Branding: Skills, talent and the right attitude

As you probably know I run a digital marketing agency based in Bristol and Somerset.  Finding new recruits with the right skills, talent and attitude is challenging. In fact it is widely accepted amongst many digital media businesses in this region that recruitment is a nightmare.

Creating a platform for new talent to emerge, to be inspired, learn industry skills is the first step to solving a big problem.

With industry colleagues from Icon Films and supported by Aardman and other independent filmmakers and creative digital media companies in Somerset and Bristol, I set up Shepton Digital Arts Festival an industry showcase for the south west. This led me to Creative Skillset who were already tackling the problem head-on; from Government policy to engaging with education and businesses, to roll out a different training and education approach.

Investing in Potential: The apprentice question

I considered an apprentice for my company, but was apprehensive. They may need more support than we had time to provide and all hands count with a busy production schedule.

This all changed when I went to a Creative Skillset apprenticeship graduation showcase and heard from apprentices and most importantly their employers – employers like me. The stories were transformational. Employers said investing in someone’s potential was actually a big benefit to their business. This led us to take on our first apprentice. Taking industry ideas and practice into the training room

Creative Skillset focus on the end game, which is helping young people develop industry-based skills and find employment. They encourage training providers to work with businesses to ensure training is relevant to today’s work place.

So I found myself in the training room in front of a bunch of talented and bright apprentices last week. Working with apprentices from the BBC, Icon Films and other specialist Bristol businesses, my task was to talk about social media and I felt a buzz being in front of the next generation of creatives.

Social media is a big area to cover, there is the strategic marketing aspect, the technical aspect, and people have varying levels of understanding and experience. In my view, to embark on social media without understanding marketing principles is a non-starter. Using social media platforms in a business and media context needs an understanding of fundamental marketing principles.

Businesses also have varying levels of understanding of social media and marketing, knowing it’s important to engage with customers/audience online but not knowing how to go about it. Apprentices shouldn’t be tasked with the responsibility of social media marketing for their employers without guidance and a digital marketing plan to work to.

Understanding social media engagement with an audience is central to broadcasters and media companies delivering creative output; this is the digital game changer and where I started my session:

  • The businesses that succeed most in the future will be those who offer a complete and seamless experience across devices and platforms.
  • All growth driven by the creative sector is digital

My feeling was that if these apprentices understand the power and importance of the digital game changer and online engagement it would help them enormously as they also develop their other technical and creative skills.

My job as a trainer was to help the apprentices see social media slightly differently and start to pin this down to how they could apply this knowledge practically in their professional lives. Therefore the digital revolution needed to be understood, but for audience engagement to work marketing principles come into play, so my session was about marketing as well as social media.

So working through:

  • The digital game changer
  • Marketing view – how does it look digitally?
  • Creating a digital marketing plan – from vision to delivery
  • Web presence
  • Blogging
  • E-marketing
  • Social media tools/platforms
  • Goals and measure – web metrics

The students were asked to apply social media marketing to creating and presenting themselves as a Me-Brand. A Me-Brand is how you present yourself across the social media platforms, to represent what you stand for and where you want to be in your professional career, giving your employer a positive reflection at the same time. Thinking about your audience and being strategic is key. This is why a digital marketing plan is necessary.

My session was as interactive as possible and involved the groups own experiences. My intention was to take the apprentices on a journey from why do I need to think about social media and the digital game changer to how do I use social media in my professional career? I think this is a small but significant step to learn as the apprentices develop technical skills in the digital creative industry.

Claire Sully is a strategic marketing professional, MD of Bristol-based digital marketing agency Tickbox and has run industry training sessions for creative and digital media apprentices. You can find Claire @clairedesully

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