career interview communications

Career Interview Series: Holly, Communications

After the success of our first interview post we’re delighted to bring you our newest instalment in the career series.  Our second interview is with Holly McLennan. Holly works as a Communications and Social Media Manager at Food Standards Scotland.

What did you study at uni?

BA (Hons) Communications with Public Relations, Robert Gordon University.

How did you secure your first full time job?

On graduating I did two weeks voluntary work experience at an international and integrated communications agency. They were impressed with my work and I was kept on full-time.

What is your current role?

I feel very privileged to hold the unique title of Communications and Social Media Manager as one of the first ‘specialists’ in an area that’s only to grow. It’s a brand new role from late 2015. Everything from the guidelines and rules to the objectives and my job description have been made from scratch.

Can you tell me about some of the main differences between agency and in-house work?

The main difference I’ve noticed is pace. An agency can have potential to overwhelm with the amount of work. It’s unpredictable from day-to-day. However, I’ve found working in communications to be busy regardless. With in-house, rightly or wrongly, you’re much closer to the organisational objectives and developments. I’m also now entrusted with passwords to manage our online channels. This is brilliant for measuring the success of our communications efforts using analytics.

What role does digital marketing have in your job?

It’s paramount. You cannot get away from the fact that everything needs to be online today if it’s to have impact with a broad range of stakeholders. There’s a lot of noise online. Establishing content rich marketing materials and also utilising paid-for tools to reach your target audience is very important.

Can you tell us what a typical day at work looks like for you?

1 – Scanning news. Before I even get out of bed I open up my BBC News App and read the headlines. Aside from being a news junkie, I do this to scan for any stories that effect the organisation I work for and could lead to new opportunities.

2 – Department meetings. As a Communications and Social Media Manager I will typically have meetings with various departments to establish where our content strategy can support them, then I will feed these discussions into my social media content plan for the week.

3 – Campaign content. I work closely with the marketing segment of our C&M team on creative digital campaigns. This involves anything from creating landing pages for competitions to establishing the best paid-for content. Consumers and the media will also reach-out to us via our online platforms so queries here will also need to be dealt with.

What advice would you give to someone thinking of a similar career?

Start off in an agency. It may not pay as much, and yes, you will see the early hours of the morning on more than one occasion but the learning and development it gives you is second to none. The lovely thing about agency as well is that if you develop an interest in a different aspect of the industry you can often bounce around departments. For example – you may have started in PR but ended up in Digital.

Anything you’d like to add?

Digital Marketers have to be very smart & targeted now because there’s simply so much content out there. I’ve recently been very impressed by the Facebook’s ‘native’ advertising which appears to look like a really interesting piece of content (which it is) but it’s essentially an advert – an ad in disguise whatever next?

Thank you Holly for giving us an insight in to your career and highlighting the difference between in-house and agency work. We look forward to seeing your work in the future! You can keep up with Holly over on LinkedIn & Twitter.

If you’re interested in learning more about digital marketing jobs don’t forget to keep checking back for our next career interview post.

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