BA (Hons) Public Relations student Oliver Sissons has returned from his placement year with allbranded and won the Faculty of Media and Communication Placement Award for 2017. He shares his story…

“I would recommend to any undergraduate that has the opportunity to take on a placement year, to dive in head first and see how far it can take them.”

What was your placement? Tell us about the company you worked for?

During my placement year, I worked for a promotional products/branded merchandise agency called allbranded as the Digital Marketing Executive. The company had been around for a number of years as Sourcing OK, but had only just rebranded in the UK to its current title when I joined. We design, source and create custom printed merchandise for our clients who range from small/medium sized businesses to large worldwide brands such as Facebook, Google and Gymshark amongst many others. 

Starting as the Digital Marketing Executive, my roles were primarily focused on online advertising and generating new enquires to pass onto the sales team. Using Google AdWords and SEO primarily, I had to bring increasing amounts of targeted people to the website and see how we could best convert them to customers once they arrived on our website.

What made you want to undertake a placement? Why that particular role and organisation?

Whilst looking at what university course I wanted to study, I saw the opportunity to take part in a placement year under the Public Relations course at Bournemouth University. As I’ve only ever had part-time work in supermarkets, this sounded like a great opportunity to get some first-hand experience in the industry I wanted to build my career in.

I initially wanted to find a placement doing just search engine optimisation (SEO) and applied to allbranded as the job description said SEO would be part of what my job would entail. In actual fact, SEO was a very small part and the majority of my time was spent doing search engine marketing (SEM) instead. Relying on paid advertising to drive traffic which is a skill equally valuable, if not more so, than my initial interest.

What was the best thing about the placement and what are you most proud of having achieved?

For me, I would have to say that the best thing about my placement was being given the trust and responsibility to manage a fairly large advertising budget, which was up to £10,000 a month. This taught me how to budget effectively, create profitable campaigns and measure the success of those campaigns.

Overall, I would say that my proudest achievement would be the additional revenue generated in new business for the company, as a result of the ad campaigns I set up. This included a large deal producing the personalised bottles for the ITV2 show ‘Love Island’ in which over 50,000 bottles were sold!

As a result of the experience I landed a part-time role at allbranded, continuing to develop the online advertisements and manage the marketing budget from university whilst travelling back to London to be in the office once a week.

What did you learn through completing your placement?

Over the course of the year I was fortunate enough to learn how to stay focused and motivated even when things might not go exactly to plan. I also learnt how an international business can operate efficiently and effectively.

Do you think it will help you with the rest of your degree, and ultimately, your career?

Absolutely! In my final year I am already seeing things that reinforce many practical lessons I learnt over my placement. I also feel more confident in my ability to discuss marketing, advertising and public relations theories and strategies as I have reference points to consider what is being discussed. I also feel that I have a much better understanding of the career path I would like to take as a result of my placement.

What advice would you give to any BU students who are looking for placement or are just about to start theirs?

The biggest thing would have to be, don’t talk yourself out of applying somewhere because the job description doesn't sound exactly like what you see yourself doing in the future. Over the year, I learnt that some of the things I thought I’d be really good at were not the areas I excelled in the most. However, I picked up a number of additional skills that I know will be valuable to me in the future, wherever I end up.

I would recommend to any undergraduate that has the opportunity to take on a placement year to dive in head first and see how far it can take them!

Oliver Sissons allbranded