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Craft Everything: In Conversation with Channel 5's Rob Fox


Gemini People speaks to Channel 5's head of creative about his journey into the industry, the changes he's seen within creative and strategy, and what advice he would give young talent trying to get into the industry

Craft Everything: In Conversation with Channel 5's Rob Fox

Gemini People caught up with Rob Fox, head of creative at Channel 5, about his journey into the industry, the changes he's seen within creative and strategy and what advice he would give young talent trying to get their foot in the door.

Q> Firstly, tell us about your journey into the creative industry.

Rob Fox> Like most people I work with, I had no idea that broadcasters had creative teams, let alone the full scope of their remit (idents, continuity, branding, channel takeovers, stunts, the list goes on and on). However, I did know that they did news and that sounded pretty varied so I embarked on a broadcast journalism degree with a mind to landing a plum job with Sky Sports. It would appear though that upon securing a position with them (network co-ordinator - pretty f*cking boring) I then experienced first-hand the reality of day-trips to interview the manager of Dagenham & Redbridge FC (not a trip worth repeating) and from there found myself drawn to the creative team with their big commercial shoots, fast-paced edits and amazing design team (never looked back).

Q> What are the main changes you've seen within your creative/strategy at Channel 5 compared to what you were doing when you joined? 

Rob> Well the big one is: when I started we only had one channel. Back then only having the maintenance of the on air capacity of one channel seems crazy (the team is smaller if anything now!) but creatives are so much more nimble now. I can still remember the launch of our digital channels, the birth of our social feeds and My5, our online VOD player. One thing holds true though, the power of video when you are a broadcaster is more important than ever. It showcases quality and raises you above the field. On air remains one of the places we can achieve our greatest reach so despite investment in social and off air and episodic key art, we will never take our eye of the day-to-day promos that we continue to craft and hone. That part still holds true from day one to present day.

Q> You must have to be quite an agile team with the amount of channels you manage. Tell us about the team structure.

Rob> We’re a relatively small team, especially considering the amount of channels we manage (6 in total) but that has helped create a really strong team ethic. In terms of structure we have similar setups to many places. I work very closely with our head of production and design and each of us has seniors, mid-weights, juniors beneath them. However, one thing always holds true, everyone from the interns to the heads of department can pitch ideas or voice their opinion and we all get stuck in at some point (usually Friday afternoon natch).

Q> Do you have any areas where you struggle to hire new talent?

Rob> Sometimes it can be hard to find people who tick all the boxes for a broadcast creative. Unlike advertising, you’re expected to generate ideas, write scripts and copy as well as put together edits and handle the post. I’m also a great believer in ideas being at the heart of all of our campaigns so I like my team to be able to use basic Photoshop and InDesign meaning their ideas can be fully realised and presented. And then we have people who also use After Effects and then the ones who are self-shooters. Plus others can direct and storyboard. The perfect candidate? They have all of the above. And yes, we have people who do have all of the above. So yes, we’re asking a lot. But sometime it’s about finding the right candidate not the most qualified one. We know it’s quite a unique skill set so if a person’s character is right the rest is something we know we can achieve through a combination of training and team management regardless of their experience or background.

Q> Why do you think it’s important for Channel 5 and other broadcasters to strive for as diverse a workforce as possible?

Rob> For me diversity isn’t about box-ticking or looking to balance teams. It’s about creating the best teams possible because a team that can draw from a breadth of backgrounds and experiences will always deliver you better results than one drawing from the same shared similar experiences. We have a brilliant, hard-working, diverse bunch both at Channel 5 and across the Viacom creative team and I fully believe being able to tap into a wider spread of ideas and experiences is producing better creative. That holds true in any industry or field.

Q> You are an exec board member of Promax UK, can you tell us more about that?

Rob> I’ve been on the board of Promax UK for about three years now. I’m a great believer in not just raising the creative output of my own team but the broadcast sphere as a whole.  Yes, we’re competitors but we’re also a body and more than ever, especially with the move away from linear output, we will continue to grow and diversify output together. My personal role centres around Learning and Development and I set-up a variety of courses aimed at helping broadcast creatives improve their skill sets and to learn from those in their industry  (there’s lots of advertising-focused courses, less so broadcast ones). We also work with companies such as Creative Access to bring in young people who are trying to start a career in a creative industry as well as running mentor schemes.

Q> Finally, what advice would you give to young people trying to get their foot in the door?

Rob> Craft everything. This is your professional output, your work-self and you have to showcase yourself and everything you do in the best possible way. So craft everything from pitches and ideas to your website, your CV and even emails. Write them. Review them. And then check them again. Even that LinkedIn profile (and yes, you should have one) craft it, think about what info you want on there (it will be most recruiters’ first point of call) and what it says about you. As for everything else on social, if you haven’t got it on max privacy and are serious about making a name for yourself then believe me, you will regret that decision at some point.

Rob Fox is the head of creative for Channel 5 and manages the creative output for all of their channels as well as their VOD service, My5.  

He has worked on and overseen a variety of award-winning print, digital and 360 campaigns in his time there and prior to that worked at Sky.


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Genres: People

Categories: Media and Entertainment, Broadcaster

Major Players, Thu, 04 Jul 2019 09:36:58 GMT