As a trainee journalist, I learnt early that catchy headlines can make or break my content. While the differences between digital and print media continue to widen, headline-writing continues to be one of the most important aspects of copywriting. But besides setting the tone for the story that follows, a majority of headlines concerning the same issue reflecting similar views can already tell part of the story itself.
I have repeatedly found references to ‘the most entrepreneurial generation ever’ in titles when looking for the most common angles for stories on marketing to Millennials. This independent-minded generation, the largest and most influential group of consumers today, is already well-known for coming with its own set of values. It demands constant innovation, instant gratification, product transparency and uniqueness. Research on how to reach millennials has shown that personalisation holds the key to their engagement, ’What does this brand say about me?’ is the core concern, and ‘Make it fast but keep it real’, the main demand. This is an interesting, refreshing, and ultimately defining moment in marketing, and one that I aim to be part of.
I moved to Portsmouth in 2011 to study Journalism and Media Studies. I was interested in the way people interact with stories and incorporate them into their own, and passionate about writing. My first love was investigate journalism, but I quickly learnt that I excelled in coursework that had a creative or expressive quality to it. Modules such as Press & PR and Editorial Design led me to reading Debbie Millman’s Brand Thinking and Other Noble Pursuits. It was my first encounter with rapidly-growing interests in marketing, branding and identity. I began to understand on a deeper level how, strictly speaking, brands do not exist; they are ideas in the mind of people who interact with them, and therefore branding is simply the process of attaching ideas to objects, services and organisations. Creating these associations, however, involves elements of design, creative writing, psychology, anthropology, advertising, public relations, semiotics, and strategy – all things that I am passionately curious about.
I left university to intern and work, focusing on studying successful marketing campaigns and implementing my ideas into my work where I could. I learnt the basics of digital, email and social media marketing, and worked across media databases, desktop publishing software, and email marketing tools. One of my favourite moments was reading about customer perception and target markets in order to create buyer personas to include in a marketing plan. When I compared this activity to my dissertation topic, the representation of humanitarian crises in the Western media, my interest in subliminal advertising, media psychology, and ultimately the way audiences respond to messages became, once again, obvious.
I’ve decided to return to the academic world and study developing brand awareness through conceptualising visions and translating them into the design and content of marketing tools, in order to shape a tone of voice and advance marketing communications. I aim to look beyond the attributes of products and services and create outstanding brand experiences for customers – with a focus on marketing to millennials, given their need to feel a connection to their preferred brands and my growing interest in the way we tend to use things as a way to identify ourselves and others. On the other hand, our rituals of consumption often seem unsatisfactory and empty of human relationships. This might explain why we like antiques or car boot sales, for example. I am curious about this gap between businesses and customers. I want to look at it from every angle.
But don’t let me forget writing, because I am a writer at heart first and foremost. My words sound better coming from my hands than from my mouth. It’s always been like this. My main goal, aside from living in the woods with a pack of friendly lap dogs and writing best sellers while sipping coffee all day, is related to content marketing. My first ever personal statement began with ‘I want to write, and I want to help.’ And years later, I still do. Journalism and marketing are just names – wooden boxes I pick my tools from. My heart is the engine. My mind is my engine. I am the engine. I can not wait to start again, and again, and again.