I have decided to add a new category to the blog for guest posts: Local Profiles.
This isn’t to save me writing posts (honest) but rather to highlight the industry PROs that I look up to (and follow like a virtual stalker on social media). Like most people, I love reading about the career trajectories and industry views of PROs, but it can be difficult to find interviews with Northern Ireland-based professionals and even harder to find them all in one place.
Well look no further!
Most of the people you’ll see featured over the coming weeks I am yet to meet in person (one of the pros/cons of the digital age, whichever way you look at it!) but I hope to meet them soon. What does stand out for me is the open and friendly nature of almost everyone I’ve approached, cold-contacting in some cases, and their enthusiasm and support for the blog and the idea of inspiring others and sharing their knowledge. If ever there was an argument against the “bad name” and personality traits the industry is too often associated with, then this little exercise is it.
Today’s interview is with a budding digital whiz kid who posts some really interesting insights on policy communications and PR on Twitter (@themightykai) and has now made the natural progression to blogging. Working in the digital marketing sphere for a local agency, Lucas McCartney gives a great insight into how to make yourself known and carve a career for yourself in the first few years post-study.
Hey Lucas! So how did you get where you are today?
Hardwork and networking – I’m fresh out of university but over the past two years I networked as much as I could. Attending events while studying for my Masters and did internships to get experience. It was a long slog but it paid off. Students spend too much time applying for advertised internships! Don’t worry about that, approach companies and inquire you’d be surprised how many would be willing to take you on – showing initiative and your face will get you far.
It’s a shame to say, but because the communications industry in Northern Ireland is so close knit – it’s 75% who you know and 25% what you know. Coming from a public affairs and social media background I tried to brand myself as ‘themightykai’ through Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIN. Get yourself well known enough by face and name and the rest will follow. It will open doors for you, especially when you have something to add to the debate or a company!
What three tips would you offer someone just starting out?
-In my experience getting to know those in the industry is the best way to learn about it. The more you get involved in events the more doors you might open for yourself!
2.Get signed up to social media platforms
-Social media is the way to go! And companies are in need of tech savvy individuals who know how to promote their companies online. Along with real world networking, social media is a great way to promote yourself as an informer in any area you may have an interest in.
(It’s really important!)
What’s a typical week like in your role? (If no week is typical, then what was last week like?)
Busy! Usually I’m planning for digital campaigns and running analysis on current ones! It can get monotonous, but seeing the results at the end always rewards your efforts! Day-to-day it’s different enough though and always interesting!
What has changed for the better and worse since you started in the industry?
Underhand tactics! Digital is all about natural growth and engagement. I can see some competitors buying their Likes and follows! It’s frustrating to see that and knowing that clients fall for it is even worse.
For better: I have to say the amount of companies popping up is really good to see! The industry in NI is close knit and it’s always good to see more people coming in! While some may see competition I see friends and colleagues!
If you were hiring for an entry-level position, what would make a candidate stand out?
Personality and experience. Honestly grades aren’t everything, being average in academia but showing passion and personality for the things you do really shines I think. Experience comes through the candidates own initiative to get up off their backside and do things!
What is your proudest moment to date?
I’d have two, my first would be achieving a great deal of success in a clients social media campaign and increasing overall traffic from social referrals by 230%.
My second while not exactly a moment is more a series of moments. Working in public affairs can be very rewarding. The feeling you get, making that small bit of difference to the lives of a clients constituency or organization is one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever felt.
When you switch off (if you switch off!) what do you do with your own time?
I love to read, I’ve just finished the Game of Thrones series (can’t wait for the next book) and I’ve followed on reading some fantasy and political books! If you ever have the time try and read 7 Years in Tibet, superb travel book!”
So there you have it, a brief insight into the world of “the mighty kai” – if you liked his style, you can keep up with his musings over at politicokai.wordpress.com
There’ll be more interviews to come but do get in touch if there’s someone you’d love to hear about!