Event report: How to Get Ahead in Digital Marketing & Advertising

Last week on 1st December we had our big digital marketing and advertising careers event – How to Get Ahead in Digital Marketing & Advertising – which we told you about in an earlier post, and many students made it through the Arctic weather conditions to come and find out about graduate careers in this growing sector from Manchester’s digital industry professionals.

We’re hoping to be able to put presentations and audio on our website soon for anyone who missed the event, but in the meantime two of the Careers Service’s student marketing interns, Jack and Kristina, attended the event. Here’s their report:


“How to Get Ahead in Digital Marketing & Advertising” was the question of the day, and the many speakers did a fantastic job of answering that and many more questions for the University of Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan University and the University of Salford students who braved the snow to attend the event, organised by The University of Manchester Careers Service. The afternoon began with a series of brief talks, all with a mixture of knowledge, practical advice and insights. Then students broke up and attended workshop sessions conducted by industry professional who gave an insight onto a part of digital media, how to get into it, or what their job actually entails.

Nicola Pike, of Marketing Spike, who had been working in digital marketing since the ‘beginning of the scene’ in 1998 gave the first talk of the day. Having had a lot of experience in client-side employment, the theme of her lecture was the benefits of working as the client. Ignoring the tension from the agency representatives in the room, she assured the audience that clients were able to see the bigger picture and had a real in-depth relationship with a particular brand, product or service. At the end she coyly added that clients have a more structured working day. In other words, no overtime.

As online marketing manager for Laterooms.com, Lucie Ellis also spoke from the viewpoint of a client. However, she highlighted the variety of client-side; there was no ‘typical day’ for her. Her top tips for aspiring marketing managers were simple: experience, interest and research. Experience should come from everywhere, not only large companies but also SMEs, of which there are many in the North West. At interview, an interest for the subject must be balanced with some research about the company; its values and the competition. In conclusion, Ellis added that you should stand out for all the right reasons by being natural, interesting and up for a laugh.

Digital creativity is the combination of media, creativity, technology and strategy, according to Joanne Hinchcliffe, who works for Manchester-based (but pan-European) agency, Amaze. All members of the agency have to think creatively to develop a better understanding of the consumer, and inventively select media and technology to compliment the goals of the organisation.

The final two talks were kindly given by Monica Cozma (Banc Media) and Mark Varley (MEC Global). Both described the reality of digital media from different viewpoints, Cozma choosing to focus upon SEO and PPC, whereas Varley took a broader approach stressing the importance of active communication. In contemporary marketing, one-way communication isn’t enough. With the advent of social networking, information is more freely available and the consumer is far more empowered than he or she once was. Varley, therefore, agreed with Hinchcliffe in emphasising the importance of understanding the customer.

Varley also talked to us about the value of the event itself, job prospects in and around Manchester and his predictions for the future in the industry. Given the tremendous growth of digital marketing in the North West, events like this are essential to universities, and companies, so that new talent can be discovered and developed. The most important thing in potential applicants is their attitude. In such a new and capricious industry, enthusiasm and passion are just as important as experience.

When asked whether Manchester and the North West were surpassing London as the creative capital of the UK, Mark was ambivalent, “London may still be seen, commercially, as the best in the country, but Manchester is a rapidly growing region. With the arrival of MediaCityUK, this is only going to improve.” Despite a perceived ‘brain drain’ to London there are still so many opportunities if you are willing to go out and get them. More importantly, “Northerners are returning home, and they’re passionate about trying to grow the sector.” So, students need to use Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin and company blogs (to name a few) to explore the hidden job market. But to get the job Varley suggested you need only one thing, an opinion. “Have an interest. It’s all about standing out positively.” The day ended with a series of talks ranging from insights into working in the industry through to practical ways to make oneself more employable.

The need to demonstrate your passion for the sector, and your ability to stand out amongst other graduates was echoed by the speakers during the workshops. Matt Hackett (Orchard) gave insights into making yourself employable. He highlighted the importance of tailoring your CV and researching the companies you’re interested in. More importantly he stressed that most entry-level positions were not advertised so students had to keep their finger on the pulse if they wanted to get into digital media.

Tom Mason (Delineo) spoke on managing your online profile. Mason gave an interesting insight into how employers have changed their habits when looking at CVs and how important it is to have an online brand for yourself if going into digital media. Tom has since written a really interesting blog post on the subject too:

This linked interestingly with Ifran Weldon’s workshop on importance of social media presence both for job applicants and for companies today. He covered the finer points of SEO and have an insight into how companies are changing their approach to work ‘with’ consumers, rather than ‘for’ them.

The event was a fantastic opportunity for students to get an in-depth insight into digital marketing and advertising, and the speakers were exceptional in giving up their time and knowledge.

Event report by Jack Coffin and Kristina Boneva

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