Career advice interview with Chris Lee, digital strategist and managing director at Planet Content. Chris is an expert in Public Relations, Digital Marketing and Social Media.
How did you get into your current career?
Totally by accident. My degree was European Studies and Spanish, the whole field of social media wasn’t even around when I graduated! I fell into public relations in the technology sector and, as that field evolved and social media and internet marketing came to the fore, so I became immersed in that field as I saw it was the way communications was moving.
Was it something you planned to do or did you get into it by chance or a series of events?
While it was pure chance that I started out in tech PR, my migration towards digital marketing, search marketing and social media was very deliberate as it was clear that was where the market was moving.
What attracted you to this career?
Technology PR is lucrative and fun, there are some great people in the industry. It moves really fast too.
Were you inspired or mentored by any particular individual(s)? Please indicate who and their role.
If I had to pick anyone individuals out from my 13 year career it would be Steve Earl and Stephen Waddington, now both of Speed Communications in London. I spent four years at their former agency Rainier PR and it was possibly the best fun I’ve had. Great team, great people who got great results, plus we won a host of awards. The agency culture is so important to its ultimate success and they certainly had a great balance, in my view. I still know those guys and they’re continually ahead of the rest of the PR market in their strategic thinking.
What advice would you give to people looking to begin a career in your area of expertise?
Read, learn and network (online and offline). Swap listening to music when you’re on the move to listening to useful podcasts, there are plenty out there. Blog to show you’re passionate about your career. Watch your “digital footprint” – what happens on Twitter stays on Google forever. Keep your LinkedIn profile up to date - you can never know too many people. Try not to make enemies – the industry is too small.
Which skills do you think will be the most useful/sought after in your field?
Digital knowledge is important, but be able to apply the practice of social media marketing with the wider marketing objectives of the companies you want to work for. Communication is key: some young people struggle with articulation, but it’s the key first impression when slender margins decide who will and won’t get the job. Be able to analyse data and understand how to apply stats to change strategies for the better.
Why did you decide to start blogging about your chosen area?
Blogging’s a crucial part of the learning process. You are articulating how you feel about your sector and at the same time demonstrating your passion for your field. People will disagree with you, but be gracious with them and take time to comment on other people’s posts, too. I’ve been blogging since 2005 (at Rainier PR we won “Best Business Blog 2007” from Communicators in Business) and blogs have always been a key part of my own marketing strategy to bring links, traffic and attention to my site. Companies that blog receive more traffic. Fact.
What 5 online resources would you suggest to our users in your area of expertise?
In social media the oracle is undoubtedly www.mashable.com
but I recommend people also sign up to www.socialmediaexaminer.com
for daily tips. www.seomoz.org
is important for SEO knowledge, its White Board Friday videos are especially useful. Also in search marketing sign up for the Internet Marketing Podcast at http://www.sitevisibility.co.uk/impodcast/.
I’m also a massive fan of www.econsultancy.com
for true expert insight.
Follow Chris on Twitter: http://twitter.com/cmrlee