Embracing Marketing Mistakes

How to Engage Northern Marketers

April 02, 2024 Prohibition PR Season 1 Episode 27
How to Engage Northern Marketers
Embracing Marketing Mistakes
More Info
Embracing Marketing Mistakes
How to Engage Northern Marketers
Apr 02, 2024 Season 1 Episode 27
Prohibition PR

Ever wondered how to catch the eye of a marketer with your marketing? That's exactly what we try to unravel with Natalie Davidson from Prolific North, the digital powerhouse steering through the currents of non-London agency growth. Together, we peel back the curtain on the vibrant explosion of creativity in the North of England, where agencies are rewriting the playbook with authenticity and bold storytelling. Natalie reveals the strategic manoeuvres behind Prolific North's rebranding success and how they're mastering the art of engaging with a savvy demographic on social media.

Strap in as we navigate the evolving landscape of the northern UK marketing industry, where cities from Birmingham to Scotland are capturing the attention of major brands with their untapped creative potential. 

Rounding off our exciting episode with a touch of glamour and camaraderie, we venture behind the scenes of industry awards and the pivotal role they play in fostering a sense of community. We share a laugh over event planning escapades and the growth of Prolific North's LinkedIn community, while showing the power of customer engagement and original content in the marketing space. Tune in for stories of perseverance, humour, and invaluable insights that will arm you with the knowledge to navigate the marketing mayhem, whether you're part of a small team or leading the charge on innovative strategies.
 

X: @ProlificNorth

LinkedIn: /prolificnorth

Instagram: @prolific_north

Website: prolificnorth.co.uk

Would you like to know if your social media and content strategy is perfect for this year? Book a free 15-minute brand discovery call here with Chris, and we will help you grow your brand today. And if you like the show, please leave us a review, or even just a thumbs up. It is very much appreciated - we want your feedback.

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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Ever wondered how to catch the eye of a marketer with your marketing? That's exactly what we try to unravel with Natalie Davidson from Prolific North, the digital powerhouse steering through the currents of non-London agency growth. Together, we peel back the curtain on the vibrant explosion of creativity in the North of England, where agencies are rewriting the playbook with authenticity and bold storytelling. Natalie reveals the strategic manoeuvres behind Prolific North's rebranding success and how they're mastering the art of engaging with a savvy demographic on social media.

Strap in as we navigate the evolving landscape of the northern UK marketing industry, where cities from Birmingham to Scotland are capturing the attention of major brands with their untapped creative potential. 

Rounding off our exciting episode with a touch of glamour and camaraderie, we venture behind the scenes of industry awards and the pivotal role they play in fostering a sense of community. We share a laugh over event planning escapades and the growth of Prolific North's LinkedIn community, while showing the power of customer engagement and original content in the marketing space. Tune in for stories of perseverance, humour, and invaluable insights that will arm you with the knowledge to navigate the marketing mayhem, whether you're part of a small team or leading the charge on innovative strategies.
 

X: @ProlificNorth

LinkedIn: /prolificnorth

Instagram: @prolific_north

Website: prolificnorth.co.uk

Would you like to know if your social media and content strategy is perfect for this year? Book a free 15-minute brand discovery call here with Chris, and we will help you grow your brand today. And if you like the show, please leave us a review, or even just a thumbs up. It is very much appreciated - we want your feedback.

Follow Chris Norton:
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TikTok
LinkedIn

Follow Will Ockenden:
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LinkedIn

Follow The Show:
X
TikTok
YouTube

Speaker 2:

Welcome to Socially Unacceptable. From F***ups to Fame, the marketing podcast that celebrates the professional mishaps, mistakes and misjudgements, while delivering valuable marketing and life lessons in the time it takes you to eat your lunch.

Speaker 3:

What really excites me is the fact that people, brands, people who have need of agencies are realising that they don't just have to go to London, that there is like so much incredible talent up here, and that's only growing more.

Speaker 4:

What was the most popular story on Prolific North in 2023 then?

Speaker 3:

What does really well for us is obviously agency wins, acquisitions, senior appointments. Like people want to know people want to stay informed. What do you want from us, like how can we help you raise your profile and shout about your skills and your creativity? What content do you want to hear from us? So I think it's kind of a two-way street. It's just having that really open, honest communication with your customers and your audience, and then that's how you're going to stay relevant because you're going to always be meeting their needs.

Speaker 4:

Hi, welcome back to Socially Inacceptable. This week it's me and my business partner, as always, william Ockenden, and today we're joined by the marketing manager at Prolific North, which is a marketing magazine which covers all the way up from the Midlands to the top of Scotland. I think you're going to enjoy this episode because this week we're discussing marketing to the most difficult audience of all you marketers, and Natalie has some fascinating insights on this, on what creatives are doing and what they want. So, as always, sit back and let's hear how you can market to marketers. Welcome back to Socially Unacceptable. This week we've got the lovely Natalie Davidson joining me and William in the studio. Natalie is the marketing manager at Prolific North, who do an amazing job of marketing to you marketers. Welcome to the show.

Speaker 3:

Thank you very much for having me.

Speaker 4:

So why don't you tell us a little bit about what you do? Well, tell us a little bit. For those that aren't familiar with Prolific North, what is it and who's it aimed at?

Speaker 3:

No problem, clues in the title. We are based in the north of England, we are an independent news publishing and events company and basically everything we are doing is aimed at informing, connecting and celebrating the digital tech and marketing sectors in the North and the fantastic things that are happening up here. We do that through our daily newsletter, through our website and through a very hefty, busy program of awards and events throughout the year, working with tech startups, founders and fantastic agencies like yourself and so.

Speaker 4:

I mean yeah, because I read it every day. I've just registered it and used it.

Speaker 3:

That makes me happy.

Speaker 4:

How many marketing people are reading this every day?

Speaker 3:

So we have about 23K daily newsletter subscribers, 32K email subscribers every day. We've got about a 38k social media following, which is actually one of our biggest growing channels.

Speaker 4:

Okay, which one LinkedIn.

Speaker 3:

Right, okay, interesting, but we just launched Instagram in June, which I know makes us sound like we're really behind the times, but that's another story.

Speaker 4:

So, and there's been a rebrand hasn. So how did you, how did you get to working for Prolific North and what have you seen change while you've been there? And what? What was this? What was the rebrand all about?

Speaker 3:

So I started working there in March 2022 so I'm coming up on two years now and the rebrand it was kind of a bit of a natural evolvement of like the different things that we were doing. We were moving much more online, socials were growing massively. Our website needed just a big refresh, so we decided that we would do all of that at the same time, just because, you know, we're not busy enough and that kind of it just came about of wanting the brand to kind of grow up a little and be a bit more shaped towards the kind of digital side of things that we were doing and just to make it a bit more fun.

Speaker 1:

I think we'll dig in in a moment to some of the specifics of that rebrand, because in pre-show we were just talking about the challenges of sort of marketing yourself to a demanding audience, and I can't imagine there is a more demanding audience than marketers oh yeah, yeah, which which must be a challenge, and we'll talk about that in a sec.

Speaker 1:

But, um, what's the state of the kind of the northern marketing industries then at the moment? Then you've obviously been there a couple of years, you've you've got a good view of it. You know, 2024, what, what's happening in the market, how healthy is it? Is there there real is? There you know where are the pockets of innovation.

Speaker 4:

And when he says the North, where are we talking about as well? Where does it cover?

Speaker 3:

So we cover Yorkshire and the Humber, the Northeast and the Northwest.

Speaker 4:

Okay.

Speaker 3:

So basically, up to about Scotland, down to about Birmingham.

Speaker 4:

Right, okay.

Speaker 3:

But that might be that might be changing in the future. We're looking to expand our territory a little bit, but that's a bit of a trade secret for now.

Speaker 1:

Okay, is that an exclusive? We'll push you on that later.

Speaker 3:

Say no more.

Speaker 1:

So go on. Yeah, what's the state of the market then, in terms of the marketing industries from Birmingham to Scotland?

Speaker 3:

I think everyone would agree it's been like 2023 was a pretty tough year for a lot of people. I mean, we've seen some fantastic agencies have to shut their doors and that's something that's really hard to watch and look at all this incredible talent. But personally, from what I'm speaking to people and what I'm thinking, I think it's a bit more hopeful this year. Not going to lie, it is still going to be tough, but I do think there is definitely space for more creativity, more exciting projects, and what really excites me is the fact that people, brands, people who have need of agencies are realizing that they don't just have to go to London, that there is like so much incredible talent up here and that's only growing more, especially if you see the likes of like big brands who are actually starting to plot second headquarters up here.

Speaker 1:

so I think I'm hopeful and excited for this year and what sort of um sort of sub-regional variations are you seeing, then? I mean speaking as a leads agency inevitably there's a huge amount of rivalry. I don't know why there just is. With manchester, um, probably birmingham looks up at the north and thinks, um god, we're better than them, you know, are you seeing pockets of innovation or pockets of brilliant creativity? Without wishing to upset any of our listeners, god, you really put me on the spot, absolutely.

Speaker 3:

I mean, I live in manchester, but doesn't mean I'm biased, because I did used to live in leeds. Um, oh, I'm gonna sound like I'm sitting on the fence here, but I mean honestly that there is a massive pocket of creativity across the board in leedseds. I mean, there's a lot of PR agencies like yourself in.

Speaker 3:

Leeds, manchester, there's a lot of really exciting creative studios as well opening up. But actually, what's really interesting in Liverpool? There's like a really thriving, interesting tech and gaming hub there. So there's like lots of these really interesting little pockets across the board.

Speaker 4:

I noticed there's only a couple of PR agencies in Liverpool, so I'm quite shocked that there's. But it's great to hear as well that there is a big Because it's a big city. Liverpool, it's a great city Got the best football club in the world Eurovision, eurovision, yeah.

Speaker 3:

There is like a new, I can't remember. I think it's called. I'll have to Google the name of the platform. Let me Google the name of it, but Rach, our deputy editor, went and there's a new kind of like, basically mini creative tech hub in Wakefield. So there's like all these really interesting like pockets within pockets. But I think the thing that I've noticed maybe Irish people being quite similar to Northerners is we don't tend to shout about ourselves enough. So that's what we're here to do.

Speaker 1:

Yeah that's an interesting point and I think we you know there is this kind of element of you know. You look at a city like Leeds major PR degrees there is this kind of brain drain. There's a view that you have to go to London to earn your stripes Whereas actually there's a huge amount of great agencies right up here in the north. And you mentioned the idea of kind of the alternative to London. It feels like we've been talking about that forever, doesn't?

Speaker 4:

it.

Speaker 1:

Are you thinking that's starting to gain a?

Speaker 4:

bit of traction now. We always say that, though, because London's always going to be the biggest urban centre in the UK, but you're right, it has changed with the movement of Channel 4 to Leeds and the BBC to Salford.

Speaker 1:

There's several creative powerhouses in Manchester, will's right yeah, and I suppose remote working to a degree shows brands that there is an alternative. Exactly but ultimately, the big brands are always going to go with. Well, not always. Nine times out of ten they're going to look for. You know, if Unilever are doing a global PR pitch, they're going to probably end up working with the London agency aren't they?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, which is unfortunate, because my personal opinion is what I've seen from the agencies that we work with day in, day out is the difference is the agencies up here. I think sometimes there's a bit more bravery, a bit more creativity, fighting against the grade and just like unfiltered honesty and just authenticity, and I think, as more brands strive for that, that is where the north will do very well and I think from our perspective, chris.

Speaker 1:

Um, you know, if you look at the kind of those differences, as a northern agency, you have to work that bit harder and you have to be that little bit more creative, don't you? You can't, you can't just kind of rest on your laurels and trade off your reputation as being based in the capital, can you?

Speaker 4:

well, I mean, I'm never going to say I worked in london for five years and they. They're the big agents. I went to work in an international international pr agency at the beginning because I wanted really good quality experience and I had to go to london for that because I always felt well. Even though I did my pr degree in leeds I I felt that the marketing and the brands are all in London.

Speaker 4:

That has changed a lot because, there was only three or four agencies up here back in the early 1800s when I got my degree, and it's all changed. It has changed. Now, like you say, manchester's become a powerhouse. There's some great, great brands and and agencies out there, uh, but london's always going to have the, the big guys, the ketchums, the h and k's, isn't it? So it's so, and it people always do negate and go go to the urban area of london, because that's where all the publishing houses are, the media. The media houses are, um, but the North has got its own take on things. So, yeah, but I do think we, to answer your question, will not rambling too much.

Speaker 4:

I do think we have to work harder, but the London agencies are bigger and they can be more specific. So, working in our sector, they might just do media relations and public relations, whereas in Manchesterchester, newcastle and leeds you um you, you've got pr agencies that will do all the all the different things and a bit, are a bit more integrated because they have to be, they have to offer services that their customers are going to buy, whereas in london there's all different agencies for all different things. So you just pr, just a dpr campaign, wouldn't you?

Speaker 1:

so what's the message for our listeners? Then, Don't automatically go to London shop around in the North.

Speaker 4:

I think. Choose who's right for you. If you want to work in London, that's fine.

Speaker 3:

And there is merit to it. I mean you work bloody hard. It's hard work down there. I mean it's hard up here too, but just don't think that you have to like exactly what you said. Just shop around a bit and and actually do your research and find somewhere that is going to fit you and what you want to achieve, and don't assume that you need to leave we actually worked with an agency in sheffield a few years ago called uber um, a guy called greg there and they actually did.

Speaker 1:

We'll have to share it in the show notes. They did a really cool sort of spoof video about this idea of um uh, clients automatically going to going to London and they've got some great stories about that, but we'll share it is that it was a really a really successful campaign just to get clients to kind of reconsider. Let's get a bit practical then. So obviously and I touched on this a minute ago you know you've been really heavily involved in this kind of rebrand of Prolific North as it's evolved. Now a lot of our listeners will be involved in rebrands and involved in marketing strategies, but I doubt many of them have got customers or an audience as demanding as you which is sophisticated by and large marketers. So how do you go about that? You know what is it. You know how do you stay relevant and innovative when your audience is so fast moving and so demanding?

Speaker 3:

That's the beauty of our audience being so innovative and fast moving is we talk to them all the time. That's the only way we're going to stay relevant. So, by talking to you guys and talking to other agencies, what do you want from us, like, how can we help you raise your profile and shout about your skills and your creativity? What content do you want to hear from us? So I think it's kind of a two-way street. It's just having that really open, honest communication with your customers and your audience, and then that's how you're going to stay relevant, because you're going to always be meeting their needs. A big part for us is always making sure that we are aligning our goals to what the goals of our audience are as well. So we're here to solve problems and we're here to help.

Speaker 4:

What was the most popular story on Prolific North in 2023 then?

Speaker 3:

You know there's a really weird look at this every week in our editorial meeting and bizarrely, there's this BBC salaries story that comes up like every year Really Quite. What does really well for us is obviously agency wins, acquisitionsitions, senior appointments like people want to know people want to stay informed, but it's. It's typically stuff where people hear about their own community and other agencies. Well, I think there's probably a bit of competitive rivalry. I'm sure there is a little bit keeping an eye on the competition, but that's what we're here to do.

Speaker 1:

We're here to keep everyone informed and connect everyone so what you're talking about there, um is, is customer understanding, isn't it? And I think a lot of people forget to do that. We actually had a guest recently, katie Tucker, who wrote a book, a fantastic book, called Do Penguins Eat Peaches, and that was all about customer understanding and the fact that, no matter how big or small your company, you need to understand and speak to your customers, and so many people forget to do that. So that's, I mean, as you've showed, that's a really, um, really effective way of of just staying in line with what they want from you, isn't it?

Speaker 3:

yeah, absolutely. Here's a question do penguins actually eat peaches? Because I need to know now.

Speaker 4:

It was a random random title and she did admit that and I actually thought she said I could have just called it customer understanding understanding your customers, but that's great that's more interesting. Now I want to pick up the book because I want to know I think, yeah, it's like that, um, the art of not giving a fuck, isn't it that book?

Speaker 3:

yeah everybody.

Speaker 4:

And then there's there's different ones of that. It's just an appealing title that makes you want to pick it up, which I, which I do like I got that book for christmas and accidentally left it around um. Is that because you didn't give a fuck with my 10 year old kids.

Speaker 1:

Uh, picking it up and asking what the title meant, which was a little bit of a fuck-up, you could say.

Speaker 4:

There we go, one for the pod.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, absolutely Okay. What role I mean? You've talked about kind of community and I get it. You know we are talking about a marketing community here, aren't you? Everybody knows everybody. But from Prolific North's perspective, how important is creating your own community through social media, through email newsletters. Is that a part of your marketing approach?

Speaker 3:

It's hugely important for us. I mean, LinkedIn is probably one of our biggest growing channels. We've got just shy of 17,000 followers now. I think when I started we had less than 14. So it's like steadily increasing and we've put a lot of time and effort into actually engaging with people on there rather than just passively posting out lots of content. We spend a lot of time there because that's where we learn, that's where we connect with people and we've seen LinkedIn isn't just for posting news or posting stuff. It's actually for starting conversations. Most of the connections I've met now in person in Manchester have been because we started chatting on LinkedIn.

Speaker 4:

Didn't we start chatting on LinkedIn? We did yeah, there you go.

Speaker 3:

See, it's the way forward, yeah.

Speaker 1:

LinkedIn's a great channel, isn't it? So what's your approach then? Because a lot of when we speak with brands, we always say, look, social media should be about the social. It's not just about standing on your soapbox and shouting, it's about engaging and having those conversations. So what's your approach and tactics to actually, I guess, getting that, you know, fostering that sense of community on linkedin? What do you actually do?

Speaker 3:

we spend a lot of time finding what kind of content worked in the last year or so, and for us on linkedin, what works really well is things about our events, awards that people can share and actively get involved with Interesting stories Like.

Speaker 3:

Our editorial team work really hard on a lot of original content as well, not just news. We do a lot of deep dive investigative pieces. Our deputy editor, rachel, has done some really amazing pieces around neurodiversity in the marketing industry and how to approach that, that equality and diversity just loads of different things. So we find, by opening up those conversations on LinkedIn and asking people to like contribute to things, that's been massive for us. Asking people what they want to hear, events like just putting out some feelers, that's been massive for us. But we've done a lot of work on crafting that kind of celebratory element of what prolific north is all about and that's what what really resonates, I think, with people here, like a chance to shout about achievements, to connect with people and to like celebrate their work and what sort of events have you awards now have you got, because we little plug for Prohibition here but we've won Best PR Agency at Prolific North in two years, over a number of times, there's four.

Speaker 1:

Very good awards do, actually. Yeah, it's a good quality event. It's highly competitive, isn't it?

Speaker 4:

It is I was quite shocked.

Speaker 3:

We won to be honest, you're a top 50 PR agent. Yeah, no, yeah, yeah.

Speaker 4:

Another little plug there, that's good that prolific North, because nobody was doing that. The list of the top.

Speaker 1:

PR agencies. We're number nine now, number eight or number nine, is it I?

Speaker 3:

don't know. You are definitely top 10. We were top 10.

Speaker 4:

I think we were nine, but yeah, 2023 was a tough year.

Speaker 3:

So we've got four awards in 2024. Uh, the biggest one, which is in May, is our champions awards, which is kind of like it's like the mother of all of the other awards, it's like the overarching one, and that covers digital tech, creative and marketing sectors and that's really about less celebrating specific campaigns but more about teams and organizations who are thriving, growing, doing amazing things, expanding outwards. That's in May. That's just a shameless plug. By the way, the entries are not open. We've got our newest awards, our creative awards, which is something that we started last year. Speaking to loads of creative agencies who were saying there isn't really like the most obvious, like unifying awards. You know there are other awards are available which we won't talk about them to really celebrate the kind of creative angle.

Speaker 3:

So that's in June and that's really about production, animation, copywriting, campaign, creative work, bravery, advertising.

Speaker 4:

When we were at your awards obviously they had the videos and some of the creative video campaigns and Will and I were blown away like video. We've got a great video team here. Just just a plug to the guys looking at us um, but honestly, some of the tv ads that the the, the guys in manchester, particularly some, some of them were absolutely brilliant and they're amazing.

Speaker 3:

The quality of work was was really high yeah, and that's like again, that's just what we're here to do is just to really like elevate those, those amazing campaigns and ideas that people are having. People don't know that. That's like a northern agency that's done that. And we've also got our tech awards and our marketing awards, which are I shouldn't play favorites, but obviously those are my people, so they're. Always. We put a lot of time and effort into our awards and we particularly put so much effort into making sure that they are independently judged. There's a lot of I think there's a lot of like rightly so a bit of negative back chat about awards. You know there are some awards where I've had agencies tell me that it's been hinted if they buy a table, they'll get a trophy, and sorry, we don't actually make it that easy for you.

Speaker 4:

Well, I can say that never, I've never had that. The only thing that we've ever had is we sometimes get Will and I will get an email and it'll say congratulations, you're an outstanding public relations agency, you're doing astounding work. You've won international blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Pay £ pounds and get a double page spread and a front cover and you'll feature as that. And I'm always like no, what that's not, that's just. You're just looking for some advertising, aren't you just?

Speaker 4:

to say you can say they basically just look at your website, see if you've won awards, so you're pretty good, and then offer you.

Speaker 3:

So that's the other end of it so but sales us pitch Masquerading as a trophy, exactly.

Speaker 4:

And your awards aren't like that. We didn't know we were going to win at either time. Similarly, we've been to the PR Moment Awards, which are in Manchester, and we didn't win. Oh yeah, we got one, didn't we? That's right, isn't it? Yeah, there's one over there, yeah. I was just making sure that we did yeah, we did yeah, but that's hugely competitive for our sector as well, but both really good quality events.

Speaker 4:

I suppose, with it being a tough last 18 months. I'd say awards people might have a bit of awards there's the COVID and then there's hybrid awards and then awards have come back Awards apathy. Yeah, it's a bit of like fatigue, I'd say. It's like we've just bowed out of entering some in January because we entered three sets last year and we won loads.

Speaker 3:

But it's just money and time and effort into other things like recording amazing podcasts you know what I mean it is and it does take time to craft like a quality award entry, but for us I think our kind of focus is always on having those really fantastic independent judges. So for us it's the idea behind it is that one you get to put your work in front of some incredible people, like we've got judges from Formula One, from Corn Foods, from McCann World Group, you know, just from some really great brands and agencies. Get your work, especially if you're a small, growing agency that's trying to establish a reputation. Get your work in front of these people, elevate your profile, meet loads of new people, because the night itself is a really good opportunity to network and connect with people and have a flipping good time while you do it, it's a piss-up.

Speaker 4:

Basically it is yeah, it's good fun, it's a structured piss-up.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, it is, yeah, but we work really hard to make sure that there are opportunities there for people to connect, and that's part of it as well. So, yeah, I completely get the whole awards apathy, but I think personally it's really worth it to take the time to selectively enter the awards that are going to give you the most bang for your buck.

Speaker 4:

So what do you do in your day-to-day job then?

Speaker 3:

That's a really good question. I don't know. I do know.

Speaker 1:

Podcasting clearly.

Speaker 3:

Podcasting? I don't know about that.

Speaker 4:

This is your first one, isn't it? It is yeah, it is Welcome, Might be my last, who knows.

Speaker 3:

My job essentially is to keep all of the campaign plates spinning, to protect and grow our brand, to make sure that the content that we are putting out there is interesting and engaging for our audience and ultimately delivers the commercial objectives for the business. So we are a really small team of two. In our marketing team I have a, an amazing coordinator and two two, there's only two of you, yeah, wow yeah, okay, I'm not busy.

Speaker 3:

Um, so that my day-to-day covers everything from approving and editing social for the next few weeks, campaign plans for all of the events, website development, a bit of IT support occasionally although I'm the worst person who should be nominated for that because I break things Keeping an eye on all of our analytics and reporting, like reporting back to our management team and working with my boss around event content, like what's coming up, speaking to agencies. So it's a little bit of everything.

Speaker 1:

It's a really busy but really interesting varied role because there isn't just one thing so I've got a question on that, so people will be listening and hopefully that'll be resonating with some of our listeners who, who are extremely busy. A million and one things to do. They've probably got a team of two or three. So how on earth do you focus your time and effort? You know you've got really specific targets, haven't you, in terms of what, what marketing has to achieve. Yeah, where do you focus your time? Because anyone in marketing knows you could. You could do everything, couldn't you?

Speaker 3:

and you could work for 10 years and not get it all done yeah, that's a really good question and it is really hard when you're a small team and as a generalist. You essentially walk around feeling like you need to know a little bit of everything and you end up if you're me or probably a lot of your listeners feeling like you don't know enough about anything. So the thing I've learned, kind of the hard way the last couple of years, is to just ruthlessly prioritize what is important to your business and your team. So look at where your audience is, what channels are working for you, and do those well, rather than trying to do everything like slightly half-arsed because you're going to burn yourself out and you're not going to do as good a job. So find where your audience is, focus on those channels, consistently work at improving them and the rest will take care of itself.

Speaker 4:

What amazes me is you just said there, like you sat there thinking, oh, I'm doing all these different things, all these different tasks, analytics and but, and I'm not, I'm not, um, I'm not becoming a specialist in a really tight area, but you're actually talking to specialists in marketing areas all the time at all these events. So that is rubbing off. It's definitely going to rub off on your experience, isn't it?

Speaker 3:

yeah, and that is um. One of the biggest joys of my job is that we get to speak to so many different specialists and experts and that has really helped me massively like making connections and making new friends with people who are specialists, especially if you are in a small team. That's another thing I would say is find people outside your team who can, who can be like a completely objective opinion or a shoulder to cry on if you need it.

Speaker 3:

But it's leaning on those specialisms, learning what you can and seeing how you can bring that back. You don't have to know everything you couldn't your brain would explode.

Speaker 4:

So if you were to meet um Natalie of another Natalie. She's down in Newcastle, I don't know. She's up in Newcastle and she's in a marketing team of four people what. What sort of advice would? And she's like, she's like you, she's really busy, she's frantic and she's there's three or four of what hot tips have you got for her to stay relevant and make sure that she's feeling like she's continually innovating in marketing? What tips would you have?

Speaker 3:

Use your data and your stats because they're going to tell you a lot about what's working and what's not. They also help give you the confidence and the credibility when you are trying to present your strategy to your team and get buy-in from senior management. Like you know and trust your own expertise, like you're in this job for a reason like, yes, you don't, you can't expect to be an expert in every facet of marketing. As I say, physically impossible, you can't do it. But what you can do is use the data that you've got in front of you and, again, as I say, like, just pick those channels that are really going to deliver commercial results and that resonate with your audience. Like if you're delivering comms and content that your audience are enjoying and that they're engaging with and that relate to your commercial goals and they deliver that.

Speaker 1:

Happy days, happy days so customer understanding absolutely key, and I think a lot of us probably don't do that as much as we should, ruthlessly sort of focusing our efforts and being where our audience are, rather than trying to be everywhere and using data just to focus in on those kind of commercial areas yep really helpful.

Speaker 3:

Okay, don't be so hard on yourself. I I have. I'm I've got such high standards for myself and I've i-crippling imposter syndrome like all day, every day, and one of the biggest things I've learned in the last sort of six months is to not let that get in the way of learning and being curious. So how?

Speaker 4:

do you learn? And be curious, because that is the key in creativity being curious, like I've worked in this job for 20 odd years God, I'm so old, but I'm subscribed to 15 podcasts. I engage with people, um, in the industry. We interview amazing people with experience. What, what, what do you do to to stay on top of the industry? Is it speaking to all these people at the events that you're going?

Speaker 3:

to yeah, I speak. That's what works for me personally, like that face-to-face interaction, those informal chats where you can just pick up nuggets. And the biggest thing I learned is to not be afraid to ask the questions. Nobody is going to judge you for, not for admitting that you don't know everything about everything, um, and actually, ironically, if you don't ask the questions, you're only hindering and you're perpetuating that cycle of thinking that you don't know anything it's a strangely analog approach, isn't it having conversations with people, I think?

Speaker 4:

a lot of us have forgotten that. It's crazy, Because we're supposed to know. People think we've got to know everything and you don't know everything.

Speaker 1:

You're right there, chris. It's, you know, the best marketers, the best comms people I've ever seen are those curious ones, and they're reading and they're listening to podcasts and they're a student of their craft. And you can never know it all, can you? And it's looking at an ad and, rather than just looking at it, it's looking at an ad and thinking why does that work? How is the insight playing out in that ad? And it's just constant curiosity, isn't it?

Speaker 4:

And nothing's better than an amazing campaign, no matter who it's by. Yeah, we've won awards for the campaigns that we've done, but it doesn't stop me admiring when I see an amazing campaign out there. You know amazing work, creativity and being curious key things in marketing, right? Well, so the show then the premise of the show Natalie, I don't know if you know. It's called From Fuck Ups to Fame, and I've made loads.

Speaker 1:

I've not really made any.

Speaker 4:

Will's basically made every single fucking show we've done, including interviewing somebody and saying what did you say?

Speaker 1:

Well, I got their name wrong, and I also got their company name wrong. It's their number one competitor, wasn't it?

Speaker 4:

The point of the show is to discuss things that have gone wrong, that you've done and you've learned from, because people out there, all the imposter syndrome, people like you're saying, the three who are working in brands, whether they're in agency or client side, they're all making mistakes and they're there to hear what other people have made. So come on, let's hear a few of yours.

Speaker 3:

Oh gosh, I've got plenty in the vault, so I've got well.

Speaker 3:

The first one, which was quite funny, is in a previous life, when I was still working in London. I was working as an event manager and every year we had this roadshow of events like across the country and, bearing in mind I was based in London, so there's about 30 odd events across the country in the space of about three weeks and one event manager, which was me, booking them all, organising all the logistics, catering, getting the content ready, getting the sales team ready, making sure like brochures and merch got delivered on time and a lot of them. We had two sessions, so a morning and an afternoon, and I was speaking to the venue and I was like, yeah, so for the afternoon session, they were like what afternoon session? And I realised I'd actually forgotten, completely forgotten, to book the afternoon session. And I realized I'd actually forgotten, completely forgotten, to book the afternoon session and there were 30 people signed up to come to this like round table and I just not booked it with the venue. Yeah, that was not a fun hour.

Speaker 1:

That's giving me anxiety just hearing about organising 30 events.

Speaker 3:

Super organised. I was like how the fuck have I done this?

Speaker 1:

And how did you get out of it, or did you not?

Speaker 3:

Thankfully, the venue were really really nice. We had a long standing relationship with them and I was like I just had to be really honest and I was like, guys, I've fucked up. I actually need the room for the afternoon and God love them, me and the event manager on site, we were like going back and forth for like an hour and bless, bless her. She worked so hard to kind of move other people out of different rooms so I could like cover it up and they didn't have, I think, the full catering staff on for the afternoon, so she had to like work out a special, a special schedule to like get me some sandwiches trip to prep?

Speaker 3:

yeah, exactly like literally almost that was what we were looking at. And then I just like, quietly, was briefing the sales director and I was like yeah, so, yeah, so the afternoon session's all taken care of as well, and I just never told anyone that I'd forgotten to do it. Until today that was a very close call.

Speaker 4:

And then there's another one when you set up an automatic reminder wasn't there, that was a good one, yeah, so this was at my current job, where I was on site. Are you listing readers of Prol prolific north?

Speaker 3:

not that I ever make mistakes, uh, but I was on site last year at digital city festival, which is one of our biggest events which will be happening again this year, and we had again. It was one of those things where it's like event at least one event every day and at the time I was actually on my own so I didn't have a coordinator. So I was doing everything and also helping the event manager and I'd set up in my foresight, thinking I was going to make my life easier, set up automatic reminders like for the whole week for different events, and I'd set the automatic reminder for the wrong day, so everybody who was coming to our event tomorrow got a reminder going we'll see you today. I was like and while I got notified of this, I was actually like running around- how many people is that that got that A hundred?

Speaker 3:

Yeah.

Speaker 4:

So I hate it. It's usually just as you're pressing send that you spot something like that.

Speaker 3:

Oh yeah, it had gone automatically and I was on site briefing speakers who were about to get on stage and someone had like showed me this and I was like oh dear god, and I couldn't stop briefing the speakers, so I actually couldn't physically get to my laptop for an hour to like do anything about it. Thank god nobody turned up on the wrong day because they'd had a previous reminder from me already right, and which you know. Maybe that's a good thing. Nobody's clearly reading my comms, so maybe that's a good thing. Nobody's clearly reading my comms, so maybe that is a good thing.

Speaker 1:

That was horrible. The events there can't be anything as stressful as organising events, and this is. I've got a story which we'll have to think. I'll have to be careful what I say here. We had a client from a few years ago. I'm not going to say what sector they're in. They got a celebrity, shall we say, to basically present at their awards. Do Middle-aged ex-sporting celebrity, we'll say Nice. Apparently he came on half-cut, wildly offended the entire crowd and then got caught in the car park doing coke. Oh, jesus Christ.

Speaker 4:

And apparently the board were absolutely fuming at what happened Caught by who who in the police.

Speaker 1:

No, basically, I think one of the senior team of the company, I think let's say it was the chief exec, or someone senior who shouldn't have seen him.

Speaker 4:

Saw him yeah.

Speaker 1:

And I think this individual.

Speaker 4:

What do you expect from a grade A?

Speaker 1:

celebrity.

Speaker 3:

This individual's. What sport I want to narrow this down, can't tell you.

Speaker 1:

Nice try sport. I want to narrow this down. Can't tell you the pr professionals kicked in. Now more than that but yeah, events they are, they are pretty stressed.

Speaker 3:

They're a lot of fun, especially the ones that we do, because I think the content's like super interesting, but they are so stressful and there's a myriad of things that could go wrong. And there's there's things as well, with events that are completely outside your control, but you still feel like it's it's your fault. I mean, it's not your guy's fault this guy was doing charlie in the car park but you know you're responsible for that event. Thankfully, we we have an incredible events team. There's two of them. I don't know how they manage it, but like they are, they are absolutely amazing.

Speaker 1:

So we do hold ourselves like a really high standard, and that's why I was probably so upset with myself because they'd done such a good job and I had one job which is just to tell everyone when to turn up you had one job, um, so okay with what are the most popular themes or topics when it comes to the I mean awards to one side, when you do webinars and events and things like that, are there certain themes that every you know?

Speaker 4:

yeah, that everyone signs up to get loads of ai for example, everyone's talking about ai.

Speaker 1:

You know, what else are people kind of interested in when it comes to to learning?

Speaker 3:

um, do you know what's really really interesting with the theme of this podcast? A lot of what we do, a lot of our events that are really popular are where it's a chance for people to connect and actually have like quite honest, unfiltered conversations. So the topic can be wide and varied. We've got an event coming up in february which is all about agencies looking to scale and grow, and it's from. We've got panelists from like drummond central, from former densu um, just talking about that journey of how to scale and sell an agency. I mean in it, but in a kind of safe space, and we do a series called founder fuck-ups as well, which is all for the tech industry and I think where did you get that idea from?

Speaker 4:

I have no idea founder fuck-ups, and what does that? That's for the tech sector, though, isn't it?

Speaker 3:

that is, and that again is that's for startups and entrepreneurs to kind of share their startup journeys, which, as you know, can be like fraught with so many stresses, ups and downs, like failures, successes, whole range of emotions, and for us, I think, the content that resonates is the, the content that is the most authentic and gives people an opportunity to actually like share, share experiences in a kind of yeah, a safe space, because there is that kind of really like especially with agencies, there's a lot of like, rivalry and competitiveness, but you get everyone in a room. Actually, everyone just gets on and they're going through a lot of the same challenges yeah, but that's the thing like you want.

Speaker 4:

You do? You want your top five competitors sat around a board table with you discussing like I mean, god, yeah, that'd be. That'd be an interesting conversation, wouldn't it? Well?

Speaker 1:

you're right about um sort of tech startups. We've had a few on the show actually who have talked to us about, you know their kind of pretty horrific stories actually of of of starting companies going through incredibly tough times, almost losing their house or losing all of their savings. So, yeah, um definitely, um, definitely a stressful area so what's the future for Prolific North then?

Speaker 4:

What are we looking at?

Speaker 3:

We've got a busy old year, so we've got the return of all four of our awards. We've got Digital City Festival coming up in April, which is a whole week of different events and content around the tech and digital sectors in the north. We are launching something very exciting in May for the marketing and digital creative sectors, which is a week-long kind of festival, if you will, of different events, which is something new for us. We are continuing to tell all the great stories from across the North. We're doing a lot more original content with our editorial team stories from across the north. We're doing a lot more, um, original content with our editorial team. We are growing our instagram, which is our little baby, our little baby social channel, which we launched in june.

Speaker 1:

Um, and we're just trying to focus on getting better and better what we do, delivering events that you guys want to come to and that matter do you want to let our listeners know where they can find out about you and where they can find out about prolific north, and why don't you give a shout out for the Instagram handle as well?

Speaker 3:

I will, let me get my.

Speaker 1:

You're going to have to check it.

Speaker 3:

So you can find us on prolificnorthcouk. That is our website. You can subscribe to our daily newsletter, if you want that, in your inbox every morning with your afternoon cup of tea. You can find us on LinkedIn. You can find us on Instagram, which is at Prolific North. You can find us on Twitter, whatever the hell you want to call it these days. That's a whole other podcast in and of itself we've talked about that endlessly, jesus.

Speaker 4:

We did a whole pod on that yep, so we are right there.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, find us, follow us, engage with us and give me a shout as well it's a brilliant title and we, we I read it every day just to see just stay on top of what's going on in the industry, you know, in the various sectors it does.

Speaker 4:

Obviously we're based in the north and if you're based in the south, not so much, but actually, um, are you going to move to, are you going to do prolific south? Is that a thing?

Speaker 3:

we did that once, we did a prolific lific London a few years ago. But I think for us our focus is on building on the community that we've got in the north and maybe creeping upwards a little bit or downwards a little bit expanding our territory a little bit that way.

Speaker 1:

Watch this space.

Speaker 3:

Watch this space indeed.

Speaker 4:

Well, thanks for coming on the show, Natalie. Thank you for having me, you've been a delight and thanks everybody for listening. If you a delight and um, thanks everybody for listening. Um, if you like the show, please click subscribe. We could do with every subscriber. Also will's on his own personal mission to find our furthest subscriber. So if you're based in peru or you're based in what's our furthest new zealand.

Speaker 1:

I think we've got. We've got one in new zealand australia, we've got.

Speaker 4:

We've got some in south america. So drop us a line and let us know where you are and we'll we you a shout out. So we'll see you in a couple of weeks. And thanks for listening. Thank you.

Speaker 2:

Thank you for listening to Socially Unacceptable. Please remember to subscribe to the podcast and leave us a five star review. Don't forget to follow us on social media on Instagram, tiktok and LinkedIn at Prohibition PR, and Twitter at Socially UA. We would love to hear some of your career fuck ups. We can share them on the show. For more information on the show, search Prohibition PR in your search engine and click on podcasts. Until next time, please keep pushing the boundaries and embracing the socially unacceptable.

Marketing to Marketers
State of Northern Marketing Industries
Building Community Through Industry Awards
Marketing and Learning From Mistakes
Natalie's F*ck Up
Event Planning and Industry Insights
Natalie's Email F*ck Up
Will's Client's F*ck Up