Jennifer Ferguson, who was recently appointed SVP of global communications at photo agency and supplier Getty Images, talks to Gorkana about her move from fine arts business and auction house Christie’s and her plans and ambitions for the new role.
What attracted you to Getty?
I have known and worked with the Getty Images brand for years as a client. First at PMK and then at Miramax and Kerzner. I had a great respect for it, but I really only knew Getty Images within the context of news and entertainment.
When I started speaking to Dawn Airey, the CEO, about the position, I realised the company was so much larger than what I had initially thought, and that it was actually the largest provider of visual content in the world.
Getty Images is such a unique brand, in that it is a brand that tens of millions of people interact with every day, whether or not they realise it! Getty Images is at the forefront of every media and visual touchpoint we use daily. It has a great story to tell in the content and digital space, and several innovations in the works for strategic growth. It’s a dream job!
What are your comms ambitions for 2017 and beyond?
Very broadly, we will work on telling our story through a defined corporate narrative that supports the strategic growth plan. Our strategy is Getty Images Everywhere – we move the world with images.
Getty Images has so much knowledge to share. Being the largest visual content provider in a world that communicates with images allows us to have a unique view. We will use that view to have a strong thought-leadership position in the digital content space, and ensure all of our PR actions are not just transactional, but roll up and support our strategic plan and the business narrative to grow the business and value.
How is the Getty business changing?
Getty Images was built on a very strong B2B business that continues to grow at a healthy pace. Under Dawn’s leadership, Getty Images has rolled out a B2E (Business to Everyone) strategy that allows that B2B segment to continue to grow while finding new opportunities for Getty Images to grow its consumer business by creating products that best serve new and existing users.
We recently hired a managing editor to oversee all content inclusive of our home page and social channels, making them more “E” friendly, created an innovation lab to nurture incubation of new products and technologies for consumers, and we have hired a head of data and analytics so that we can work smarter for our customers.
What are the communications challenges surrounding that?
I think our challenges are not unique. Agreeing a narrative and sticking to it is always a challenge. In such a fast-paced business and media world, it is easy to get stuck in a reactive cycle, trying to please everyone in the short-term. It takes real discipline and commitment to focus on the long-term and change a conversation, and we want to play the long game. We have to be educators in the process to get our internal stakeholders’ buy-in and trust, as well as understand the difference between strategic communications and transactional PR.
You communicate to a diverse audience (B2B and B2C), do you have any tips for PR leaders in a similar position?
Craft your over-arching narrative and then tailor the message to your constituent groups accordingly. They can actually bolster one another. For us, the B2B audience are also consumers and will see that messaging. Conversely, the B2C audience can create mass appeal for a brand which will influence the B2B audience. They each need attention and should complement one another.
What do you like best about working in-house?
Oh, how I love working in-house! I love the time and space to know a brand from every angle, to have deep relationships with all of the internal stakeholders, to be immersed in the partner functions strategies. I just love being part of a brand, seeing it change and watching it grow.