Creative Lives — “It’s my job to make us famous” – 360i’s marketing manager Lauren Ingram talks press releases and power suits
When Lauren Ingram was deep into her linguistics degree, her sister sent her a card saying that her dissertation stress would be far behind her once she was ‘running a marketing department’ at a reputable agency. While she didn't know the job existed at the time, her future –as a marketing manager at London-based digital agency 360i – had been accurately predicted. By her own definition, her role is to make her company famous; from connecting with press to making sure her colleagues know the right things to say about their work. Alongside this, she also runs Power Suit Social, a new initiative and network for creative professionals to share and discuss the future of the industry. Lauren tells us how she runs the show as a one-woman team and why PR is more crucial for businesses than ever.
Marketing Manager, 360i Europe (May 2016–present)
BA Linguistics with French, University of Sussex (2007-2011)
Account Manager, Clarity PR (2014-2016)
Marketing Manager, Startupbootcamp Berlin (2013)
Project Manager, The Engine Group (2012)
Creative and Marketing, Digitas (2011)
Inside digital agency 360i on London’s Tottenham Court Road
How would you describe your job?
I’m the marketing manager at digital agency 360i, so it’s my job to make us famous. I’m responsible for everything that we say about our company, and – in theory – whatever is said by other people about us. That means I have to look for stories within our business to pitch to the press. I maintain the website, manage our presence on social media, apply for awards for our campaigns, help pitch for new clients (such as IKEA, Rituals or Burger King) and monitor the things people say about our agency. My job can involve creating videos that summarise our best campaigns or running events for our clients.
A marketing department typically works closely with the most senior people in the business; I report directly to the managing director. My role is inward and outward-facing, meaning I promote 360i externally, alongside managing communications within the business. This can involve taking staff on field trips to galleries and museums for creative inspiration.
What does a typical working day look like?
Our hours are 9am until 5.30pm, so usually I come in around 8.45am and grab a bowl of cereal as we get free breakfast. I’ve tried to make a habit recently of writing down my main priorities at the start of the day before I check my emails, otherwise the emails control my to-do list.
A nice perk is that our MD introduced ‘Summer Fridays’ so that in July and August we all leave at 3pm every Friday. It’s smart as most people are less productive on a Friday afternoon, so it’s an incentive to ramp up your efforts until the early finish.
“As I’m not in a client-facing role, most things are self-initiated so my time and tasks stretch to fill whatever I define as ‘finished’.”
How did you land your current job?
I found my job at 360i through a recruiter. I was drawn to the progressive ways of working, and the benefits of being part of a big network (360i is part of Dentsu Aegis Network) while retaining a startup feel. There are also great training opportunities – for example, I recently got a place on the network’s Women in Leadership scheme.
I think one of the reasons I was right for the job was because I had worked in forward-thinking companies like tech startups and digital agencies. I also think my experience in a PR agency stood out because PR is becoming more and more important in the success – and failure – of companies nowadays.
Where does the majority of your work take place?
I’m based in an office on Tottenham Court Road. We’re right in amongst lots of other ad agencies, and we’re in the same building as other great digital companies like Netflix and Deliveroo. About 95% of my time is spent in front of a computer; sometimes I spend time in our new photo studio when there’s a shoot on, taking behind-the-scenes photos for our social channels.
How collaborative is your role?
While I’m a one-person team, my job involves constant collaboration. I need to have allies in every department and find out what news they have coming up. For example, I need to know when we have an upcoming ad campaign, so I can write a press release and pitch it to journalists.
What are the most and least enjoyable aspects of your job?
My favourite part of the job is PR. I love that tangible way of building up a company’s profile. I read a lot of industry press (magazines and websites that cover advertising, such as Campaign or The Drum) so I generally have a reasonable idea of which journalists would be likely to find our stories interesting.
One of the things I love about my job is being in charge of my own time, but I have the perks of structure too. However, sometimes this is a downside. As I’m not in a client-facing role, most things are self-initiated so my time and tasks stretch to fill whatever I define as ‘finished’. There’s basically an infinite amount of things I could work on.
What has been the most exciting project of the last twelve months?
I loved promoting our big Christmas campaign for Lidl, called the Lidl Social Price Drop. The more people tweeted about certain products, the more we reduced the prices in store, and the public responded really positively. My role was to work with the client leadership team (also known as the account management team in some agencies) to get a press release about it signed off by the client, and showcase the work and its results.
Lidl sold 800% more of certain products than the year before, and since then I’ve been using the case study video to show to potential new clients and apply for awards. The biggest agencies often hire one person who is purely dedicated to making these videos and entering awards!
What skills are essential to your job?
Pitching – being able to articulate the benefits of a company, product or person. Being super-organised. Copywriting. Idea generation. Having a good working relationship with all the key people in the business: a great marketing lead needs to be ‘in’ with the whole team. Helping everyone become an advocate for the brand – ensuring they understand the strategic direction we’re going.
Lauren's role includes managing the rollout of the agency's new website
Lauren's role includes managing the rollout of the agency's new website
Alongside her work at 360i, Lauren writes regularly about the creative industries
How I Got Here
Do you run any self-initiated projects alongside your job?
I’ve started something called Power Suit Social – a community and series of events about the future of the creative industries. There are a lot of big changes we didn’t see coming, like Brexit and the snap election, and this is affecting the finances and confidence of brands in the creative industries. My aim is to bring together experts to talk about how we keep creativity commercially viable, and make sure we can still make a living from it!
The power suit reference is due to the fact that there are parallels with the uncertainties of the ’80s. So far I’ve had speakers from Getty Images, adam&eve, Grey and The Dots.
What tools do you use most for your work?
I’m a bit retro, I keep scarily neat notebooks. Then I use Outlook; Tweetdeck (for keeping an eye on what people are saying about 360i on social media); iMovie (for making videos); the paid version of Gmail and Google Drive; Asana (a great tool for collaborating, as it makes it clear who needs to take the next action). My inbox acts as my overall to-do list, and I’ll mark emails as unread if I haven’t dealt with the task yet.
“As with most marketing and communications jobs, you don’t need to have studied something related to get a good job.”
The first Power Suit Social event
Branding for Power Suit Social
Lauren for her Power Suit Social shoot
Part of the Power Suit Social shoot
How I Got Here
What did you want to be growing up?
When I was about six I wrote that when I grew up I wanted to be a servant (written as ‘servunt’). Thankfully I’m aiming a bit higher these days. Later I wanted to be a vet, an entrepreneur, and by my teens I was already interested in working in the media industry – I wasn’t sure whether in advertising, journalism or TV, just something that involved creativity and champagne. I recently found an old card my sister gave me saying that the stress of my dissertation would one day seem insignificant when I was ‘running the marketing department at Ogilvy’. Weirdly, I now do that, just for a different agency. At the time, I didn’t know that job existed, so it’s funny that she predicted my future so accurately.
How (if at all) is the subject you studied useful to your current role?
I studied linguistics with French. Neither subject has had a big impact on my career. For me, student life was as much about learning to live away from home and deal with real life, but with the safety net of still being in education. People’s choice of subject and which institution they went to very rarely seem to come up in conversation.
What were your first jobs?
I started with an internship called the IPA AdSchool and was placed at a digital agency called Digitas. The work there touched several departments, but a lot of the work was for marketing and new business. At the time, I didn’t really consider applying for work in that department; I’m now kicking myself for not having asked questions about how to really nail it doing marketing for a digital agency. But my contacts there have been really useful and I’m still in touch with some of the people I learnt from.
“One email asking for a coffee with someone might get you a lot further than 10 job applications through jobs sites.”
Lauren has worked to promote tech startups such as Bellabeat
Was there a particular project you worked on that helped your development?
The thing that has turbo-charged my learning has been running Power Suit Social alongside doing my day job. I’ve learnt to do so many things from scratch, because I’d never built a website, branded something or art directed a photoshoot. It also helped with learning about creating successful partnerships. It has definitely allowed me to experiment, so I can now put my new skills to good use in my job.
Could you do this job forever?
I expect I will always be working to grow companies and their reputations. I definitely see a lot of potential for bigger and better things at my agency, and then see myself staying within our parent company Dentsu Aegis Network longer term. They’re great at plucking up interesting people and giving them a big challenge like a new startup agency or big initiative to run. That really excites me.
Words of Wisdom
What advice would you give to a young creative wanting to become a marketing manager?
Sometimes the in-house marketing team or comms person is seen as a not-very-sexy job, but it can be one of the most creative roles within a given business. And depending on who you work for, you can be quite brave and have a lot of creative control, compared to creating something for a client.
As with most marketing and communications jobs, you don’t need to have studied something related to get a good job. Enthusiasm and an evident interest in the company and its industry are worth a lot. Personal connections also count for a lot. One email asking for a coffee with someone you met at a talk or networking event might get you a lot further than 10 job applications through jobs sites. You don’t have to like coffee, but you do need to be armed with questions for that person. They might just help you get a foot in the door.