The SENOIR VICE PRESIDENT of SOCIAL MEDIA at VIACOM on living all over the world, why she loves NEW YORK, and how she balances WORK and HOME…
Originally from Mallow in Co Cork, Lydia Daly’s degree in international marketing meant she was primed to travel from the beginning of her career. “I worked in advertising initially, first in London, then Amsterdam and then Singapore,” she says. “In 2012, I decided to move to New York and luckily, the agency I was with at the time, JWT, was able to transfer me. About a year later, I was headhunted by Viacom for my current role.”
An early adopter of social media, Daly claims she “fell into” what is now a multi-million dollar industry. “It’s funny, because I only had a couple of years’ experience but that was still more than most other people.” At Viacom, she heads up the branded content division of what used to be a traditional television media company, which has successfully diversified. “Our brands, which include MTV, VH1, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon, have a combined 800m online followers and fans across Facebook, Twitter Instagram and Snapchat. If you represent a brand interested in reaching those people, one way is to co-create content with my team. To do this, we work with a lot of prominent social media influencers, including the most popular YouTube stars.”
The world of social media moves fast, so in order to keep up, Daly is always on the lookout for the next big trend. “I have to be one of the first people to join every new social media platform, even if it’s not one my peers would necessarily be on. That’s the only way you can fully understand them. Luckily I still really enjoy it.”
Although New York work culture is notoriously gruelling, Daly has managed to find balance. “In advertising, you’re expected to work long hours. It’s the same the world over and, of course, New York is no different. But at Viacom, the work/life balance is manageable, certainly at my level. Contrary to what many people think, family time is very much valued in the US. I have a 16-month-old son and most of my colleagues also have children. Of course I’m on email continuously, but I block off two hours every evening to spend with him. Between Memorial Day, typically at the end of May, and Labour Day, at the beginning of September, there is definitely a vacation mentality here.”
Having lived in New York for four years, the longest she’s ever stayed in one place, Daly and her British husband have officially put down roots. “When I moved here first, I lived in Manhattan, as most people do, but my husband and I have just bought an apartment in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. It feels more like a neighbourhood there; I walk around and bump into people I know and everyone seems to have babies and young children. I’m not quite ready to move to the suburbs though – I like to look at the city across the water.”
When she’s not at work, Daly has discovered there’s more to New York than urban living. “New York is a really huge state with lots to offer and there are gorgeous mountain ranges, like the Catskills, just a couple of hours away,” she says. “In winter, we often get together with other ex-pat friends and Airbnb a big house for the weekend in a pretty little town upstate like Woodstock or Beacon. You can also go a bit further north to Vermont to ski. In summer, everybody decamps to the Hamptons where there are so many different houses to rent and you can spend a gorgeous weekend at the beach. My favourite place to go is Montauk, a beautiful old seaside town that has some of the best restaurants I’ve ever been to. When we were looking for our apartment, we almost bought a house there instead. It’s a thing in New York that people often buy their vacation home first because apartments in the city are so expensive. I know it sounds weird, but it makes sense to New Yorkers!”
This article appeared in a previous issue, for more features like this, don’t miss our February issue, out Thursday, February 2.
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