Interviews, Marketing & Advertising

Balancing the Grind With Claire Nance, Head of Marketing Communications at Activision Blizzard Media

November 7, 2019

Claire Nance is the Head of Marketing Communications at Activision Blizzard Media, where she heads up the marketing communications for the company’s media & advertising arm.

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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your background and career?

I generally think of my career in two parts – the first in Australia and the second in the US, or more specifically New York.

I’ve always been a media nerd, so after studying journalism at university I joined the editorial team of a digital start-up. Back then, working in digital was almost unheard of (Twitter and Facebook were only just getting off the ground) and definitely not seen as ‘cool’ or even legitimate!

But I was fortunate enough to arm myself with strong digital skills so early in my career. After about three years, I made the shift to PR to widen my skill set and bring more variety to my day-to-day.

I built a career in communications with a focus on media at a time when it was starting to undergo rapid change, initially in TV (The Weather Channel, SBS) and later print/digital (News Corp).

With a decade’s worth of experience in communications behind me, I was hungry for a greater professional challenge so made the move to New York in 2016.

After working agency-side when I arrived, I moved back in-house first at IPG Mediabrands, and now at Activision Blizzard Media, where I head up marketing communications for our media and advertising arm.

2) What is your current role and what does it entail on a day to day basis?

I’ve just joined Activision Blizzard Media as Head of Marketing Communications, which means aside from getting to geek out on video games all day, it is my job to tell our story both externally to media and the wider industry, and internally to our employees.

I work very closely with our leadership team on a day-to-day basis to understand our business priorities and objectives, and then make decisions around how we communicate those to tell the right story to the right people at the right time.

Advertising in gaming is a very new space, so it’s exciting to be helping shape the narrative around something that is growing so rapidly.

3) What does a typical day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?

On a typical day I could be speaking to reporters around our latest research or product announcement, working with our leadership team ahead of a presentation or an event, crafting internal memos or developing our strategic framework.

It’s varied, like so many communications roles, but that is one of the reasons I enjoy it so much. Communications touches so many different departments across the organization so you are constantly learning, but you also have the opportunity to have a real impact and influence on the business.

4) Do you have any tips, tricks or shortcuts to help you prioritise your workload?

Getting to know yourself and how you work best. And being honest about it. If you can tailor your work day/week to best suit your working style and preferences, it will go a long way in helping your productivity and overall satisfaction.

Workplaces have evolved so much even in the past 5-10 years, and it is partly in recognition that there isn’t a one-size-fit-all approach to working.

On an operational level, make friends with the tools and platforms you use daily and customize them so they work best for you. Small things like setting up automatic forwarding on emails or customizing which notifications you receive can help save time and mental energy, which means you can focus more on the important and less on the urgent.

5) In between your job, life and all your other responsibilities, how do you ensure you find some sort of balance in your life?

I’m pretty stubborn about making time for the things that I value in my life outside of work. The key for me in making that work is being organized.

Planning in general comes naturally for me so I know where the pockets of time are where I can do the things I love. And if my work schedule changes, I’ve learnt how to be flexible and make adjustments so I can still fit in the things that are important – which is sometimes something as simple as getting enough sleep!

6) What are some of the things you do to take time out and recharge?

I love to run. The endorphins plus the mindfulness you experience on a long run help me to get my thoughts in order and re-set. I’ve heard a lot of writers say they have their best ideas on a run, and I’ve definitely had a few light bulb moments.

And of course, playing video games. From the mobile games like Candy Crush and Call of Duty mobile, to one of my old favorites Crash Bandicoot. I’m constantly learning about new games to play from my team in the office!

7) What do you think are some of the best habits you’ve developed over the years to help you strive for success and balance?

Knowing how to set boundaries. Work is unlimited, especially in a field like communications where there is always another reporter to pitch or piece of content to write.

The digital age means that boundaries between work and leisure have never been more blurred, so being able to recognize when an email can wait until the next day and having the discipline not to act on things when they’re not urgent is vital.

And I say discipline because the temptation to reply to ‘just one’ email or check your inbox quickly can be strong! Setting boundaries, and communicating these to those you work with, can help prevent work from taking over your life.

8) Are there any books you’ve read that have helped you with work-life balance?

It’s not a book about work-life balance as such, but Imagine It Forward: Courage, Creativity, and the Power of Change by Beth Comstock (former CMO of GE) really stuck with me. It had a lot of lessons about career and managing challenges and change in the workplace during a time of digital disruption.

One of her tips was to keep a work journal to track the good and the not-so-good, and allow yourself the opportunity to reflect and ask yourself how would I have done it differently and what have I learnt.

9) What is the number one thing you do to make sure you get the most out of your day?

I’m a morning person, so I like to prioritize my day to get the most important tasks done early when I have more focus and energy.

I also write my to-do list the night before so I’m clear on my key goals and tasks, and then re-evaluate in the morning depending on what might have come through overnight. It’s all about the balance between organization and flexibility!

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