Head of Marketing and PR: Impression
Laura graduated in 2008 with a BSc in Social Psychology. Currently working at Impression, a digital marketing agency, she enjoys the innovative and creative nature of her work.
Human behaviour had always fascinated me. When I decided to go to university, I knew the way to make the most of that time was to do something that I was passionate about - even if I didn’t know what career I wanted it to lead to.
After some exploration of various psychology-based topics, Social Psychology became the clear choice for me, with its focus on the social influences that drive us to behave in certain ways. It was then a straightforward case of identifying the top universities for that subject - of which Loughborough was one!
On visiting the campus, I felt really comfortable. I liked the one campus style and the small town feel, while being close enough to Nottingham and Leicester to have the big city vibe when I wanted.
Loughborough University has played an integral role in my development, both professionally and personally.
On a professional level, being a member of such a prestigious university has been a great selling point on my CV. The opportunities made available to me as a student, such as work experience placements, and extra-curricular activities such as being a Student Ambassador, alongside the calibre of learning, have all helped to prepare me for the working world.
Personally, I found being part of such a large campus gave me access to a real sense of community and support across the whole student body. I still keep in touch with my uni housemates, with whom I meet at least twice a year.
Would there be one piece of advice that you would give to current or prospective students looking to study the same course that you did?
Do it! My top advice for anyone considering university at all is to choose a subject that you’re passionate about and that you’re going to enjoy applying yourself to for 3-4 years.
It can seem a daunting prospect because we often want to consider what job we’ll get with the degree, which is valid to an extent. But it’s also worth bearing in mind that having any degree, providing you apply yourself and do well, is an accolade and one which will strengthen your CV, even if the subject doesn’t seem 100% on point for your role.
The benefit of studying Social Psychology as I did is that it is quite an open topic. If you wanted to, you could go into a career in psychology.
But you could also explore outside of that, as I did; my career has spanned journalism, PR and marketing, throughout all of which I’ve been able to apply the direct principles of social psychology as well as what I learned about hard work and application.
Did you take part in any extra-curricular activities during your studies? If so, how did this impact upon your Loughborough experience?
I was part of two clubs at university; Fever (the circus skills club) and the Loughborough University Skydiving Club.
Through Fever, I learned to do ‘poi’ which is a form of dance involving spinning balls, which can be lit by LEDs or even by fire. It’s a really cool skill and one I like to pull out for parties whenever possible!
Through skydiving, I found a hobby about which I remain incredibly passionate. Since leaving university, I’ve completed well over 1,500 skydives and have no intention of stopping. I’ve competed nationally and internationally, met amazing friends and have even chosen to base myself here in the Midlands so I can continue to jump at the same skydiving centre, Skydive Langar, as I did at uni.
Skydiving has remained a core part of my social life - I wouldn’t have had that without going to Loughborough University.
I really appreciated the opportunities made available to me through Loughborough University and it’s for this reason that I have continued to stay in touch ever since, offering my time to help other students explore potential career paths.
Most recently, myself and a colleague ran a Digital Insights Day for Loughborough students which gave them an insight into the career paths we’d both taken, plus practical knowledge and skills in digital marketing to enhance their CVs.
So far, the experience has been really positive. I’ve even been approached by some students seeking work experience with my company and am in talks with them at the moment. We hope to provide more support in the future.
I started my career with aspirations to be a journalist. I wanted to tell stories and work with people, and having undertaken work experience as a PR Officer through the university, I knew it interested me. So I started with work experience at the Leicester Mercury, a local newspaper.
It became apparent to me that the journalism industry I expected to see wasn’t quite what I got; struggling economic times combined with a changing media landscape meant the role just wasn’t quite what I wanted anymore. But it did lead me to thinking about a career in PR, and again I took on some unpaid work experience with a PR agency.
I then found a web design agency seeking PR support and landed a job with them, as the sole PR professional. This meant I had a huge amount of autonomy to sculpt the role. I even had an impressive job title - Head of Content Engagement - which reflected my delivery of copywriting and PR tasks as a means to improving user interaction with websites.
It was here that I first learned about digital marketing and, more specifically, SEO (search engine optimisation). I spoke to my then boss and he agreed for me to start attending training courses and putting my time toward learning more about this practice of improving online visibility of websites in the Google search results, and this really spearheaded my career ever since.
My next move was to TUI Travel PLC, a global travel brand with whom I was lucky enough to land one of just 6 graduate placements from a pool of 1,800 applicants. I worked and lived across the world over 18 months, including Toronto, Seattle, Mexico and London, honing my business skills.
On completing the schema, I moved back to Nottingham, now my home, where I was the Digital Marketing Manager for a digital marketing agency. Three years later, and hungry for innovation and creativity, I joined Impression, which was, at the time, a start up at the very beginning of its own journey.
My role as Head of Marketing and PR comprises three main elements.
The first is that I am responsible for marketing the agency itself - from digital marketing techniques such as SEO and digital PR through to overseeing the PPC (paid advertising) work we do to implementing broader marketing strategies such as event organisation, awards entries, partnerships and a whole array of strategies design to broaden our audience and gain us new customers.
The second is that I head up our digital PR offering. This means I have a team of four PR professionals and am responsible for the positioning of that service area. This has been really exciting for me, being an area of digital marketing that’s still in its relative infancy and therefore giving me opportunities to sculpt the offering as I see fit, leaning on competitive knowledge, experience and expertise around the team to guide this.
The third is that I deliver work for my own portfolio of clients across SEO and PR. That means managing accounts, communicating with clients, setting strategies and doing the ‘doing’ that helps my clients’ websites to move up the Google search rankings and therefore for them to achieve their online marketing and wider business goals.
Amazing! We were absolutely thrilled to be named Best Large SEO Agency in Europe at the European Search Awards, having been named Best Small PPC Agency the year before.
For us, awards are never our reason for doing things - that’s more about delivering exceptional results for clients and building an exceptional team. But the awards nevertheless provide a real sense of achievement for me and the team, and give us more credibility as a brand which - as the marketing manager - I find to be a huge asset in gaining new customers as well as retaining those we already have.
In all honesty, it was a huge award to win but one I had total faith we could. The team at Impression is extraordinary in their drive to innovate, create and excel. I’ve never worked in a team like it and I’ve no doubt we’ll continue to achieve above and beyond even our own high ambitions well into the future.
The innovation and creativity. We pitch ourselves as a data driven agency and we do take a scientific approach in the sense that we underpin our decision making with proper insights taken from a huge amount of analysis.
But at the same time, every day is different and we’re always challenging ourselves to try something new - and being able to measure the results of that so tangibly means we’re all always developing as people at the same time as building an incredible agency that’s getting stronger all the time.
I currently have no plans to move away from Impression and am excited to continue to play a role in its growth.
We’ve always had ambitious aspirations and the coming years will be no different. Our core focus is on building a world-class team, as part of which we can excel and have fun too.
As the Head of Marketing & PR, I don’t anticipate my title changing any time soon, but am excited to continue to take on more responsibility and work with even more varied clients.
Two things come to mind.
The first was the European Search Awards win. That was just such a huge accolade and a humbling experience. I think I shocked myself with how much it impacted me! I’m incredibly proud of what we’ve built and it was amazing to have that recognised.
The other is speaking on stage at a highly prestigious event called Brighton SEO. It’s a conference I’d visited for many years and always thought it would be amazing to present on stage. When it happened, it was in front of an audience of 1,500 and it was exhilarating. It also helped to boost my own profile which was very cool.
Find out more about Impression's graduate scheme.