“Building Your Personal PR Strategy” – Insights with Naomi Chatterley
“Building Your Personal PR Strategy – Naomi Chatterley – Marketing Consultant & Director of The Marketing Partners – Shares Industry Tips on How to Build Your Marketing Career with Impact and Influence”
When I first started out as a 21 year old, super enthusiastic, idealistic (and looking back, fairly naïve) graduate…. I don’t think I had honestly given a great deal of thought to where I wanted to be in my career in five, ten or twenty years time. I was just excited to have landed a job in ‘marketing’.
Additionally, despite having marketing qualifications galore, until I got out into the real working world, I was totally clueless! I had absolutely no concept of how vast the role and scope of a marketer really is within an organisation (never mind the myriad of specialist disciplines within the marketing-verse). Nobody had told me that as a client-side full mix marketer, your job is largely to roll your sleeves up and to get involved in whatever needs doing to ‘make things happen’. You are essentially a professional problem solver, and no task is beneath you. And that applies whether you are working for a small family business or a massive Plc!
I also think back then, that, (as embarrassing as this is to admit now), success for me would have looked like ‘how long until I can become a manager?’ If you are managing a lot of people you must be good at what you do right? (Oh how very wrong I was!).
Also back then we were just starting to see the tide turning on the concept of ‘a job for life’. It was the advent of a new attitude to career, and for marketers it became acceptable to expect to ‘give it your all’ in a role for four to five years or so and then expect to move upwards or onwards to progress your career.
I look at young people coming into the world of marketing now, and it must be mind boggling to work out how best to get ahead, when technology advances on a daily basis, and therefore expectations are higher than ever. Plus there are so many mixed messages from the media and society as to the ‘right’ ways to progress ones career. For example behaviour seen on ‘The Apprentice’ couldn’t be more polarised from the work ethics of the Simon Sinek’s and Bill Gates of this world.
I’m not particularly special, I’m definitely not perfect, and I know I’ve made (a lot) of mistakes throughout my career journey. But I love what I do and fast forward 20 years, and, with my last role as Marketing Director for a FTSE 250 corporate in the construction industry, I’m now launching my own marketing services business in partnership with my good friend and agency side work colleague of 12 years.
I never dreamed I’d be where I am right now, and on reflection I’d say I’m here due to a mixture of graft, sense of humour, tenacity, learning a lot of life/work lessons the hard way (because I can be a tiny bit stubborn), the love of variety and bringing about positive change, the occasional bit of creative flair (some might say madness), and a lot of luck.
I’ve worked with some exceptionally inspirational people and I’ve worked with some real egocentric and toxic people too. The one thing I can say with certainty about the marketing world is that it will always be massively challenging.
Even more so these days because everyone is a consumer, so everyone thinks they are a marketer too. All you can be consistently, is yourself, and work every day to be a better version of yourself.
None of us are born perfect with innate knowledge of how to be the best. We learn as we go. The key thing is to stay humble enough to take the learning from those lessons (wherever and whoever they come from) to improve and be better ‘next time’.
So I hope that some of the tips below – a few of which, I admit, I also learned the hard way too – might reassure the next generation that sticking to certain principles, no matter what is thrown at them, will always see them right. In the end it was these attitudes and behaviours that I looked for in my teams and the people I worked with.
A ‘Can Do’ Attitude
There is no such thing as ‘that’s not my job’. First and foremost in marketing you are a problem solver. It’s your ability to keep calm, keep spinning half a dozen plates at the same time, and coming up with creative ways to overcome obstacles that will get you noticed. If you approach every day with that attitude your peers and team leaders will soon notice it.
Not Being Afraid To Ask
Nobody likes to admit when they don’t know or understand something, especially when they feel they should. However, there is nothing worse than pretending you understand something when you d
on’t…. because you will get found out!
There is nothing wrong with asking for clarification or for tips on where to find out more information about the thing you don’t understand. Asking a question doesn’t make you look stupid, it makes you look interested. And people will always respond well to you being interested and eager to learn.
Never Give Up
It’s easy to throw the towel in when you’ve work
ed hard on a project that isn’t going as well as you’d have liked. The key is to quickly identify what isn’t working and come up with alternative solutions. After all marketing is all about trying new things, reviewing whether they work, doing more of the things that do and throwing out the things that don’t. It’s all a constant measure and review process and tenacity is the name of the game. You only really fail when you give up trying…. or you don’t try doing anything at all.
Make Your Line Managers Life As Easy As Possible
No – this does not mean doing your line managers job for them. Nor does it mean your line manager gets to dump all the tasks they don’t want to do on you either. A manager’s role is to mentor and develop you so that you can be the best version of you.
Having said that though, you can still help yourself to shine in your manager’s eyes, particularly when it comes to problem solving and resourcefulness.
In marketing you need to very quickly learn how to figure things out for yourself. If you expect to be told how to do everything all of the time then you are going to struggle. Marketers are expected to be curious, to fact find, to be creative, self-motivated with a healthy supply of common sense. It’s one thing to ask
questions, but if you are constantly just wanting your line manager to just give you the answer and do the thinking for you…then that is an entirely different kettle of fish and will wear thin very quickly. Be organised, learn to anticipate challenges before they even become challenges, and most importantly think for yourself.
Always Have A Number Of Solutions Available
If you hit an obstacle or something goes wrong with a project you are working on, don’t just deliver the bad news to your line manager and leave it at that in the hope that they will magic up a solution.
Instead, work to come up with a number of possible solutions and work around’s – even if they each have their own pros and con’s. Then you can present the problem and the alternatives to your line manager at the same time, and together you can decide on the best alternative. This presents you as well prepared, proactive and collaborative. All excellent qualities that will help you get ahead.
Don’t Do Drama
An unfortunate side effect of social media is that we get used to over-sharing everything about our lives with the rest of the world 24/7. However, do not fall into this trap at work. Most work colleagues really don’t want to know or care about the argument you had with your partner over the weekend. Most people just want to get on with the business of work when they are at work, and you don’t want a reputation for wasting your time and other people’s valuable time on things that are best kept in your personal life!
Don’t Get Sucked Into Other Peoples Drama
I’m not saying work should be such a militant place that you can’t be empathetic and considerate towards your colleagues. However, don’t get so involved in someone else’s negative personal work or life related drama’s that it becomes to your detriment. This especially applies whether it’s someone who reports into you, or someone you report into. It can be tough as you spend a lot of time with work colleagues, and you naturally build relationships. But be mindful of the boundaries. Negative people can become real energy vampires to naturally positive people, and you don’t want to be dealing with that, because more often than not it’s the positive energy givers that suffer.
Don’t Use Excuses
Sorry to break it to you but real life is not an X factor audition especially at work. You don’t get extra points because you’ve got a ‘back story’ or you are ‘on a journey’ or because your elderly hamsters dream is to see you land that pay rise within 18 months of you starting a job. It takes time and hard work to build a good reputation, so get your head down and just get on with it. Hard work will always pay off.
Don’t Do Gossip
Keep your own counsel. It’s tempting to get involved but office gossip is ugly and destructive and when you get a reputation for being a gossip in the workplace – people do notice and will think twice about trusting you with confidential information of any kind – including business information. This can be very career limiting indeed!
Have Integrity And Stick To Your Principles
Without Integrity you have nothing. It’s so easy to get pulled in to office politics. Don’t do it. To be trusted is everything. Have principles – no one should ever sway you from these to their own advantage. Often your gut will quickly tell you when something isn’t right about a situation. And when you find yourself in that situation, find someone more senior than you that you trust and discreetly ask advice on how best to handle things. It can be tough keeping your integrity – especially when those around you might not be displaying it. But stick with your principles – I promise it will get noticed for the right reasons and stand you in good stead!
Learn From Your Mistakes
There is no shame in failing or getting something wrong if you can demonstrate that you have learned the lesson and grown from it and become better for it. (Obviously don’t just keep repeating the same mistakes though – that is not acceptable). Experience trumps all the fancy qualifications in the world. But experience is borne out of a lot of times (and more often than not a lot of things) that initially went wrong. It’s how you deal with the failure that makes you stand out to your peers and managers!
Experience Is Everything
By it’s very definition experience comes with time. You may want to start seeing an immediate impact of your work from day one of your first marketing role. And you should always strive to make positive change and make an impact – but don’t be disheartened if you aren’t single handily revolutionising your company straightaway. Despite all the data available to us these days, marketers still have to make decisions based on their experience (because unfortunately crystal ball’s aren’t real). Again, follow the tips above and you will gain that crucial experience that will see you quickly fast-tracked into positions where you can make a real impact very quickly.
The Only Person Really Responsible For You – Is You!
Life is stressful. That is a fact. Accept it. The speed we are expected to work these days, and the technology that allows us to do it is not going to go away…. it’s probably only going to get harder.
Now the good news is that it gives us more freedom in the way, locations and times we choose to work…. but expectations will always be high. The pressure will always be on – especially in marketing.
So it is no-ones responsibility but yours to ensure you are fit for work physically and emotionally. Self-care in and out of work should come first – because if you don’t have your health you don’t have anything. A good manager will do everything they can to help you manage your workload effectively – but it is your responsibility to flag when you need that extra bit of help and guidance.
The above qualities are all attributes I learned to value and looked for in both myself and the people I employed to work for me over the last 20 years. In many cases I wish someone had told me many of these things back at the beginning…but then you often only learn these things for yourself by getting it wrong yourself first.
However, if any of these things resonates with anyone reading this who is starting out in the world of marketing then it has been worth the time and often cringe-worthy self-reflection in writing this blog! I wish all young marketers out there all the best and that you love what you do even half as much as I have love it.
Here’s to what comes next, for all of us. Because I can guarantee that there will always be, and, should always be, more to learn… in the evolution of ones personal brand.
Notes to Editors
Naomi Chatterley is Director of The Marketing Partners which has launched this year January 2019.Contact at Naomi@the-marketing-partners.co.uk or 07738 114 775