Marketing Manager Jamie Cant espouses the importance of hard work in this interview. Read on to hear how comms is often a matter of staying focused while spinning plates.
Why did you choose to pursue a role in communications? For example, has it always been your passion or was it pure happenstance?
It was pure coincidence in all honesty. I always wanted to be a footballer, so a career in anything else never entered my mind. When that didn’t work out and I was choosing a course for University, I remembered a module that I did in Year 11 Media Studies on film distribution. I remember it was one of the most interesting courses at school, looking at how films are promoted once they are made and the work involved in making the launch successful. Once at university, I focused more on how to make a career out of the subject that I found interesting, creating successful campaigns and creating engaging content.
What personal skills or attributes do you think are most important for a communications role? Why these skills/attributes in particular?
I always say that ultimately it comes down to hard work. There are so many tools available to us in marketing and comms, so it’s about finding which ones are the best for your current market. First and foremost, you need to understand your topic. Whether it’s a product or a service, you need to have a thorough understanding, or your market never will.
Secondly, you need to understand the market, in order to tailor your messaging accordingly. Why do they want to read your content? How will what you’re saying/promoting improve their situation?
That’s where the hard work comes in. The quicker you understand those two things, the more effective your communications will be.
What sort of challenges do you face in your role? Is there a particular challenge that you experienced in the past that stood out?
As marketing manager, the biggest challenge is to deal with the amount of projects, initiatives, and content there is at any one time. I was once asked in an interview to describe my role in three words. I used two: spinning plates.
One of the biggest tasks is to keep on top of the projects you’re running, whilst finding the time to analyse and be strategic. If you can master this, you can start to be creative with your messaging and create some really effective campaigns. That’s when the job becomes really fun!
How is the role of communications perceived in your organisation?
The perception of the department has evolved in recent years. It has always been seen as important, but many don’t fully understand how many areas of the business that the marketing and comms functions touch. That comes with education, but also creating a good internal communications plan to make sure other areas of the business are aware of everything you’re involved in.
What advice would you give to those at the start of their career in communications?
I think the best advice is to understand your organisation and its product or service first. In order to have a career in marketing and comms, you will already have the technical skills to succeed. But you won’t be able to maximise those skills without a good knowledge of your organisation.
Secondly, always be willing to learn. In most cases, your line managers will be on the same path as you, but further on. They are the best people to learn from. Look at what skills they have and list the gaps in your own experience. How can you bridge that gap? Speak to your line manager and create a development plan for how you can start gain more experience and bridge any skills gaps that you think you may have.
What do you think the secret of success is when working in communications?
Unfortunately, there is no secret formula. But good, old fashioned hard work will get you where you need to be, faster.
In addition, be analytical. Data will make your job a great deal easier. What works, what doesn’t work? How are your campaigns are performing against KPIs?
Not only be analytical of your work, be analytical of your own performance. By understanding what you do well and what you don’t do so well will give you the basis for a good development plan. If you can be better at your job than you were yesterday, you’re on the path to success.
We at React & Share live for helping communications teams through understanding website content sentiment and improving it off the back of feedback. How do you and your team approach content improvement?
It’s all about analysis. Analysis tells us which content topics are most popular, how long visitors spend on our content, which channels are most effective, and how visitors consume our content.
From that, you can start being strategic about your content and your campaigns. Good data leads to better analysis, which feeds better campaigns.