A Closer Look: Marketing and Events Officer

Amy helps organise and market large university events. Photo: University of Adelaide @Flickr

With differing job titles on every application, ‘A Closer Look’ was created to offer a real insight into what the people behind the titles get up to at work. The return of the series sees Amy Allen give a hugely detailed insight into the work of a marketing officer.

What is your official job title?
Marketing Officer (Events) for a large UK university.

What does your average day involve (if an average day even exists)?

I’m not sure there’s such a thing as an average day when you work in marketing and events management – a day at work for me can involve all sorts of different things. I, of course, spend time every day doing general administrative tasks such as answering emails and processing financial matters, but I can also spend time doing everything from liaising with suppliers of events equipment or services (from furniture hire to first aid cover), meeting with people to discuss ideas for events or promotional campaigns, writing copy for brochures, arranging student helpers for events, working with designers on design work we’re having drafted or writing to speakers or other people supporting us in forthcoming events. In addition, some days are also spent managing events taking place, such as open days, conventions or public lectures – these days are generally very busy and involve managing the event from an overall perspective: ensuring all of the people involved in the event are in position and working as expected, speaking with attendees and dealing with any situations that might arise. My job is a very mixed bag in terms of day-to-day work, but this definitely keeps things interesting.

What are the biggest challenges of your job?

The biggest challenge in this type of role, I think, is effectively managing your workload. In my experience, marketing for events and events planning and organisation is like an exponential curve – it starts slowly, but as an event or the pinnacle of a campaign nears the workload builds until before you know it, it’s over. In order to not be in a really stressful place by the time this peak draws near, you have to be very organised – especially as you’ll often be working on multiple projects (and therefore on multiple curves) concurrently. Another challenge is managing the expectations of stakeholders and the pressure linked to these expectations. Clients expect great campaigns and events and audiences expect a quality experience, and you’re responsible for both of these things in various ways. Again, the key to managing this, I think, is good organisation. A final challenge that I’d note is that working in this area can be very tiring – events are often held at times that would be deemed anti-social (such as evenings and weekends), but an office still needs staffing during business hours, so you can build up quite a lot of overtime. Taking time out / off and not thinking about work when you do can be a challenge, but it’s an important one to overcome in order to not burn out.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

The thing I enjoy most about my job is seeing the results of the hard work that the team and I work with put in. It might take three or even six months to plan and promote a really large event, such as an open day, a convention or an awards ceremony, but seeing that time and effort come together in fruition is very rewarding indeed. Exercising creativity is also another really enjoyable aspect of my role – brainstorming ideas in team meetings is great fun and really helps everyone to think outside of the box in terms of creative ideas for promotion, branding or events. Also, as a naturally organised person, I love to create detailed event plans and files that document the work that I do. This is really important for a number of reasons – not least the fact that if, on the day of an event, I can’t be there, someone else needs to be able to pick my work up and run with it – but it’s also something I really enjoy as I can see my work on an event or campaign develop and I have something organised and tangible to document things with afterwards too. It’s been great to see my portfolio of work and successful events I’ve helped with build up over my time spent working in this area, and I’m looking forward to seeing it develop further.

What advice would you give to anyone wanting to get into a similar position?

I’d advise people looking to move into the marketing and events management field to first of all think carefully about whether this is the career for them. As I mentioned above, one of the challenges of working in this field is that there is a high expectation in terms of hours outside of a normal 9 to 5 working day. If you want to have every weekend off work and a constantly sparkling social life, this is probably not the job for you. I’d also advise people to gain experience through volunteering, which will help them learn more about different aspects of marketing and events management, as well as help them to decide whether it is right for them. Many event organisers and organisations are often on the look out for volunteers to support or promote their events – where I work, for example, we have a pool of student helpers that we employ to help us, and there are opportunities out there in everything from conferences to product launches to music festivals. Experience of any type, whether paid or voluntary, can give you the edge in job applications for paid work, as well providing you with something tangible to talk about in interviews. Other advice I’d give (in a similar vein) is to be enthusiastic and to document your experience and enthusiasm in a blog if you can. This is free to do and can be done in your spare time, it gives you something with which to prove your interest beyond the line ‘I’ve always had a passion for this’ written on a CV and it can work as a tangible portfolio in terms of demonstrating experience. Finally, if you really want to work in this area, you need to be realistic in terms of the type of jobs on offer. No-one working in this field really begins work spearheading national marketing campaigns or managing large-scale events and celebrity parties. The majority of work in the field isn’t anywhere near as glamorous as people imagine, but it is hugely rewarding. Bear this in mind and work hard, and you will absolutely see the rewards. It’s a great area to work in.

Thanks so much to Amy for getting on board with this project with such detailed answers. If you work in the media/creative industry and have five minutes to spare to help create this careers resource, please have a read about the project here.