PROFILE: Alanna Carty, Discovery Networks Europe - Carty to tune into PR for Discovery Europe. Alanna Carty is set to re-cast the image of Discovery Networks Europe

Discovery Networks Europe, best-known for animal documentaries,

wants you to know that it is not just a repository for films about big

cats in the Kalahari. This week it began reshaping its image by bringing

back Mastermind, the cerebral quiz show best known for its ominous music

and black swivel-chair.

For DNE's newly appointed consumer marketing director and head of press

and PR, this is part of an ongoing reinvention. Alanna Carty already had

the marketing brief but is new to PR. Mastermind has given her a fair

bit to work with; sarcastic ex-barrister Clive Anderson has replaced

gruff but kind Magnus Magnusson as quizmaster. And fans should take

note: Plato, the pre-Raphaelites and the Napoleonic Wars are among the

chosen specialist subjects - but so are histories of the Eurovision Song

Contest and The Simpsons. That's some repositioning job.

The sort of sophisticated ex-BBC2 viewers who are happy to tune in for

the new Mastermind are set to have greater choice in content. The UK's

putative 2006 switch-off of the analogue signal will be a huge test of

strategy and nerve for networks such as Discovery. 'It'll be a challenge

for people like us, who have been in the business for a long time.

People who are, say, ten-years-old in 2006 won't have a terrestrial


Despite the fact DNE includes such channels as Health, Home & Leisure

and Kids, its consumers tend to be up-market men aged 35 and above.

'Discovery needs to be reinvigorated, and content is what people come to

you for,' she says. That content, evidently, will evolve.

Interactive TV was a long way off when Carty graduated from Plymouth

University in 1994. Her business degree was skewed towards personnel

management but she spoke German, and Walt Disney TV was looking at

launching channels in central Europe. She became an analyst in the

London research department, looking at product performance and revenue


She says: 'The number-crunching I found ironic; I never thought of

myself as a numbers person.' A desire to get into marketing led to her

departure from Disney. 'I wanted to be more of a front person,' she


She started at DNE in February 1997 as continental networks marketing

manager, handling B2B and B2C marketing. With markets emerging in

Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic, there was substantial virgin

territory while the impact of digital platforms and broadband internet

was also being felt.

In 2000 she was put in charge of the consumer marketing team while the

promotion of press and PR manager Liz Healy to a US-based international

role earlier this year left a gap that Carty jumped to fill. She is

disarmingly frank about her lack of PR experience. As she apparently

said to the PR team she inherited from Healy: 'I'm not a PR professional

- yet. But I will be.'

It is an interesting time to be learning the trade: interactive TV is at

a nascent stage. The BBC's interactive Wimbledon coverage this year

apparently angered some non-Sky digital viewers. Unaware the service was

not available to all, they were pressing their remote and accidentally

turning off their analogue sets. A government-led campaign of education

for the viewing public is needed, believes Carty. 'It will be almost

like a Channel 5 scenario,' she says. 'But eventually interactive will

be expected, like video.'

Maximising resources has been her priority so far, with the consumer

marketing and PR teams occupying the same space.

'The team has nearly doubled. There is a PRO for each brand. It is ideal

to have press, PR and marketing together: we're all speaking to

consumers.' The fluid movement of PROs between projects is her aim; a

hotdesking 'special area' has been set up in the London office. Meetings

between various interests have also become all-inclusive, with

advertising, PR and media planning agencies sitting down together with

the in-house team.

'By her own admission, she's not a PR person,' said Ed Staples, director

at The Red Consultancy, which does consumer work on Discovery Channel

and Discovery Animal Planet. 'But she seems to recognise the power of PR

and she's keen to learn. She's quite a risk-taker in terms of what she's

prepared to let us have a go at, to get beyond the TV listings


The 'incredible amount of travelling' of Carty's first Discovery job has

left her with an international network of friends and a continuing

wanderlust. She will be spending her 30th birthday in the Gambia in

January, while work still allows her to pursue an interest in Roman

history, with regular visits to Italy.

And in the meantime, she is broadening her scope. Having just bought a

'derelict' house in Ireland she will be glued to one of Discovery's new

programmes following a man who has done just that and is in the process

of doing it up. Carty says: 'DIY is not my strong point.' But like PR,

she obviously believes it will be.



Analyst, Walt Disney TV


Continental networks marketing manager, Discovery Networks Europe


Consumer marketing director, DNE


Cons. m'ing director/head of press and PR DNE

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