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  • Writer's pictureMarina Plummer

My Digital Safe year on.

I started My Digital Safe Space just over a year ago, and since then have produced an impressive two posts…

With a WHOLE YEAR to catch up on. Here are my 12 biggest learnings about the industry, as well as myself over the last 12 months.

Lesson no. 1 - Being relevant and reactive to the news has never been more important

When lockdown hit, we had a number of campaigns set to launch that just weren’t getting the cut-through they needed due to the saturation of articles around COVID, and the fact that they had absolutely no relevance to what was going on in the world.

We quickly learnt that campaigns that take a few weeks to produce, could easily become outdated in the fast-paced and ever changing climate we were and are continuing to live in.

Whilst we did look out for reactive opportunities with the media before, we seriously scaled this up at Kaizen and it’s completely transformed our offerings to current and potential clients. Our turnaround time for campaigns became much quicker, as we favoured blogs and listicles with expert comments over static and interactive content. The most simple ideas, with next to no budget saw us getting coverage on nationals, top international press and really relevant publications to our specific client.

Since then, we offer clients more time for reactive work to get instant results, and it has become embedded in our client offering.

Lesson no. 2 - Static and interactive content aren’t all the rage they used to be...(IMO!)

When I first started in digital PR, I was used to following rigid structures of producing static and interactive campaigns for clients. Blog posts and listicles weren’t a thing, as we all focussed on those 4-6 week turnaround times for production. I also found journalists using our designs WAY more three years ago than they do today.

Nowadays, my favourite campaign format at the moment is a blog, with a lovely table built into the page (not a data visual!). This simple data visualisation supported by copy gives the journalist exactly what they need nice and quickly, and has been really successful for our team over the last 12 months. It halves the time and focuses on what we are brilliant at doing….get our clients out there to the world!

Don’t get me wrong, I love an incredible visual and creative campaign and definitely think there is a place and need for it for particular types of content. But I don’t think we need design for the sake of design. The story is what matters.

Lesson no. 3 - Sometimes you have to be tough as a manager

I’ve been a manager for over 15 months now and have gone from managing just one person to a team of 7, all of whom I have still never met #COVID

I have always found it hard to be stern and the thought of having a tough conversation with an employee used to make my stomach churn. Now, whilst I still find it hard at times, I’ve realised that having tough conversations is all a part of being a manager and wanting the people you’re managing to progress as much as they can.

Sometimes it’s ok to give some tough love when your intentions are to better the people you love and the company you work for.

Since giving more feedback and growing in confidence, I've seen only good things from my team as they have all stepped up and absolutely boss what they do every single day.

Lesson no. 4 - Back yourself

This is a lesson I’ve learnt and continue to learn since starting in the industry and if I say so myself, the transformation is significant. When I first started, I’d be nervous to speak out and express any indignations I had. Now, if something isn’t right, or someone is not being fair, I am confident to defend myself or a situation. We work hard as digital pr's and marketers, we wear many hats, and I have no time for those that choose not to regard that.

Back yo’ self hunnies.

Lesson no. 5 - Try those campaigns you always see being spoken about

Whether it’s a dream job campaign or germ experiment, you will only learn by doing. For the first time in the last 12 months, I’ve done both of these campaigns, and other iconic formats that we all know and love.

Doing these first hand was a HUGE learning curve not only for me but everyone involved. Now we have more of these planned and I feel SO much more prepared for them. Now I’ve done them, I also know how to better them and really make them stand out.

Lesson no. 6 - Everything will always be ok

I think this is a lesson we all learn and forget at times when we are at the peak of our stress levels. But really, everything will be ok. Seriously, I'll say it again. Everything will be ok.

When a client drops a bombshell, or isn’t happy for some reason, previously I would have thought the world might as well have stopped spinning because how could life go on?

Turns out, it can and it does. And yes, sometimes we fuck up, but sometimes it’s not all our fault or our fault at all. The main thing is we pick ourselves up, do what we can to resolve it, and in a few hours time you won’t even be thinking about it.

Lesson no. 7 - You’re doing a great job

Agency life if RELENTLESS. We wear so many hats, we juggle so many clients, we come up with so many ideas, and we reach out to so many journalists persuading them to cover our story. It’s hard work.

If you’re feeling a bit crap, remind yourself that this job is actually really hard, and you are doing a brilliant job. If you weren’t, someone would have said by now.

Lesson no. 8 - Always make time in the week for outreach

For a month or two during lockdown, I was managing some of our most demanding clients at Kaizen, as well as also taking on two new starters to train and line manage. I kept putting outreach at the bottom of my list, so I could prioritise other areas of work, and it really had an impact.

Keeping up outreach is so important in keeping that constant eye on the news, on journalists, on the types of feedback you’re getting, and ultimately keeping you at the top of your game. I made a commitment to outreach at least a little bit every single week.

Plus, when you get a link you know you still got it.

Lesson no. 9 - Stop waiting until you’ve learnt enough to do something, just do it

This is one of the most recent pieces of advice I received from Kirsty Hulse, founder of Roar Training and absolute badass. One of my friends is setting up a new business and wants an insight into SEO. I reeled off some key things they need to think about, and have now found myself booked in for a video call to discuss things in more depth with them.

As a digital PR creative at heart, still learning about SEO, it’s safe to say that I shit myself. I felt MAJOR imposter syndrome and was going on to Kirsty about how the actual fuck I was going to help them.

Kirsty literally just told me to do it and learn as I go. I’ve got the call scheduled next week.

Lesson no. 10 - You’re most definitely going to fuck up in the future at some point, and that’s ok

It doesn’t matter if you’re in the job for a year or 10. Fucking up is inevitable. Embrace it, learn from it and don’t beat yourself up.

Lesson no.11 - Everyone should try CrossFit

During lockdown I’ve taken up CrossFit. I admit, the first time I tried it I threw up in my mouth, but it really is what has got me through the last 12 months. Not only have I lost a stone, but I feel strong.

CrossFit makes you feel fucking invincible. It is a mental strain as well as physical, and if you want to push yourself, lift so you feel like an absolute boss bitch, be part of a wider community that makes you even more motivated to do your job, I highly recommend it.

Lesson no. 12 - Keep learning from people that inspire you. Twitter for me is everything

Whether it’s a creative rut, or I’m looking for tips on outreach, we are so lucky to have an endless supply of inspiration on Twitter from the people that know the industry best. Engage on Twitter, show your personality, support others, and you’ll be well on your way to becoming a brilliant PR.

That's a wrap. Until next year...

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