never worn a suit in its life,” Charlotte sums up. “Okay, maybe to award shows.”


The Working Capitol: The Drum believes marketing can change the world. How?

Charlotte McEleny: Marketers are in charge of millions of dollars of ‘communication’, they have the attention of the world, and they are the reason so much of what we use and consume exists. There would be no Facebook without marketing spend; there would be none of the amazing content we consume all the time.

Once you have that in your head, you realise that marketing is a powerful tool and one that should be used positively. It doesn’t mean marketers shouldn’t sell anything — far from that — but it means that this power is a responsibility and we haven’t even scratched the surface on how it can be harnessed for positive change.


This is possibly a reductive question and please tell me if you agree… But do you have a “golden rule” of marketing?

This is a golden rule I think of as a journalist but it absolutely crosses over into the marketing world: Always have the audience in mind when making any decision. It is amazing how often we can create things or end up down a rabbit hole on something only to realise it’s a load of rubbish because we haven’t considered the person on the end of it.


In a predominantly (and only increasingly) digital world, why still invest in print, and so regularly?

We believe people still want print. Our readers do, even if the number of those is small compared to the digital audience. We believe in the craft of it and we have a very talented team of designers.

There is also a different behaviour attached with reading print. It’s really cerebral and a bit more ‘lean-in’ (if that doesn’t sound too buzzwordy). We’ve ended up completely changing the content to reflect that. It’s not about news in our print magazine; it’s longer articles with big visual, creative content alongside it.


On a personal note, what recharges or inspires you?

I love walking. I walk hardly anywhere as much as I should as Singapore is a bit sweaty for that, but when I can I put on a good playlist or podcast and put my feet to work. It totally clears my head, fills me with energy, and just makes me really happy.

In place of doing this between meetings and during the day, I now try and get myself out to MacRitchie Reservoir or the Southern Ridges on the weekends as much as I can, to remind myself I’m on an amazing tropical island.


Finally: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve come across, or can give?

I think it’s just about having a good attitude. Be nice and work really hard and people will respect you. If they don’t, they’re definitely evil and should be avoided at all costs (that’s bonus advice from me).

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