Journalist Spotlight | Interview with Head of Video at Pedestrian Group, Anna Lawrence
Anna Lawrence is currently working as the Head of Video and Senior Creative Producer at Pedestrian Group, a role she has held since October 2018.
Medianet sat down with Anna to talk about her career and how she got to where she is now.
You are currently working as the head of video at Pedestrian Group and you have experience working in many different areas of the media industry such as a campaign manager and producer. How did working in these roles prepare you for future endeavours in your career?
I think that every job that you have, even if it’s unrelated, can prepare you for all future career plans. It’s really just how you look at it and how you approach it, there are always lessons to be learned.
I really am so grateful to have experienced so many different forms of production, and my career path definitely was not linear. I went from being a receptionist/actor straight into producing music videos, short films, and then TV commercials.
I moved to London and started doing odd jobs as a runner on sets of huge budget TV commercials, and those were the days where I actually learned the most. Being at the bottom of the food chain but having eyes everywhere really lets you see how the sausage is made, and having access into all the departments really makes you think about where you want to be.
The flexibility of the media industry is what makes it so exciting.
What have you learnt the most about yourself during your career, so far?
Oh wow…where do I start?
I think that one of the things I learnt about myself was that variety is key for me. As a producer, you have to have your fingers in so many pies and have your brain switched into so many different areas in all aspects of a project. Everyday is different; you might be on set, or with a client, or managing the team, and I’ve learned a lot about myself working this way.
At Pedestrian we also do a lot of internal work to look at how we operate as individuals, and I have discovered that I am really adaptable, which again has really helped me in my career, and I’m good at getting things done.
Did you always want a career in the media industry?
Absolutely not, I did always think I was going to be an actor, even though that dream honestly feels like a lifetime ago now!
The funny thing is, I actually come from an advertising family. I remember thinking that advertising just wasn’t creative enough for me and it wasn’t where I wanted to be. However, it just kept on pulling me back and I do now feel like this is where I am meant to be and I really do love it now.
It’s like it was written in the stars for you!
I know! My brother is the same, he works in advertising as well now, so I think we might just be born to do it.
What makes working at Pedestrian different from other media outlets?
So, honestly I don’t want to sound like I’m part of a cult, but Pedestrian is really a great place to work and I really do think we hire just the best people.
I have been with the business for about five and a half years now, and prior to that I was only expecting to stay for a year so that really says something!
Pedestrian Group includes Pedestrian TV, VICE, refinery29, The Chainsaw, Gizmodo, Kotaku, and Lifehacker, so there’s just such a wealth of audiences that we are in conversation with daily. We are all about unfiltered creativity, so all of our roles are creative and collaborative, and we also operate as an inhouse creative agency.
We are really just obsessed with our audience and we try to make sure that we cater all of our content to our respective audiences, so we go through endless research, data, and analysis, as well as just listening to our audience because we do really care.
What is your favourite aspect of video production?
There is never a boring day at work, there’s always so much variety in what you get to do and the people you get to meet, but ultimately it all boils down to storytelling.
The different stories we get to tell and the different ways we get to tell them, whether it's a long-form documentary on VICE to a quick 30-second comedic video on Kotaku. As human beings storytelling is something that we have been doing since literally forever, and I love that there are just so many different ways we can tell a story.
What is a commonly held belief of your job that you disagree with?
The idea that travel shoots are relaxing!
The amount of times that I have come back from a big travel shoot and literally people would ask me, “how was your holiday?” even though I was working the whole time!
I feel so lucky and I don’t take for granted that I am able to travel and meet so many amazing people throughout my career, but it’s a hard job.
What has been your most memorable experience in your entire career, so far?
Oh my goodness, so in 2019 I produced a campaign for BWS. It was called ‘The World’s Biggest Beer Run’ and the whole concept was that we were travelling around with an egotistical actor and then somebody from BWS, and they were travelling around the world to create ‘the world’s rarest six-pack’.
So we visited breweries in Japan, Bhutan, Germany, Italy, Poland, and Mexico and did it all in six weeks and essentially created a mini web series.
That’s probably one of the most Australian things I’ve ever heard.
It was incredible and such an experience! We had a tiny, tiny crew; there was me and my director of photography, that was it.
It was really, really hard work but the concept and the content in the end was just fantastic and just a really rewarding experience.
What makes online and digital journalism so unique to you?
Look, the digital advertising space is very saturated and it’s an ever-changing landscape, so this means that you are always learning and there is never a boring day at work. But it also means that it is so imperative to keep up to date with audience behaviours and create content that cuts through everything else.
People literally live and breathe on the internet these days, which means that people can spot bullshit from a mile away. I love that we get constant feedback from our audiences and we always want to ensure that we have a very authentic voice.
You have to be willing to adapt, and adapt fast. You need to go where your audience is, and not have the hope that they will come to you.
I love that digital journalism is constantly evolving, and so who knows what it will look like in five to ten years! It’s very exciting, but it can be a bit scary.
Finally, what are your pitching preferences?
I do dabble in organic content and working with the editorial team so my door is always open, so long as it’s relevant to our audience.
I’m happy for people to email me and see what it is they have to offer.