Unmade: media and marketing analysis
Unmade: media and marketing analysis
Nick Smith on taking the helm at News Corp's content agencies Medium Rare and Storyation

Nick Smith on taking the helm at News Corp's content agencies Medium Rare and Storyation

Welcome to an audio-led edition of Unmade.

Today’s edition features a conversation with Nick Smith, managing director of arguably Australia’s most successful content marketing agency Medium Rare.

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A perfect storm for content marketing: Nick Smith on the growth of Medium Rare as the founders move on

News Corp has been quietly building out its content agency offerings. It owns three of them in Medium Rare, Storyation and Suddenly.

The biggest of the three, Medium Rare, had its roots in the traditions of contract publishing. Founders Gerry Reynolds and Sally Wright, both Bauer Media refugees, launched the company in 2014 with the backing of News Corp. It became a publishing powerhouse, producing customer magazines and digital content for the likes of Qantas, David Jones, Officeworks and Bunnings, with teams dedicated to each individual brand.

News Corp fully bought out Reynolds and Wright last year and they have since left the business.

Meanwhile, News Corp also owns content agency Storyation, founded by Lauren Quaintance and Mimi Cullen. Three years on from the 2019 purchase, Quaintance and Cullen left Storyation last year.

The four founder departures saw Smith who joined Medium Rare as group content director in early 2021, quickly move up the ranks to become managing director where he works alongside chief commercial officer Fiorella Di Santo.

Although Medium Rare and Storyation have seperate teams and cultures, they work out of the same offices in Sydney’s Pyrmont, with Smith and Di Santo across both of them. The duo have faced the challenge of taking forward the two businesses as the four founders exited almost at the same time.

News Corp’s third content agency Suddenly which was launched from within the business, operates from the company’s Surry Hills HQ.

And in 2021, News Corp took majority ownership of Chippendale-based video production house Visual Domain to round out its commercial content offering. The division is led by Mike Connaghan, previously the long time boss of the WPP-aligned STW Group.

In Smith’s interview with Unmade’s Tim Burrowes, loosely timed for the tenth birthdays of both Storyation and Medium Rare, he talks about his journey away from the traditional world of magazines.

The Medium Rare role marked a return to Australia for Smith who was previously London-based CEO of digital publishing startup BURO.Global, which didn’t survive the pandemic.

Before the overseas stint, Smith worked at News Corp as prestige and lifestyle director, where he was responsible for brands including Vogue Australia and GQ Australia. He was also a board member of Medium Rare for three years.

Smith, originally a marketer before crossing into editorial, describes his mission at GQ as catering to ‘men who aspired to be men’. He says: “There was a deep kind of mission to help young, ambitious Australians become successful gentlemen. It was taking that marketing or brand point of view, particularly here in Australia to what GQ meant.”

Smith reflects on the establishment of News Corp’s commercial content arm by senior management. “Three years ago, they realised that there were so many employees at News doing commercial content, either it was advertorials or native content, or what we were doing over here. Smartly, News Corp saw the growth of content marketing as an industry, not just overseas, but in Australia. So they really formalised the structure within News for us to really start to grow.”

Smith sees content marketing going through a further evolution. “We've almost come full circle to say, ‘well actually, if a brand does become a publisher they are really about engaging their audience on their own channels through their own content and growing that audience’.

“There's the advent of retail media - so that content ecosystem has become even more powerful. Every second media story that I see out there is about retail media. So it's actually been fantastic, a perfect storm for us.”

All quiet on the Unmade Index

The Unmade Index, our basked of locally listed media and marketing companies, tread water on Wednesday, echoing the All Ords which also stood still. The index moved up just 0.3 points to 604.2 points.

On a day where the majority of Unmade Index stocks did not move at all, ARN was one of just three on the rise, up by 2.16%. Ooh Media was up 1.05% and Domain 0.58%.

In the other direction, Enero was down 0.61%, Southern Cross Austereo by 0.48% and Nine by 0.26%.

Time to leave you to your Thursday.

We’ll be back tomorrow with a retail media focused edition.

Editing was courtesy of Abe’s Audio, the people to talk to about voiceovers, sound design and podcast production.

Message us: letters@unmade.media


Tim Burrowes

Publisher - Unmade

Unmade: media and marketing analysis
Unmade: media and marketing analysis
Media and marketing news with all the in-depth analysis, insight and context you need.
Unmade offers industry news from an Australian perspective, from the founder of Mumbrella and the author of the best-selling book Media Unmade, Tim Burrowes