An interview with Lanie Bayliss

Lanie Bayliss

Lanie is a Digital Account Executive at The MTM Agency. She is also the founder of SOCIALight Magazine and has been a freelance copywriter for the last 11 years. 

Career Path

“I went to university with the loose aim of training to become an English teacher. I have a passion for English Literature and I felt that it was a natural job to aspire to attain. 

Halfway through my degree, I realised that instead of assessing my options and looking into the different careers available, I’d slept walked through my GCSE’s and A-levels without really giving my future career a proper thought. 

The career coach at university was unhelpful, but my university tutor offered some advice that helped me reassess my goals and aims. He told me that I didn’t necessarily need to know exactly what I wanted to do right now and that my English Literature (combined with Creative Writing) degree would be a solid qualification to have going forward and would help open doors when it came to pursuing a career. 

He was right!

I landed a freelance copywriting job whilst I was still at university, after attending a networking event. It opened my eyes to the fact that I could earn money from writing and that being an ‘author’ wasn’t the only way to get your work published. I had been told time and time again that I’d never be able to earn a living through the written word. 

The world of marketing was exciting and although the digital/tech side of it was daunting, I decided it was possibly the industry for me.

After graduating, I took a project management role at a small web design company in Southampton where over six years, I climbed the ranks. I became a Senior Project Manager and alongside this role, I acquired a range of skills including a small amount of HTML, CSS, confidence in using various CMS’ and I continued to Copywrite in the form of blogs, social media content and more.

In 2017, they moved the business to Havant and I took voluntary redundancy. I felt the time was right to move on and broaden my skills. I wanted to dip my toe in the world of SEO and Social Media Management. 

I worked for my first digital marketing agency, and although it was fast-paced and pressurised, it confirmed to me that this was the industry I wanted to be in. After 9 months, I was on the hunt for my ‘dream place to work.’ 

I knew that as part of my job hunting, I needed to consider reputable companies that I wanted to work for. Something I hadn’t considered before when I joined the first agency. You spend so much of your time at work, it needs to be a company that you are passionate about, a place that values you and where you feel you fit in.

That’s when I was invited for an interview at The MTM Agency. A digital marketing agency that had been on my radar for a couple of years and one which I had short-listed as an agency I would LOVE to work for. 

And here I am, a year and a half later, as a Digital Account Executive!”

Advice to Women Looking to Break into Digital Marketing

“My advice to women wanting to break into the digital marketing industry is to always be willing to learn. Digital marketing is made up of numerous roles and specialisms, and you can either choose one to focus on and become an expert in it or you can choose to be an all-rounder in marketing. 

Don’t be intimidated by the fact that it is notoriously male-dominated and don’t feel that you must be ‘techie’ to succeed in marketing. Don’t be afraid of not knowing the answer. Don’t be afraid of asking questions. Have a willingness to learn and venture outside of your comfort zone. And most importantly, know your self-worth. 

I love that in my job, no two days are the same. Working for an agency means that you work across a broad range of client accounts, doing different things. One day I could be in the office working through a range of organic SEO tasks and the next I could be in London pitching a proposal to a client.

Working in digital does mean you’re at a higher risk of digital burnout. I don’t think I have personally suffered from digital burnout. There have been times I’ve decided to not use technology for a day or two to take a break, usually from social media platforms and being accessible at all times.”

The Impact of Social on Mental Health

“Social media has both its positives and negatives when it comes to the impact on mental health. For me, I tend to use it to store photos or to organise events or meetups with friends and family. 

I can see why it has a negative impact on young people. The culture of being validated by likes and engagement is sad to see, and the online bullying element of it can get nasty. Nowadays everyone is accessible and it’s easier to be judged.

I feel as though at my age (I’m in my early 30s) social media has a more positive place in life. It’s more about creating and sharing memories. Although there is a tendency for people to paint a perfect picture on social media that may not be true to real life. It’s important to take it with a pinch of salt.

Mental health is certainly being spoken about more often, but whether this is improving the help and support people with mental health issues get I don’t know. 

I’m lucky enough to work for a company that is very open and supportive. If I have a personal issue, there are people I feel comfortable confiding in and I know I’d get the support and help I needed.

I think it is a shame that some people work in places they don’t feel they could go to management to discuss it.”

Women in Digital

“My industry is notorious for having a lack of female role models and mentors. I’ve found that this has been true in various places in my life. 

At university, I found it difficult to find lecturers or tutors that could offer mentorship or advice that was related to my career journey. I didn’t even know digital marketing was an industry I could consider until I was contacted after a networking event and asked if I wanted a freelance copywriting position. 

However, at The MTM Agency, I am surrounded by female role models. I work on the digital side of the agency alongside Alice Berry and she is a kick-ass woman in her field. She’s fierce in what she does and has acquired so much digital knowledge over the years at MTM.

I also work with and for Wes Maynard, MTM’s digital lead. He is a constant champion of me and other women in digital and is always highlighting the achievements of people in our field as well as giving kudos to rising stars in the industry, whilst also being spectacular in his field.

Each of the women at MTM works in different areas of the business and that means there is a diverse group of strong women who have expertise in their area. Knowledge sharing is particularly important too, helping an agency grow and continue to remain up to date and relevant in the industry.

I have definitely been discriminated against for my gender in past workplaces, and I think to an extent every woman has at some level. I’ve had times where I’ve spoken aloud an idea or solution only to be talked over and ignored, for a man to then say the same idea and be praised and congratulated for it. 

I’ve been described as ‘emotional’ when I was unhappy and frustrated with a situation. 

The list goes on…

In the past, I’ve had to assert myself to prove myself more than my male counterparts. I’ve had to blow my own trumpet to climb the ranks, I’ve had to be relentless in my mission for pay increases and I’ve had to work harder at being ‘less soft’ and come across as ‘strong.’ 

I’ve worked with women who have been turned away from a company for ‘having too much personality,’ for ‘being too bossy’ and for not being easy to ‘mould.’ In some situations, I learned that being a wallflower got me by, and that going unnoticed sometimes enabled me to get further in my endeavours. 

I’m a natural introvert. I have a small friendship group and I’m not a natural public speaker. I’ve learned to play to my strengths and leverage them. You don’t have to be an extrovert to do well in your career, and you shouldn’t try and be someone that you’re not.”

The Future of Digital

“When it comes to the future of digital marketing, I think 2020 is going to be all about innovation. Already we’re seeing progress with AI and AR. I’m excited to see how these develop and how they are implemented into marketing. 

With the rise of voice search, I’ll be interested to see how this affects copywriters and the conversational approach that will be required. I don’t think voice search will be as prevalent in the UK as it will be in other countries, but voice assistants are a popular piece of tech that is here to stay.

I also see the rise of remote working interesting, with more and more flexible office spaces becoming available across the UK. I feel that people are finally prioritising a better work/life balance which is so refreshing because let’s be honest, most people in digital marketing really need to work on that!”

You can find Lanie on LinkedIn

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