Women In Media: Today we Meet Storyation Founder Mimi Cullen

Women In Media: Today we Meet Storyation Founder Mimi Cullen

In today’s Women in Media Profile, Mimi Cullen, co-Founder and commercial director of Sydney content marketing agency Storyation talks about the joy of working with journalists, not celebrating the wins too soon and why women should really avoid cleaning the house…

Describe your average day?
I’d like to say I rise at 5am and drink my kombucha tea before a light yoga session but the truth is I’m more likely running out the door at 8am with unbrushed hair and a piece of buttery white toast in my hand. Thankfully there isn’t any such thing as an “average day” when we’re working with clients as diverse as BUPA to BPay. The discussion in the office can range from whether you can be fit but fat to whether or not ATM machines will exist in five years (all in the course of a morning.) At the moment we’re working on a very large digital content project for Tourism Australia so barely a day goes by when we don’t have the pleasure of a meeting with our friends at TA. Evenings are invariably spent with a glass of wine in hand and a laptop on my knee while watching the latest box set.
What’s the most challenging thing about your job?
Storyation is a boutique content marketing agency but we all have a background working for major publishers so we religiously put the audience at the centre of everything we do. Convincing brands of the power of being brave enough to strip away the sales pitch and put the audience first is a big part of my job.
What drives you?
A blank sheet of paper and a problem. Creating and building something from scratch – whether it’s a piece of strategy or a business – energises me.
What’s the hardest brief you’ve ever received or hardest job to execute?
Since Storyation’s co-founder Lauren Quaintance is an ex-GM of Travel at Fairfax we work for a number of tourism bodies with difficult job of taking to audiences in a diverse range of global markets with very different needs and barriers to travel. About 18 months ago we created a strategy for Tourism NZ’s PR team to help them to shift from a focus on famils to a focus on content creation to drive earned media. It was ground-breaking and exceptionally complex but they’ve seen great results in a short period and that has been hugely rewarding.
What has been your favourite job in media and why?
While working at ABC Radio straight out of uni I got a short gig filling in for Triple J’s Marketing Manager at a time when I sat squarely in the target demo. Starry-eyed, I hung around the studios of Andy Glitre, Helen Razor, Mikey Robbins and Angela Catterns, worked on youth campaigns and promos like the Hottest 100 and took home a truckload of pre-release CDS everyday.
What would be your ultimate role?
I’m in it. Working with journalists, photographers, videographers, designers who are the best of the best to create great content for blue chip brands is exactly where I want to be.
What’s your quirkiest attribute?
I will only drink my skim flat-white from a takeaway cup. Not particularly environmentally friendly but the ratio of espresso to milk is just right.
One thing no one knows about you?
I burn expensive candles at home on the weekend to hide the chemical stench of anti-nit shampoo (I have three daughters, all with long, thick hair).
What are advertising/marketing’s biggest challenges?
Defining the most effective form of measurement. Brands need to ask themselves what is the best measure of success? Is it brand awareness, lead generation, thought leadership, website traffic and build a strategy accordingly but leave room to respond to the market, events and media trends.
What do you think are the most exciting things in the marketing and creative world at the moment?
Brands becoming storytellers. It’s no longer just the domain of global brands with deep pockets and an appetite to experiment. Today there are few savvy marketers who aren’t investing in innovative, original, shareable content to connect with audiences that are switching off to traditional advertising and asking for something in return for their time.
Hardest lesson you’ve had to learn (in or out of workforce)?
Don’t celebrate the wins too early or too loudly. I’ve learnt that things are rarely as good or bad as they first seem.
Guilty pleasure?
Doner Kebabs with extra hummus.
What’s your favourite TV programme?
Right now I’m into The Kettering Incident and Barracuda. And, oddly for someone who knows nothing about sport, I try not to miss The Back Page on Fox Sports.
What turns you on, emotionally, creatively, spirituality?
Courage. I’m always inspired by bold risk takers.
What turns you off?
Tight-lipped closed mindedness. And a jobsworth attitude.
What profession would you not like to do?
Spray tan technician. The fumes…and eyeballing white, lumpy bodies day in day out. No thanks.
Have you ever felt like giving up?
Often. But pushing through the pain is a mantra of mine and I try not to move on until I’ve tried my best to master the task I was finding a struggle.
What are the pearls of wisdom you know now, that you wish you knew when they were younger?
Annabel Crabb wrote a great piece last year  ‘Why you shouldn’t clean your house’. A bit of mess never hurt anyone. And it frees up a whole lot of time for the fun stuff. Couldn’t agree more.

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