My mantra …the 2 Ps

I’ve had an amazing summer with my daughter – the 1st one ever that I haven’t been working.  But now as she settles into her new school and autumn is most definitely upon us I turn my thoughts to work…

It hasn’t exactly been the most productive year for me so over the next few months I’m muttering my daily mantra “PERSEVERANCE & POSITIVITY” as I knuckle down and reconnect with old work colleagues, attend networking events and apply for roles which have my name written all over it – (apparently not judging by the number of rejections I have had this year).  But as the-font-of-all-knowledge (i.e. my hubby) puts it; it’s a numbers game.  When he said this to me the other day it was like a slap round the face as I was licking my wounds about a rejection.  It pulled me up short but he’s true.  There’s work out there just for me but I’ve got to hunt (stalk?!) it down.

However I take heart form the article I read this morning on The Pool about a 48 year old mother being given an internship at The Spectator.  How awesome is that?  What’s even better they did not request a CV, name, age or qualifications but they recruited purely on a set of tasks the applicant had to execute.

So where does that leave me as I turn 48 this week too?  A friend of mine who used to be in recruitment suggested that I should dumb down my CV if I want to go for less senior, more hands-on roles but I’m not sure how I’m meant to pare back over 25 years experience. Or if I really want to…I don’t mind taking a step back but it’s finding the companies who are forward thinking about recruiting the right person with the best cultural fit irrespective of age, sex and background.

It’s going to be a tough gig but I’ll get there by by-passing the traditional recruitment agency route and and approaching growing brands and agencies where I see myself fitting in and who, in return, will hopefully see the benefit of my experience.

Wish me luck!

Perseverance, positivity, perseverance, positivity, perseverance, positivity, mutter, mutter mutter….

P.S If a recruiter thinks they can help me then I’m all ears


Personalisation vs Inspiration – what do we want from brands?

I started writing this blog a few days ago and it just wasn’t working for me.  I’ve been sitting on in it and ruminating and today I think it’s come together…amazing what watching a video on Facebook can do to inspire you. Read on…

Personalisation is a buzz word that so many brands are talking about and embracing and it’s great that they are taking the time to understand us as individuals and are marketing to us in this way. But do we really want “personalisation”? .   I admit there’s nothing nicer when somebody in a shop recognises you and knows your taste and style and Kat and Oz at Damsel in Chiswick are my go to girls for my wardrobe staples but I still like to explore and discover what else is out there  – even if I do come back to my fave brands. And we all want tips and advice from our friends – there am I saying I don’t particularly like personalisation but an hour later I’m asking friends advice on where to stay for October half term.  I haven’t got the time to wade through holiday brochures so let’s cut to the chase and ask those who we trust.  And in a way that’s what brands are trying to do – look at Boots who are now offering a personal skin solution “dermo-analyser in their larger stores.  Or Amazon with their selection based on previous purchases – although it can be quite random! And that’s great if sometimes you don’t have the time or inclination to shop around.

However, thinking about it on a personal level, for me it’s inspiration that help defines who I am, how I feel, my taste and style. A pinch of this, a sprinkle of that, a handful of wow and boom this is me.  And that’s how I felt this morning when I watched this Pharrell Williams video who was rendered speechless by Maggie Rogers – it energised and empowered me.  I want to show my own personality and have the opportunity to stumble upon items which I fall in love with – this could be anything from a mug, to a lampshade to a pair of shoes.  However easy and tempting it is to buy a complete look from one place; I want to reflect me. I like to be that little bit different.

Brands do recognise this but how far do they go in accepting that somebody is not going to buy their product every time and embrace this? Maybe they can work closely with opposing brands within (if feeling brave) or even outside their sector but which have a shared synergy to really show how they understand their customer?

So whilst personalisation is giving you more targeted ideas don’t be afraid to set out on your own and see what inspires you.

P.S. I hope you like the image – a sculpture of Josephine Baker by Alexander Calder.  I went to his retrospective at the Tate Modern and it blew me away.  I left grinning from ear to ear and so uplifted and inspired.


A curvy career path

I was delighted to read an article about a curvy career path on The Pool. I’m glad I’m not the only one who has had twists and turns in their career.  Although the backbone of mine has always been retail and lifestyle; it hasn’t been a natural path: from working on the shop floor at Majestic Wine (the best graduate job ever learning about wine!) to PR and communications, event management, marketing and most recently content marketing or contract publishing as it used to be called.

The funny thing is I thought that businesses would like my broad skill set offering an overarching view of markeing and business and yet it appears that it’s not always the case.  Recruitment consultants don’t know where to place me and roles seem to be getting more defined with a very specific skill set.  Is this not short-sighted or maybe, dare I say it, I’m too old and too expensive? I love to learn new things and embrace change so that shouldn’t be an issue and what I can offer is over 20 years of experience, team management and overcoming challenges. Surely that’s worth something?

I would love to think of myself as a multipotentialite as per Emily Wapnick’s inspiring Ted talk but I don’t think I’m that clever! However I do feel that it does describe my approach to work and how I thrive in my wiggly career path.  I think we should embrace our careers in whatever shape or form they take – one size definitely doesn’t fit all.

I’m up for another twist in my career – is anybody else up for the challenge?


Collaboration – now there’s a word.  I looked up the definition and it has 2 meanings: The action of working with someone to produce something and traitorous co-operation with an enemy. This gave me a wry smile as in agencyland we all try and work in harmony with all our clients’ rosters of agencies whilst in our heart of hearts we fiercely protect our patch of creativity and knowledge. Indeed Mark Given director of planning and proposition at Sainsbury’s had some harsh words to say at The Marketing Society at Advertising Week Europe. And funnily enough, in my experience I do think Sainsbury’s does a pretty good job encouraging their agencies to work together. Certainly it was the case when I worked on the Tu at Sainsbury’s account at Seven.

It is tricky though as some brand teams can be siloed; working in isolation without looking at the bigger picture and it does take a step change to encourage the channels owners to think and work differently. But here’s a thought…could a brand ask a creative and/or strategist from each of its agencies to come in-house to work on a specific project for a given time (for arguments sake they are paid a monthly retainer)? Let them be free from budgets and agency priorities to come up with a channel neutral idea. Work with the brand from the inside out. All the individuals have great minds and ideas and this would allow them to think, hopefully, bigger and better as a collaborative unit outside the confines of their day to day job.

Yet we can’t just blame our clients, we have to take responsibility too.  Agency lines are becoming increasing blurred as we tread on each others toes e.g. PR crosses over into content and social and back again; advertising touches on content and experiential agency work; content influences every channel and digital agencies broaden their remit to content, social and digital advertising.  And all our work is based on insight, measurement and customer behaviour.  So what can we do…

  1. Stick to what we do best.  By all means come up with ideas for other channels and share them but acknowledge that this isn’t necessarily your specialist subject
  2. Embrace ideas that other agencies have put forward.  Could they work for your strategy and channel?  If yes, great; if not, share the rationale as to why not
  3. Develop a better working relationship with the client’s agencies.  Really understand what makes them tick.  Be in touch regularly rather than just for client meetings particularly when working on a specific campaign.  How great for the client if we all have an understanding of each others strategies and ideas before the client meeting and hopefully in support too.  It will show
  4. Be open and honest and always look for a solution
  5. Be agile and adapt if a strategy or idea is favoured when it isn’t one of yours

What do you think? Do we really want collaboration or is it each agency for itself?

What is content marketing?

According to the CMI the definition of content marketing is:

“…is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”

I have to say I’m slightly confused myself.  I’ve been working in the industry for over 10 years with great content agencies like Seven and Redwood so this is the way I’ve always known…developing omni-channel content strategies for brands i.e. creating a story that works across every channel a brand uses to communicate with its audience whether it be an instore magazine, point of sale material, direct marketing, email, website and social.

Yet when I left the content agency world and started to see what else was out there, content seems to be something different.  From my perspective I find it has a narrower remit; content marketing feels like the preserve of social and has been borne out of PR and digital agencies.  This is by no means wrong as digital-first is the way to go but I feel it should have a more holistic approach.  The narrative needs to resonate with the customer at every touch point of their discovery and subsequent purchasing journey.  It doesn’t have to be exactly the same message but nuanced and tweaked according to the channel as long as it is recognisably the brand and is telling the right story at the right time to its target audience.