In this special edition of ’10 minutes with…’, Mail Metro Media’s Freena Tailor sits down with Newsworks to discuss how she got into the industry, her initiative to help widen opportunities for those interested in a media career without a media background and who would make her fantasy dinner guest list…
How did you get into the media industry?
Through a summer course at Brixton Finishing School (BFS), which I’d really recommend to anyone from diverse or socially mobile backgrounds. BFS is sponsored by loads of companies from the media industry, including Mail Metro Media.
After graduating from BFS, Mail Metro Media were offering a rotational internship which really appealed to my indecisive brain. The programme helped me discover my passion for data and insight, so I proposed a job role before the placement ended and I was back a month later on the insight team! I’ve now been here for three years and my role has developed into a more data-driven role.
The role has given me the tools and connections to develop my skills and grow my confidence — I’m really proud of how far I have come since being an intern a few years ago.
What does your day look like?
Every day is so different, which is what I love about my job. One day I’m working on an ad effectiveness for a travel client and the next day we’ll have a brief on bladder control.
Overall, my days consist of working on research projects, supporting our sales teams with insights for pitches and scoping out ways to enhance our data products. I’m also now coordinating our NXT Gen Nation internship programme with BFS, so I’ve really come full circle.
What’s the proudest moment of your career so far?
It has to be setting up NXT Gen Nation for BFS grads. I was part of the internship in 2019 and now I’ve developed it into a programme with its own identity. Through the internship, we’ve hired seven students, 57% of whom are still in the company and moved into permanent roles! We’re looking forward to welcoming our candidates for another year soon too.
Whether candidates stay with us or move on to other ventures, I’ve stayed connected to them. I feel blessed to be part of their journey and I feel like a proud mum watching them grow.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received?
Be the change you want to see (which I actually heard on Prison Break). It’s very easy to get caught up in the day-to-day, so I think it’s always important to have a passion project alongside your normal role. For me, that’s managing the NXT Gen Nation internship and mentoring young talent in the business. News brands can seem like outdated media for young people, so I aim to show them that there are long-term opportunities here.
Who or what is your biggest inspiration?
Being the first generation in the UK within my bloodline, it has to be my family.
Also my mentors and role models in the industry: Ally Owen (founder of Brixton Finishing School) and Ryan Uhl (chief brand strategy officer at Mail Metro Media — he also hired me!).
You’re a journalist for a day: what would you cover?
Probably that I believe aliens are real and we didn’t need a congressional hearing to prove it.
How does journalism matter to you?
I believe journalism is vital for educating, informing and helping the world form opinions. I love hearing different views on certain topics, which I think is the fun of journalism — embracing juxtaposing opinions while forming your own.
We heard you were aat Cannes this year — how was it?
It was incredible. I ended up spending 48 hours there as I had to rush back to watch my brother get hitched. The time I had there was so worthwhile and beneficial for my career. I connected with many like-minded individuals, learnt more about industry trends and proved to myself that I can function at social events with three hours of sleep.
It was an honour to be part of the Cannes for All programme and it was refreshing to see young and diverse talent gaining more opportunities at a well-established media event.
What advice would you give someone who wants to work in the media industry?
Building connections and maintaining those connections are really important. In this industry, I believe the more people you know, the better — it can be surprising how often you cross paths with people.
How do you switch off from work?
Cosy gaming, walks in the park, spending time with my cheeky niece and binge-watching crime documentaries.
Who are your fantasy dinner party guests?
Michael Jackson, Ryan Reynolds, Edward Enninful and Rihanna.
If you weren’t in the media industry, you would…?
Probably still be working the counter at itsu!
Gym or gin?
Gym then gin, obviously!