For those of you who don’t know, Halo is a Bristol born and bred brand-first creative agency that isn’t afraid to think loud and test limits. Their motto literally is: LOUDER THAN LOVE shaping brands that resonate. They are creative & strategic partnersto ambitious, purposeful brands, and their speciality is innovatively connecting brands to their audiences.
We first met Nick at Glug’s ‘Imagine if…’ event where he focused on ‘imagine if…briefs didn’t exist.’ He hilariously explored how creatives can turn a blank canvas into rich, multi-layered – and most importantly – effective work. So, we were excited to hear more about Nick’s and Halo’s philosophy and their 15 years in business.
Moxie & Mettle: Tell us about your career journey; how have you got to where you are now?
Nick Ellis: I’ll try to keep this short.
Went to art college but dropped out to join a band. Toured Europe but fame didn’t come knocking. Instead, when I realised my burgeoning rock career was a non-starter I got a job working for a large newspaper group in production before joining Future Publishing as a designer. Honed my skills before leaving the world of magazines to bounce around AdLand in various agencies working for the likes of BT, Jack Daniel’s and The Forestry Commission before finally deciding to start Halo with my soul brother, Vern.
Moxie & Mettle: Why did you decide to open your own agency?
Nick Ellis: AdLand is a weird (and wonderful) place and I knew that this was the industry for me. But drifting from shop to shop felt too nomadic and I decided that to find a permanent home that ticked all the boxes would mean starting my own agency. I wanted to build a business on the foundations of strategy and creativity, unbeholden to shareholder demands, able to define my own path and that meant biting the bullet – literally putting my money where my (often too large) mouth was.
Moxie & Mettle: What’s the story behind the name Halo?
Nick Ellis: Vern thought the name sounded cool. I agreed. We later found out that it was a marketing term which gave us some quality post-rationale.
Moxie & Mettle: What was the turning point in your career? / In Halo?
For the first couple of years, we made Flash (remember that?) Games for Peugeot Rally, shaped brands for SMEs and generally had a lovely/ stressful/ frantic/ crazy time building the agency. The turning point came when we were asked to pitch for the Visit Somerset rebrand in 2006. We were a really late ‘wildcard’ entry – included on weight of attitude alone, but against all odds, we pitched and won. The success of that project led to a few years of being pretty big in destination branding and it helped us grow. But there’s a number of moments that could be considered pivotal, including the rebrand of Butcombe Brewery, our first strategy presentation for M&S, the award-winning Festie Guru campaign for Ticketmaster that led to us becoming the digital global agency of record for Live Nation.
There are always moments. But sometimes, the ones you think are going to be big don’t work out that way. Our (at the time) groundbreaking TV ad for (sex toy retailer) Lovehoney that aired pre-watershed for example. Loads of press, loads of noise, we even made page 3 of the Telegraph and page 2 of the Times along with features on the BBC, Channel 4 and across the pond on CNN, but the fame was fleeting. Success can be a cruel mistress.
Moxie & Mettle: What has been the most important lesson opening your own agency has taught you?
Nick Ellis: Where to begin?
One of the most important lessons is about account management. We applaud and celebrate creative, but without great client relationships, an agency can’t survive. Those who work in client services are the backbone of the agency. They are the first creative department, the first exposure to strategy, the mirror of the agency’s values, ideals and ambitions. It’s a hard job that takes fierce organisation, focus and empathy. Client services rock.
I guess that overall, running Halo has taught me the importance of strategic thinking and taking a brand first approach. Without the intellectual rigour that underpins a project, creative work can become wallpaper, an aesthetic bandaid that delivers in the short term but struggles to maintain performance over the longer term.
I’ve also learned the true meaning of collaboration. Vern and I own the agency, but our people are the business. They are the heart and soul, promise and ambition of Halo, without them it couldn’t exist and it wouldn’t be the same.
Plus, I learned to control my ego. I realised early on that being a creative star in an average studio was meaningless. The studio’s output is everything so, there’s no place for rampant ego’s; you win, lose, triumph or crash and burn as one.
Oh yeah, and it’s just marketing – it’s not heart surgery, no one’s going to die because a post didn’t reach it’s projected impacts.
Moxie & Mettle: What’s the craziest pitch idea you’ve ever had, did it win the client over?
Pitching the God of Cider campaign to Mallets Cider was pretty out there. The campest, most ridiculous character led work with the strapline ‘Cast in myth, forged by legend, made with apples.’
Still won it though.
Moxie & Mettle: Where do you see creative branding and storytelling heading over the next few years?
Nick Ellis: That’s an impossible question to ask. The industry will talk endlessly about new technological advances. We’ll be bombarded with AR and VR. We’ll shout ourselves hoarse bellowing platitudes about the next demographic segmentation. But really, marketing – or at least the fundamentals – really don’t change all that much.
We need to stop reaching for the next shiny piece of tech. Stop our damaging reliance on social and programmatic. Stop living in the bubble of (predominately white, male) privilege that fills our industry echo chamber and get back to understanding what people want, need and fear. And how brands can connect in more meaningful, memorable ways.
Moxie & Mettle: What’s next for Halo?
Nick Ellis: We celebrate 15 years in April 2020 (that’s when we’ve chosen to release a retrospective of work) so it’s going to be a fun opener to the year. But mostly we’ll continue to build on our strategic brand proposition, working with clients to deliver insightful, creative and commercially successful work.
Plus we’ve got a range of Halo merch coming out featuring some of our favourite, vacuous marketing bullshit from the last few years. My personal favourite is ‘Get busy story living or get busy story dying’.
Moxie & Mettle: In your opinion, what are the top 3 skills it takes to succeed as an agency owner?
Tenacity. It’s not an easy industry to work in. It’s competitive, crowded and the knockbacks are almost as frequent as the successes. You need to resolve to keep going. Keep learning. Stay interested. Stay relevant.
Flexibility. You have to be agile, able to act quickly and with acuity to get things done. And you need to keep your mind wide open. Listen to your team – trust your team – and support them to be great.
Don’t be a dick. No one wants to work with a dick. So work hard at not being one.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the process of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic from the organic or free search engine results.
Over the past few years, SEO has transitioned from an added-value enhancement to a necessary expense for a lot of businesses that rely on the web. Marketers see SEO as becoming more effective, with 82% reporting effectiveness is on the rise, and 42% of this group stating effectiveness is increasing significantly (MarketDive, 2016).
Businesses are now more aware of today’s continued digital marketing maturity, and it’s no surprise that they are constantly becoming more advanced at SEO and with that, increasing their competitive edge. It should really be considered to be a significant factor in all digital strategies.
SEO is undeniably an indispensable digital marketing must in today’s market and from our experience recruiting in the creative market, we’ve come to understand how sought after the skill is. We’ve found that few people understand SEO in detail, and the demand for the people that do is strong.
So, we were interested in finding out from some Bristol based SEO specialists what type of skills you need to pursue a career and their perception of how it sits in business today.
“Thinking about the skills and knowledge someone needs for a career in SEO, the most important skill is the ability to learn new information and apply it quickly. As with any internet-based service, the rules and information that govern the delivery of a high-quality delivery change very rapidly. This means SEO executives and managers need to constantly research the latest updates to algorithms and industry trends as the service is constantly evolving. I would also consider communication skills to be another highly recommended skill to have. SEO is a service which typically requires a lot of explanation to outside parties such as clients, which will not usually have the same level of technical knowledge. The responsibility of explaining the value of delivered services often falls on the SEO specialist, so being able to provide answers to questions in an easily understandable and not overly techy fashion is a valuable skill.”
Then, we spoke to Elliott Simpson, SEO copywriter at Fat Media. He expresses why SEO is now so crucial in any business, and why it can be misunderstood easily:
“The rules are always changing with SEO. The tactics that digital marketers used 10, even five years ago, are completely different to the ones that many of them use today. This makes SEO an area where mistakes can easily be made if businesses don’t keep up to date with the latest news and trends. But, at the same, it’s what makes it such an exciting field. Trying out new strategies and tools is essential if marketers want to stay ahead of the curve. It’s an area that never stands still – so SEO specialists can’t afford to either.”
“Ex-journalists make for great SEOs because, throughout their training, they have learned to satisfy user intent. Having an editor constantly ask you ‘yes but what does the reader want to know’ is a great way of thinking about user intent, which is the basis of all successful SEO strategies (yes, even the health and hygiene elements). TL;DR – Google emulates wants users want, so emulate what Google says users want. Journalists are great at this”
I agree with everything my esteemed industry colleagues have said, it is all about being constantly aware of the changes and requirements to make a website, and in turn, a business does well including being able to write great content.
When I started in SEO way back in the ‘black hat’ days, you could basically get anyway with anything, including ‘keyword stuffing’, ‘redirects’, ‘paid links’ to name but a few. However, these days, Google, primarily, has cottoned on to these unethical practices and has moved more towards the need for professional content, so the old adage ‘content is king’ really comes true.
Content needs to be fresh, unique and appropriate. This means that there is a lot of research required to be able to write clear, relevant and keyword-rich content that delivers the right message with power and conviction. The content on your website should target your audience, engage them and persuade them to take action and this is even more important today due to the new update from Google called BERT (Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers), whereby sloppy content will not be tolerated. Therefore, it is important that if you want to succeed in digital marketing, whether it be SEO or PPC or Social Media, because as we know these all complement each other, you have to have the ability to do the research and to write engaging and persuasive content. So, listen to your English professor and always use ‘spell check’ and never ever duplicate content across multiple pages/websites.
And from my own point of view, SEO is a skill I’m learning as part of my role at Moxie and Mettle, and here are my thoughts on how SEO beginners can advance their skills on their own:
“SEO is seen as a dark art for many people, especially new businesses and young professionals, like me. In the saturated market we work in today, I’ve found you must take matters into your own hands to be successful, and this definitely counts for SEO. Luckily there are loads of great introductory courses, blogs and books on the topic that can help kickstart a basis for an SEO strategy. Here are some of my recommendations for beginners:
1. A great starting place to learn SEO is The Beginner’s Guide to SEO from Moz. It’s free, and it starts out answering the most basic questions like “What is SEO?”
3. Lastly, YOAST SEO offers a definitive WordPress SEO guide. Their plugin also comes with tons of features to help optimise your website. It has built-in content analysis, meta keywords and description management, managing duplicate content, social features, rich snippets and much more.
However, the most important advice I can give is to dig in and get as much hands-on experience through trial and error as you can.”
SEO opportunities 👇
If any SEO specialists would like to add any comments to this, please get in touch with Isabelle on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Moxie & Mettle specialise in placing Marketing, PR, Digital, Comms, Creative and Social Media roles.
We currently have some fantastic SEO or PPC opportunities, so please get in touch on email@example.com if you are interested in hearing more about them.
Tom & Jerry. Salt & Pepper. Wallace & Gromit. You’ve most probably heard of these famous duos, but for most marketers, the essential pair is content & marketing.
Every company needs a content strategy in today’s environment, and it should be a priority; with 72% of marketers reporting that content marketing has quantifiably improved prospect engagement (SmallBiz Genius).
A content creator is a professional that often contributes digital media assets to a company. Usually, it consists of blog posts, photography, videography, podcasts, graphics and the like.
So, considering the increased demand for these set of skills, we spoke to Aemilia Smith, Content Creator for Hyde & Co and Duchess Media. She offers some insightful advice to people thinking about a career in content.
Moxie & Mettle: Tell us about your career journey; how have you got to where you are now?
Aemilia Smith: Ah, where to start? I’ve had quite an unorthodox career journey.
When I was 16, I moved to London on a Performing Arts scholarship. After three years, I decided to study Journalism and Media at university in Bristol. At the time, I thought the two degrees had a similar link, but they are entirely different!
I actually started working at Hyde & Co before uni, as a summer job, filling invoices. I ended up staying part-time (even full-time) alongside my studies which definitely has positively affected my work ethic today.
In my final year, just before deadlines, I had a weird feeling I was going to get fired…there was an odd vibe, and I was asked into a meeting? BUT it turned out they had decided to create my very own role for me, which is where I am today!
Three months later, Meg and Frankie (owners at Duchess Media), whom I met through Hyde took me out for a drink, relayed how impressed they were with my work and asked me to be their Content Creator.
So, I’m kind of freelance, I work four days a week at Hyde and one day at Duchess, but sometimes it varies due to shoots. My life hasn’t stopped!
Did you find it challenging to secure a job after university? Would you offer any advice to recent graduates?
Aemilia Smith: Before Hyde created my job, I applied to a fair few companies, wangled some interviews but ended up being ghosted by a lot of them with NO feedback. It really got me down as I thought they had gone well, so yes it was pretty challenging.
My advice to people wanting to get into a content type role would be to create a portfolio, no matter what you’re doing! Focus on a niche (mine was food and drink) and take as many pictures as you can. If you really like sports, people, fashion or whatever try and be the best at it as you can, and it will get recognised eventually.
Also, potential employers will be more receptive to candidates who are eager and organised with their work.
Moxie & Mettle: What are your day-to-day activities as a Content Creator?
Aemilia Smith: My responsibilities and activities include:
1. Making a lot of content plans, which involves a lot of hashtag and general content research on social media platforms. For example, I’ll look on Instagram and Twitter at what content gets the most likes and see how we can do the same.
2. Making shot lists and then screenshotting examples to be added to a document and shared with my bosses.
3. Writing a lot of blogs and dabbling on the corporate side of things. At the moment, we are looking to set up a LinkedIn page for Hyde & Co, so I’ll be in charge of that too, which is exciting.
4. Shooting ALL of the content: products, clients, services you name it. An exciting example is that it’s Old Fashioned week this week, so I’ll be taking photos of Old Fashioned cocktails and sending them to the Duchess girls to filter out on all our platforms.
5. Lastly, I regularly review social media insights and analytics, seeing what works and what doesn’t.
What’s next for Hyde & Co?
Aemilia Smith: The next step in our strategy is looking to have more of a corporate base for Hyde, hence the LinkedIn. We’ve aced the party side but looking to host more B2B networking events.
Moxie & Mettle: What has been the most important thing you have learnt throughout your career?
Aemilia Smith: Don’t downplay yourself! This was something I used to do all the time (Meg and Frankie tell me off). In the world of work, you reflect what you are by how you carry yourself and how confidently you communicate yourself to others.
I watched a TEDx Talk about how to sell your services to people, and the most important thing I learnt was you need to demonstrate confidence in what you do. It positively reflects how trustworthy, competent, and reliable people think you are (which is the most essential thing in business). Instead of saying you have some experience in photography, you need to voice that you are a professional photographer. Always sell yourself higher as you can go lower in the future, it much harder to start lower and go higher.
I’ve come to realise, which I think a lot of graduates should, is that I am the expert in what I do, even if you feel like you haven’t achieved/done much. It’s changed my outlook on things, and I think it’s helped me do a better job.
When I’m about to do a shoot, instead of saying I’m just going to take a few photo’s, I’ll lay out exactly what I need and exactly how I’m going to get it done, with assistance if required.
I guess it’s more a personal development rather than a technical thing I’ve learnt.
On the freelance side of things, I’ve had to teach myself everything!
University definitely doesn’t touch upon this; I think we had one lecture about the benefits of working for yourself. There needs to be more of a focus on what your starting and day rate should be? I had no idea and pretty much had to make it up.
Moxie & Mettle: Have you had any setbacks? How did you overcome them?
Aemilia Smith: The most significant setback for me during this job has been the cooperation of a few staff members at one of the sites when I was first appointed. They wouldn’t collaborate with me on anything I was doing, would hide objects for my shoots and just make the whole experience very difficult for me. I didn’t know how to handle it. Nobody told me how to deal with difficult people, so it taught me a lot.
I overcame this by maintaining my professionalism and killed them with kindness, I guess you don’t get along with everybody all the time.
Moxie & Mettle: In your opinion, what are the top 3 skills it takes to succeed as a Content Creator?
1. An excellent eye for detail – you need strong research proficiency to keep up to date with what’s trending, and what people are liking, so you can recreate and benefit your business.
2. Do a course – there are tons of free courses littered on the internet which can help with your success. I’d suggest some basic photography and filmmaking courses. These days you don’t even need to go to university to get these skills.
3. Always be prepared to LEARN – if you’re prepared to learn on the job continually, you’ll be fine. I am learning something new every day and actively look to widen my skill set.
If you are considering a job in content creation, please get in touch with one of the girls at Moxie & Mettle: firstname.lastname@example.org.
In light of the regular tuition fee increases and the saturation of jobless graduates, this question is more relevant than ever before.
Time and time again we see the debate around what is more valuable to young adults looking to break into the world of work: going to university or going straight into employment, potentially through a targeted apprenticeship scheme?
So, we wanted to catch up with 18 year-old AMBITIOUS PR & Bristol Media apprentice Isobel Bryant, who joined them as a Junior Digital PR and Content Apprentice in December 2018. She offers some insightful advice to young adults who are unsure about what career route to take.
Moxie & Mettle: Why did you want to become an apprentice?
Isobel Bryant: I wanted to become an apprentice because it seemed like the perfect transition between leaving college and starting full time work. Before I was appointed, I had a part time job in retail whilst I studied media at college. I didn’t want to go to university, and I wasn’t experienced enough for any of the jobs I liked the sound of. I realised that an apprenticeship role would allow me to gain the experience I needed, whilst learning a bit more about what career I wanted to go into later down the line.
Moxie & Mettle: What’s the experience been like so far?
Isobel Bryant: It’s been crazy! My network has grown incredibly through Bristol Media events and client meetings with AMBITIOUS, I feel like the opportunity has allowed me to show everyone who I am and what I’m capable of. When I first started, I wasn’t very confident in my own skills, but I’ve jumped right into the deep end, and I’ve since discovered what I’m best at, what I enjoy doing, and what I still need to work on.
Moxie & Mettle: What are the three most important skills you’ve learnt?
– Initiative! Almost everything is on a deadline and 9 times out of 10; they are tight. I’ve learnt that everyone’s time is precious and being able to use your own initiative to make things easier for someone else, goes a long way.
– Planning is so important in the content game. Identifying assets, you’ll need, preparing equipment, scheduling everything ahead of time (Google Sheets and Hootsuite are great tools for this) … Don’t wing it!
– I’ve learnt editorial skills for different content platforms. Content isn’t just copy, it can be photo, graphics, gifs, the list goes on… Being able to work with, understand and edit a range is really useful in my role.
Moxie & Mettle: What’s been the most challenging part of your apprenticeship?
Isobel Bryant: Balancing my time between two apprenticeships with Bristol Media and AMBITIOUS PR has been a juggling act at times. It’s something I’m definitely still working on, but practice makes perfect! Good time management is something I’m going to face in every role I’ll have in the future, whether it be the demands of clients or work life balance.
Moxie & Mettle: Do you advise young people to look for opportunities like this one?
Isobel Bryant: For sure. I wish I was more educated on alternative routes to full time education when I was at school/college. I am so grateful to AMBITIOUS and Bristol Media for opening their doors to me, so it would be great to see some more agencies and businesses in Bristol offering similar opportunities to more young people.
Moxie & Mettle: What’s next?
Isobel Bryant: My apprenticeship assessments are coming up in November, so I’m currently in limbo in terms of what’s next, but I hope that once I’ve finished my apprenticeship in December, I am kept on. I still have so much more to learn. We’ll see!
From a company’s perspective, the benefits are endless when hiring apprentices and young adults. The younger generation certainly has an affinity with the information technology it has grown up with that older generations can struggle to appreciate. At Moxie & Mettle, we try to help more entry-level candidates get some good experience so they can enter the world of work with the skills and knowledge that clients are seeking, so let us know if you are looking for your next apprentice or graduate.
Searching and applying for roles can be a full-time job in itself: you’ve got applications to fill out, a CV to update, progress to track – there’s a lot to juggle! Working in partnership with a recruiter, however, is an effective way to make sure you’re made aware of new opportunities as and when they come onto the market.
Recruitment agencies can be an invaluable resource in your search; they assist with the workload and can help you stand out by providing you with insider information and tips on the opportunity.
However, recruiters receive hundreds of applicants every day, so here are just five ways you can stand out in a competitive marketplace:
1. Time is essential
The job market moves at a very fast pace! Usually, when a recruiter receives a brief, they will be in ‘active recruitment mode’ and well on their way to finding the best candidates (hopefully you!). That means if they ring or message you about a role, get back to them as soon as possible, don’t miss out on the opportunity!
2. Show commitment
The recruitment process is a partnership; you need to work with your recruiter to give you the best chances of getting an interview.
Remember the recruiter is the first interview on the client’s behalf, so do your best to shine and create a great impression, as we need to pass on our thoughts and comments on your suitability for the role.
Often a client will ask for a cover letter or portfolio, so ensure you provide a compelling and exciting letter to accompany the CV in a timely manner.
3. Call on your achievements
Agencies like it when candidates blow their own trumpet! Anything a candidate can bring to the table to help them and the recruiter with the job search is much appreciated. We want to know about how great you are so we can do the best we can to find you your dream job.
4. Be realistic
A vital part of the recruitment process is remaining realistic and logical throughout. Recruiters are of most benefit when candidates are reasonable about their next step and salary expectations. It also speeds up the process and prevents back and forth miscommunication between the two parties.
5. Phone them after the interview
Your recruiter is the person who championed you into being considered for the job! They will want to get your feedback before speaking to the client, so you must ring them as soon as you get out. It also reinforces your enthusiasm for the job which the recruiter can relay back to the client once they’ve spoken to them.
To sum up, building a strong relationship with your recruitment agency is important in increasing your chances of securing your dream job. It shows your professionalism, ambition and commitment to the job search.
Investing a little time in working well with recruiters can save you a lot of time on your job hunt! Why not start building a relationship with us, here Moxie & Mettle. Send us your CV.
A lot of people ask me what I do for a living as I pretty much document everything I do on Instagram, and I’m pretty proud to say I’m a Marketing Executive for Moxie & Mettle. My one year anniversary is coming up, so I wanted to share my story so far.
So, let’s start from the beginning. I studied Marketing Communications at the University West of England, and after I graduated, I applied for probably over 60 marketing jobs. I had to learn the hard way that marketing jobs are a highly sought-after career choice for graduates!
I managed to get a few interviews but wasn’t successful due to my lack of ‘actual marketing experience.’ Basically, in the world of work, having a degree is pretty much irrelevant unless you have some experience in the field of study you want to go in to (which is not relayed by universities very well). It wasn’t long before I started doubting myself, thinking that I had no skills and achieved nothing at uni.
During my masses of applications, I came across Becs at Moxie & Mettle, who contacted me about a marketing role she thought I’d be suitable for and long story short we got on so well that they asked me if I wanted to be their in-house marketing assistant. Lucky right?
It’s nearly a year on, and I can honestly say I have learnt SO MUCH. My duties pretty much cover the full range of the marketing mix, with some additional elements thrown in that come with the recruitment industry. This includes:
• scheduling our content and industry news on our social media channels
• and working on central marketing projects assisting with the website development and continuously looking for new opportunities and ways to improve.
The opportunities that Moxie & Mettle have given me (a grad with no traditional experience) are endless. Getting your first real job after university is scary, and I have to admit, the transition into the working world is hard and can be quite disheartening; but if you’re willing to learn and show how motivated you are to start your career, you shouldn’t have a problem.
I’ve achieved so much within my first year: I was promoted to a marketing exec within six months, I’ve increased web traffic dramatically, I’ve taught myself SEO, I’ve attended meetings by myself, I helped with Social Media Week Bristol, and I’ve made some fantastic contacts.
I know everybody in marketing says it, but every day is genuinely different. I’m a pretty creative person, so the role suits me perfectly, and I’m very grateful that Moxie & Mettle gave me an opportunity to kickstart my career in marketing.
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