Oliver Sissons studied BA (Hons) Public Relations at BU and graduated in 2018. He is now SEO Director at Reboot Online. We caught up with him to find out more about his BU experience and career so far.
Why did you choose to study your course?
I had always been interested in advertising and psychology. The Public Relations course at BU seemed like the perfect mix of the two, as it looked at how PR campaigns and strategies work to promote the interest of brands and resonate with relevant stakeholders. The course also had units dedicated to PR methodologies in the context of digital technologies and channels, which really appealed to me.
Why did you choose to study at BU?
Bournemouth was a clear contender for anyone looking to study in a creative field. Even before the open day I came across materials showcasing some of the amazing work that BU students and alumni were working on. The option to include a placement year was also a huge factor. I read about the many industry connections that BU has with some of the biggest and best brands and would 100% recommend that anyone looking to go to university seeks out a course with a placement year.
Finally, after attending an open day, it was clear that it was the right place for me. Not only was the atmosphere buzzing and everyone welcoming and friendly but even the open campus layout and design appealed to me. Being so close to the beach was an added benefit too.
What were the best things about your course and university experience?
- The industry links with businesses looking to support and mentor students.
- The staff, from the lecturers and teachers to the support and accommodation teams, were all so helpful and welcoming.
- The people I met and have stayed in contact with. My experience was full of creative and kind people, and I made many close friends while studying there.
- The campus. There has clearly been a lot of investment in making sure that students have everything they need to not only complete their studies to the best of their abilities, but to also have a great time whilst living and studying at the uni.
How did your studies prepare you for what came next?
On the practical side my placement involved spending 12 months working in a marketing role where I could apply what I was learning. By the time that I started the role my studies had helped me feel confident and ready to help the business with their campaigns.
The structure of the course and coursework/exams has also helped instil a research-first approach which has proved to be exactly what is needed at the agency I have been working at in the last few years.
The friends and support network that I've kept have also been helpful in both my professional and personal life, and I know many other people that studied at BU that feel the same.
Tell us your career journey so far.
Following a successful placement year where I was helping a startup with their SEO and paid media campaigns, I was offered a consultancy position where I continued to support the business throughout my final year at university. While challenging, this did allow me to develop my CV and pick up new skills which would be useful in securing my next role.
After graduating, I applied for and got a role at the respected SEO and digital PR agency Reboot Online, who I had been following online for some time.
My initial role was as a junior Digital PR Executive, which involved creating press releases, carrying out research and data collection, putting together outreach lists, and reaching out to relevant journalists to secure press coverage for the agency’s clients.
Not long after joining the agency I was fortunate enough to spend time directly with the CEOs, Shai and Naomi Aharony, learning about the more technical aspects of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and how it overlaps with PR campaigns. I then moved into a more technical SEO Executive role.
After a good few years of exciting company growth and learning a tonne, I am now the SEO Director at Reboot. These days I am helping the wider team continue to evolve our campaign processes and deliver ever-improving campaigns for our clients, alongside supporting on new business pitches and client account management. We have worked with brands like Just Eat, Uswitch, Confused.com, China Airlines, and a wide range of other brands (big and small) in most industries that you can think of.
What do you enjoy most about your work or find most rewarding?
Agency life is fast paced and competitive, with clients rightfully always looking for the biggest return on their investment. This is great and means that you are always learning and improving your approach to ensure that you can deliver the best results possible. It is also very rewarding to see the impact that you are making on a business and the team running it. We often work with specialist businesses that want to challenge established brands in their industry, and we have helped them do just that. You get to see the businesses grow and individuals within their teams progress, in part because of the work that you have done together.
What advice would you have for others thinking of following a similar path?
Get involved in a placement while studying or seek out work experience before you enter the job market. Not only will you have a supportive environment to put what you have been learning into practice, but what you learn on the placement/work experience itself will help inform your later coursework and studies.
I have also been lucky to have exposure to both in-house and agency roles, and I would recommend that students entering the PR or marketing industry try their hand at both to find what suits their approach and style. Both agencies and in-house roles have their owns benefits and challenges, and by trying both you will learn different things from each whilst also finding the path that will bring you the most fulfilment in the long-term.