Women in Content: An interview with Katie Fincham

By Natasha Glazebrook, The CMA on

Ahead of our hugely popular Women in Content event on the 8th March, held to celebrate iInternational Women’s Day, we caught up with each of the five speakers to find out a bit more about how they navigate the industry. Get to know Katie…

Katie Fincham is Earned Communications Director for international digital agency Stickyeyes. Whilst managing a team of over 40 content specialists she’s also responsible for the content output for numerous multi-lingual, global brands including Adobe, Etihad, Hertz and Groupon.

Katie Fincham, Earned Communications Director of Stickyeyes

Always eager to stay one step ahead whilst delivering consistent long-term success, Katie drove the introduction of the agency’s influencer marketing offering, before influencer engagement was even a thing and is part of senior management team leading Stickyeyes to Performance Agency of the Year 2020 and Best Large Integrated Search Agency the year before. Katie is passionate about supporting women, parents and mental wellbeing throughout the agency through their #sticktogether networks.

Check out the conversation we had for an insight on her motivations and creativity…

Hi Katie, really pleased to have Stickyeyes as new members with the CMA, and we’re excited that you’re joining us for the Women in Content event for your CMA event debut! Can you tell us about yourself and what you do at Stickyeyes? 

I run the content and PR team for digital agency group, Stickyeyes, while balancing motherhood and working part-time. My role is about running our 40-strong team of content writers, editors and PR experts, ensuring we’re delivering a world-class service for our clients at the same time as ensuring everyone feels supported, enthused and that we continue to help them develop their careers. We speak over 20 languages in-house so, producing content in a number of different languages as well as working across various time-zones helps to keep us on our toes. SEO has been ingrained in the core of Stickyeyes’ offering since we started over 20 years ago – and we’ve seen (and continue to see) huge growth and emphasis in quality content driving performance.

Will you share how you have got to where you are now?  

I joined Stickyeyes in November 2009 as a graduate in marketing with languages. Stickyeyes was just starting to dip its toe into international activity, so I was brought in to help with some of the French and Spanish campaigns. The company was only about 60 people in size at the time, so I found it was easy to learn about the various other areas and develop my skills, something which we’ve always been encouraged to take the time to do. Within a year, I’d taken on a team leader role in outreach for our retail clients, and in 2011 I helped to develop our influencer engagement offering.

Stickyeyes has always been fleet of foot in developing new service offerings around the needs of our clients so, our team evolved, with specialists joining from social, PR and content backgrounds, and in 2014, I took on the role to head up our Earned Marketing Communications Team. In 2014, we had a team of 15-20, so I’ve seen this double over the past six years, and witnessed a whole host of change and growth through our acquisition of content marketing agency, Zazzle Media, and our integration as part of IPG Media brands. 

And what has motivated you throughout your journey to get to this position?

People! Relationships with people across the business and our clients is at the heart of what we do. In fact, passion is one of our key values and something we’re all focused on – developing and empowering our talented team, and keeping our clients happy with high quality results. And, it’s actually one of the key points I’m going to cover in my talk at the upcoming event. 

So you say that you manage a team of 40+ people – how do you manage such a large team, and would you say there are some key skills to leadership? 

Managing a large department is a big job, but I’m surrounded by an experienced support team to help line manage parts of the team. We all trust each other but are equally happy to lean on each other or ask for support when we need it. When you have such a big team (plus work part-time), balance is essential. You need to remember that you can’t do everything yourself, your job is to keep your team motivated, challenged and able to deliver top-class work which will in turn keep our clients happy. 

How do you and your team stay creative and go about implementing new ideas?

We have always encouraged knowledge sharing in our company either through All Agency Learning Lunches where we share important, interesting or inspiring projects or smaller team huddles where we share news, trends and campaigns we’re inspired by. Each team always makes time to sit down every week or two to share our skills and expertise, and have debates around changes in the industry. With new trends, it’s important to refer back to relevance. Always ask, is this relevant to my brand and audience? If it is, then let’s test it out and see what works.  

Can you give us any examples when you came across difficultly, and how you overcame it?

The past year has been an enormous challenge – not only did we have COVID-19 and working from home to compete with (like everyone else), but I had also only just returned from maternity leave, so was trying to learn how to balance my new hours working part-time. Alongside this, I also received a breast cancer diagnosis in Spring – so as you can imagine, 2020 gave me a lot of challenges and difficulties. How did I overcome them? I put my positive head on, I focused on short-term goals, and I got through it. Support from work and my colleagues helped massively and I appreciate many people didn’t have the support they expected in 2020 but, by setting targets, in a year of uncertainty, I was able to get some control back and I feel I achieved a huge amount at the most challenging time of my life.

What do you believe makes a good campaign? 

There’s not just one answer here, but for me relevance is critical. You need to look at your brand values, your audience insights, and industry trends. Does the campaign fit the bill? Does your brand have a right to be talking about this? Will your audience care? Does the data back up your idea? Thankfully Stickyeyes has always invested in its R&D capabilities to drive data and insight which makes our jobs much easier but, if you don’t have access to your own data, there are a raft of tools out there to help you make the right decisions. To me, a campaign without consideration of this means your results can only go so far, as you won’t be getting through to the right audience.

You mentioned previously that your agency has a #sticktogether network – can you tell us more about this and what your involvement is? Can anyone else learn from what you do here? 

Our People Team introduced our #sticktogether network a few years ago to provide support for women, parents and mental wellbeing, agency wide. These groups are run by a variety of people throughout the agency, with their focus informed by the needs of the team. They help coordinate things like the introduction of mental health first aiders, inspirational industry speakers, support on agency policy changes as well as regular catch ups to discuss challenges, share advice or just the odd ‘argh’ moment. As you can imagine, our Parents WhatsApp has been very lively across the last year, with us all sharing tips – and moans – to help us get through lockdown and homeschooling. I’m also a core member of the Women’s Group where we aim to support the team to reach their full potential by driving conversations, nurturing skills, facilitating networks and championing success. 

Do you ever have doubt? How do you overcome this?

I think everyone has doubts and can suffer imposter syndrome at times. Over the years, I’ve tried various tactics but learnt that the best thing you can do is acknowledge your doubts – and try to think rationally and positively about them. Something that has worked for me is finding a supportive ear from colleagues and friends who have been able to provide reassurance and helped with my self-confidence. Equally if you’d prefer to talk to someone you don’t know, many of the team act as Mentors for schemes such as ‘Lean In’ so it’s worth exploring what other options are out there. 

On Monday 8th March, Katie will be joining the CMA’s Women in Content virtual webinar series as she presents ‘The Power of Connections and Embracing Change – plus 8 other things I’ve learnt in a decade in content marketing’. Join the CMA, Katie and four other fantastic female content leaders for a discussion about navigating our industry, taking on leadership and other tips for creativity and motivations.

Women In Content

Find out more about the Women in Content Event on 8th March.

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