A day in the life of...Fraser Allen, Managing Director, White Light Media

Fraser Allen set up Edinburgh-based content marketing agency White Light Media in 2001. With a background in journalism, he has kept the company's publishing heritage to the fore, crafting magazine-based campaigns (print and online) for clients across the UK and beyond. When he's not doing that, he grapples with goblins, snake wine and naughty cocker spaniels.

27th February 2013

Hugo de Gifford was a Norman aristocrat who danced with the Devil. Back in the mists of time, he built a castle on the edge of Scotland's Lammermuir Hills and, in the dark confines of his cellar, indulged in dastardly acts with goblins. If you know where to look, deep in Yester Wood, you can still find his subterranean Goblin Hall - it's extraordinarily creepy.

It's not far from the Goblin Hall, in the picturesque village of Gifford, that I wake up. I stumble out of bed and creep around in the dark, not wishing to wake my wife Jo or two-year-old daughter Daisy. Within five minutes I'm outside, scraping ice from the windscreen and checking there are no goblins beneath the car.

I head straight for the gym, 25 miles away in Edinburgh - I love a spot of galloping around. Today, I'm on fire. Pandemonium ensues when my singed lycra sets off the alarm.

View photos of Fraser's day on Flickr >>

Our office is nearby ­- a converted whisky bond in the historic port of Leith to the north of the city.

I'd like to pretend that my first challenge of the day involves a call to New York about a massive app development project. In truth, I try to change a light bulb, and fail.

A banana and coffee provide consolation as I catch up - I'm just back after two days in London. Although we're based in Scotland, several of our clients are based down south, and London is the main circulation area for Hot Rum Cow, our frankly marvellous booze magazine (of which more later).

I meet up with two of our editorial wizards, Simon and Chiara, to discuss ways of developing a client's online project ­- we need to help them rethink the content strategy.

We focus very much on magazine-based work - print and digital. In Scotland, we're best known for the digital magazines we've created for brands such as Lloyds, RBS and Standard Life, but our print magazines are just as lovely.

It's great to see the renaissance in high-quality print magazines ­- if you open the tastefully distressed satchel of any bright young thing in Hoxton these days, you'll more than likely find a copy of Little White Lies, The Gentlewoman or Hot Rum Cow.

View photos of Fraser's day on Flickr >>

Skype call to our London Bureau Chief Paul Keers. Paul is always so dapper. One day I hope to catch him wearing a shellsuit and a beanie but today, as ever, he appears in a sharp suit (as befits a former editor of GQ and Sunday Times Style).

Paul is a bit of a legend in magazine publishing and his blog posts on the CMA website are always worth reading. I love his undiminished enthusiasm for great ideas - and the way he cuts through all the hokum.

Today, we're discussing a project we're pitching for in London and the impending resurgence of quality beer in cans.

Time for something I dread - a staff disciplinary meeting. I have a fantastic team here - bright, hard-working and fun. However, there is one employee who has been letting the side down. His work rate is poor and he often falls asleep in the afternoon. If that wasn't bad enough there are now reports of him rifling through the bins looking for food.

The meeting goes okay and Reggie seems to take my final warning on board. Every office needs a cocker spaniel.

View photos of Fraser's day on Flickr >>

12 noon
Jo also works for White Light and has brought in some rather lovely lunch fare for us all to tuck into - tuna, green bean and parma ham salads. I check the the post and emails, and quickly flick through three magazines: Delayed Gratification, Gather and Cornucopia. They are all enjoyable in different ways but the ‘slow journalism' ethos of DG is particularly appealing. Gather is a beautiful recipe book in magazine form. Cornucopia, all about Turkish culture, is a bit old-fashioned design-wise but includes some great writing. I spent a year working in Istanbul, so it brings back memories.

We've just received our audited accounts, so I take another look and scrutinise this year's budget. It gives me food for thought as I take Reggie for a brisk walk along the waterfront. I won't go into details but I really wish he would stop eating my daughter's brightly coloured crayons.

View photos of Fraser's day on Flickr >>

Collaboration meeting. Forming relationships with other agencies in non-competing fields is a great way of building the business and sparking ideas. Today, we meet up with Greenroom Films, based just up the road. They do fantastic work. When we see their showreel, we're amazed at the amount of footage we recognise. I'm with two of my design gurus, Eric Campbell and Islay Brown, and we walk back in the late winter sunshine, full of enthusiasm.

I haven't spent much time in the office recently and so a lot of today is taken up working through emails, admin and a few phone calls. Have a flapjack.

Catch-up time on Hot Rum Cow, the news-stand magazine we launched last year. We did it to demonstrate the magic of intelligently-written, beautifully designed magazines, and it's been thrilling to see it take off. We sell it mainly in London (inc. Harrods and Selfridges), plus subs and high-end design stores around the world. I'm delighted to say it's also led to an influx of exotic booze. Anyone for a glass of snake wine (real snake included)?

View photos of Fraser's day on Flickr >>

Home time. I think about the business all the time and often do a little work in the evenings, but I hardly ever leave the office later than 6pm. To do things well, you need to make space to think.

We eat as soon as I get home (Jamie's sticky kicking chicken with watermelon salad). I then give Daisy a bath and put her to bed, whilst singing a selection of nursery rhymes, badly. She laughs a lot; she has me wrapped around her (very) little finger.

Once she's tucked up, Jo and I pour some wine (not snake), Reggie has a snooze (again) and I chuck another log on the fire. On a still night, I ‘m sure I can hear those goblins in the woods.

Fraser Allen is Managing Director of White Light Media

Posted in Member news
6thMar 2013

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