In September 2020, learners from across Guernsey started their journey with Squared Online: a Digital Marketing and Leadership course developed with Google, powered by AVADO and delivered through Digital Greenhouse.
The fully funded places for Guernsey residents were made possible through the Committee for Economic Development’s SMART Guernsey programme, which seeks to support islanders and local businesses to develop the skills needed to succeed in a digital world.
With the first cohort of learners just graduating, we spoke with Megan Thoume, Digital Content Executive at Orchard PR, to hear about her journey so far.
What interested you in the Squared Online programme initially?
The world of marketing has evolved rapidly – and it’s important for PR professionals and marketers to keep informed in order to stay ahead. From programmatic advertising to creating compelling content, marketing today combines data science with creative magic.
I’m always keen to learn more about digital. I believe what makes digital marketing such an exciting area to study is the speed of change. Disruption is happening at a lightening pace – and perfecting your skills requires a combination of on-the-job experience and continuous learning.
It’s this disruption that has, in recent years, seen the roles of PR and marketing professionals begin to merge and key skills overlap. With the goal of PR being to tell impactful stories and cultivate a positive public perception, it makes sense to leverage these skills in the digital marketing space – and tell your stories through interesting and informative content across your online and offline channels.
So, I was excited to be offered a sponsored place on SMART Guernsey’s Squared Online programme and to have the opportunity to learn from industry experts across the globe, about the trends that are driving disruption not only in my own industry, but in our clients’ sectors too.
How will your digital marketing and leadership expertise benefit your career, your business, and your team?
As someone who is ambitious and keen to progress in my career, Squared Online’s focus on developing crucial digital leadership skills was really important to me. The course covers how marketing professionals can affect real change across their organisation and lead in driving digital transformation. This gave me the chance to nurture my leadership expertise and share key learnings with my colleagues at Orchard PR to help not only grow our digital offering, but also further support our customers throughout every stage of their journey.
One of the main leadership attributes that the course introduces is being a digital champion. The technical skills required for today’s marketing and PR professionals are evident, but the course also highlights the importance and potential from leveraging technology to reach your customers on the right channels – and in the right moments.
Being a digital champion is much more than being technically-savvy: it’s also about identifying the right technology to unlock real value and having the leadership qualities to ensure that people can work with digital in the right ways. Now, I’m always looking for opportunities and new ways we can use technology to help Orchard and our clients meet - and exceed - their objectives and ambitions.
Beyond creating digital champions, the course also emphasises the importance of collaborating across departments and disciplines to have a complete understanding of the customer journey across multiple online and offline touchpoints. This has really helped me to implement new ideas, get buy-in from my colleagues, and see my initiatives through to being implemented. Close collaboration is key, so I ensure everyone is joined up and communicating the same message: as a result, we can deliver a more meaningful and impactful campaign.
Coming from a PR background, it’s been useful to further my understanding of marketing terminology and channels, as it’s built my confidence when speaking to clients who are marketers. Learning these skills and how to apply them to my role has unquestionably helped me in my own career development, with marketing theories and frameworks to help implement new ideas for my organisation and our clients.
What have been the highlights of your Squared Online journey?
For four of the five course modules, learners are put into groups with people from around the world – each with a diverse range of experiences, backgrounds, and expertise. One of my highlights has been getting to know the group, and collaborating on our transformative marketing proposals. This collaborative approach means we’re not only learning from expert speakers during our live classes – we’re constantly engaging with our peers, some of whom have experience working for global brands.
Another highlight is the learning platform itself. It’s very easy to use and intuitively laid out so you know what you need to learn each week. There’s also a variety of ways to learn - from quizzes and videos to live online lectures and practical assignments. Each of these activities is designed to apply what you have learnt each week so you can relate it directly to your own company. For me that’s meant always thinking about the new learnings and insights I can bring to my everyday work. There’s a lot to learn, but the platform breaks it down into easily digestible sections of information.
Can you tell us more about what you learned throughout the course?
Creating video content forms a big part of my role at Orchard. So, a highlight for me was learning more about using video to engage customers across multiple channels.
Over the past year, we’ve seen how video has played a crucial role for brands seeking to engage with customers during a period of global uncertainty. Industry reports have all indicated that video is growing in popularity with marketers and consumers alike. In fact, Biteable’s 2021 survey found that 68% of marketers believe video has a better return on investment than Google Ads. Similarly, HubSpot found that 54% of consumers want to see more video content from a brand or business they support.
Ultimately, people connect with people. Consumers respond to brands that are personified in a way that reveals who – and what – they stand for. Video marketing is increasingly about displaying the right messages at the right time and leveraging other digital channels to reach your customers. I also learned about other channels that brands can leverage to promote their videos, such as YouTube video ads that appear before a video is played. Additionally, the course covered programmatic technology, used to automate, integrate and optimise marketing campaigns for maximum engagement.
Learning how to engage customers using social strategies, such as social listening, paid and organic social content and influencer marketing campaigns, will be very valuable to me when creating social media content for Orchard and our client base.
But the techniques and technology aside, perhaps the most important learning was the focus on customer-centricity. Whether it’s content creation, branding psychology or overall strategy – at the end of the day, it’s all about putting the customer first.
With your increased digital marketing and leadership expertise, what advice would you share with other businesses or marketers operating in a more digital world?
Being innovative is important. Thinking of new ideas and better processes through the use of digital will help you stand out and show you’re enthusiastic and looking to the future.
As professionals in the communications industry, we are uniquely positioned to drive real change and understand the needs and wants of customers. For me, that means I should be constantly researching and learning what new technology is out there to get the best results for my customers.
As the world becomes increasingly digital, adapting to your customer’s needs and expectations is no longer optional – it’s absolutely vital to succeed. Digital transformation today isn’t a choice, but an imperative. We need to recognise the immense opportunity that lies before us – and start to reimagine how we engage and delight our customers in the new world.
Megan Thoume is a Digital Content Executive at Orchard PR, where she develops, edits, plans and produces a variety of innovative digital content for a range of clients, creating videos, images, designs and infographics for use online, at events and on social media.
She uses her skills to implement digital marketing initiatives and to manage day-to-day campaigns, supporting colleagues across a range of client accounts. She has a First-Class Honours degree in Media Production from the University of Winchester and is also a CIPR Professional PR Certificate holder.
To learn more about the Squared Online digital marketing course and other opportunities available under the Committee for Economic Development’s SMART Guernsey programme, visit Digital Greenhouse.