Sunday, 18 October 2015

My top tips for a successful career in PR or marketing

It's scary to think about it, but I started my degree 21 years ago.

I was trained in PR, seems a bit funny saying it like that, but it's true.

I went to a former polytechnic, Leeds Metropolitan University, now renamed Leeds Beckett I think. The course as a result was deliberately vocational.

Anyway since graduating in 1998 I've spent the last 17 years in a variety of comms roles at Green Flag, Direct Line and Asda.

The land of the pocket tappers has never been dull.

Having started there back in 2002 initially looking after food and farming, I was lucky enough to take up roles including head of PR and head of social media.

More recently I've overseen marketing innovation, helping explore new revenue opportunities for Asda. That's included leading a team that has built a pipeline of new digital assets to unlock investment from FMCG brands who value having access to Asda's 18m households.

I've also overseen the transformation of's adserving capability, which in the coming months will enable Asda to become a credible media publisher.

And I've built Mum's Eye View on YouTube, capturing 11m views since launch in under 18 months.

I was asked by The Drum recently what keeps me awake at night. Truth is very little (other than my six year old), but the work thing I ponder about most in those quiet moments is how brands are going to make the transition from mass market, broadcast media, to targeted, content driven comms, but at the scale they need and crave.  No-one has cracked the nut yet.

In fact for many brands they are yet to embrace digital, let alone understand how to harness it.

The abyss is just round the corner, but by the time they wake up and realise they need to change it could be too late.

It's an old adage but you no longer need a digital strategy, your strategy needs to be fit for the digital age.

If you're reading this and just starting out on your career in PR or marketing, these are my top tips:

1. Never stop being inquisitive.

2. Network, network and network some more.

3. Be healthily paranoid that your assumptions could be wrong.

4. Take a chance once in a while, but be humble when it goes wrong.

5. Learn from your set backs.

6. Find a good mentor.

7. And then coach others in return.

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