Ahead of our event on 10th September at MediaCityUK, we spoke to Communications Manager Lisa Woods who told us a bit more about the thriving media hub.
As means of an introduction, could you tell us what the thinking was behind the launch of MediaCityUK?
The catalyst was trying to attract the BBC to the area back in 2005. They were looking to set up outside of London and already had a drama hub in Manchester, so it made sense as a location for a new base to relocate several departments out of London. The council who owned the local area put a proposition together with some of the city partners to try and attract the BBC to the area, and it worked. MediaCityUK is a natural fit for the media players and creatives that inhabit it now; it’s close to all the amenities you need. We’re now six, seven years on from setting up and MediaCityUK has far surpassed our expectations.
So the BBC led the way and everyone else followed?
Exactly, although now there is so much more to what goes on here than just the BBC. We have so much more to play with at MediaCityUK than other new offices in Manchester. It’s a real location in it’s own right and the BBC liked that potential. Once they were on board other creative businesses followed. Around the Olympics we had a really fantastic host of small businesses move here which added to the mix of people – including camera and lighting hire companies, media agencies, PR companies and artists. More people moving in means there will be even more going on in the coming years.
How many companies are there in MediaCityUK now?
I did a headcount recently; there are over 100 businesses here. This is probably even higher at the moment actually due to freelancers at the global companies we’ve got; BBC, ITV and the like. Coronation Street’s production company will move here next year too and we have Salford University which has a campus just down the road. We’ve got a new site here for the students to use which is very exciting for both students and staff.
It’s obviously booming – what are your hopes for MediaCityUK in the future as it grows in size and status?
One of my aspirations is to build more space; we’re at the point where we’re quite full at the moment, so we are looking further into that. However, it takes a long time to build bigger businesses, especially locally.
We are also working globally with lots of different technology and media companies who have started to realise the potential of MediaCityUK and what’s here, in terms of development and access. The Theatre is a main attraction and the cricket ground; this is really the new area and has a massive range of events.
So it’s moving from a place to work to a place to visit?
Indeed, it’s a real community with a lot of attraction and this should be quite an interesting few years. There are lots of fun events coming up – a charity black tie ball and the Hiscox art and coffee event in the piazza.
Could you tell me a bit about what your role as Communications Manager entails on a daily basis?
I work on the PR side of the business, so I have an interest in MediaCityUK’s development and promoting all it has to offer. Small businesses are key; they are the crown jewels around here. I think it’s interesting to get to know them, and I often have a quick coffee with new freelancers and business to get to know what they’re about. It’s important people know they are here, how they are making their money and why they wanted to be a part of the community.
I’ve been here 5 years now. I was here when it was just a building site. So it’s interesting to see how much it’s grown. My role has changed massively over the past year – before it was very much visualising what MediaCityUK could be like and trying to communicate what was going to be here, but now it’s actually happening at MediaCityUK.
Describe the vibe at MediaCityUK – what’s it like to be a small business working there?
I think it’s great. There are very few areas where small businesses can be based, and the ones based here now are very relevant to what goes on here. We have a lot of drama based businesses and graphics companies. There’s lots of filming going on, lots of people eating food, but also its very busy and there’s a lot of excitement in the Pie Factory. The Greenhouse has really taken a light of its own – it has a really fantastic mix of small businesses now, who have really got to know each other. We run a lot of events for the talent here and there’s always people about. It really is a wonderful place. Having the likes of ITV here means there’s always something going on and everyone goes out of their way to get involved, which gives businesses a chance to network.
What’s the best thing about working at MediaCityUK?
No two days are the same. You really don’t know what’s going to happen from one day to the next. I get to watch some amazing shows with fantastic celebs in the studio and finding out what all the businesses are doing here is great. I love the environment and it’s the people working here that make the environment.
What do you think about Hiscox choosing to celebrate the small businesses and freelance community here?
I think it’s fantastic. It’s going to be such a good event because everyone’s put so much effort into it and, as I said before, it’s a really good opportunity to bring tenants together because they are always looking for events to give them a chance to network but because of new people moving in and out each week they often don’t get the chance. Through this event, they can meet each other and celebrate what they are doing here. I think the BBC and ITV play an important role in getting small businesses recognised and Hiscox are doing an event to help showcase that. The talent here is wonderful, so we’re look forward to celebrating it.
Find out more about MediaCityUK at http://www.mediacityuk.co.uk/