An interview with Lola Michels

Lola Michels

Meet Lola Michels, Content Strategist at Passion Digital

“As a small little Dutch girl, I wanted to be any silly thing that I thought would make my parents proud. For the longest time, I wanted to become an ice hockey player, as our balcony had a view of an ice hockey stadium that we would look out over at night!

Throughout primary school and high school, I was getting quite high grades in languages, philosophy, and economics, but I was much more in awe of my creative friends – especially the musicians. My school was well-known for its high-quality music education and our home was always filled with singers thanks to my stepdad, who’s a pianist. I sang in a choir and on high school music nights for years, but never intended to get ‘too serious’. I felt I would enjoy it more as a hobby – a ‘passion project’, so to speak.”

My Journey Into Digital Marketing

“As I continued to do well in college and at university, I developed a bit of an altruistic dream: to become a businesswoman who’d make lots of money to support my creative friends. If I didn’t choose to pursue a creative profession myself, I could at least support the arts, right?

I studied International Business and Languages at the Utrecht University of Applied Sciences in The Netherlands and graduated cum laude having successfully completed two specialisations and a minor in E-Marketing and Social Media. It was this introduction to the world of digital marketing that piqued my interest, and I decided I wanted to learn more. I got accepted to do an internship at a small digital agency in London and continued to work there for over 3.5 years.

I got to explore almost every aspect of online marketing – from social media and web build management to content and SEO – and eventually specialised in Content Strategy, which is where my passion currently lies.”

Creative and Strategic

“What I like most about working as a Content Strategist is that it allows me to be creative while also influencing brands on a strategic level. The clients that I work with see the value of content and are willing to invest in it, and I encourage them to really make a difference with the content they create.

In my experience, there’s nothing like content that’s based around real-life events, so I try to inspire my clients to take real action on matters that are close to their hearts. One of my clients is now sponsoring a beach clean later this year and another one is bringing people with chronic pain together to share their personal stories. Both these initiatives have great potential to create community, build backlinks, attract press coverage and generate engagement.”

“To me, there’s nothing as satisfying as to encourage big organisations to make a positive difference to people and the planet.”

Working at Passion Digital

“I love working at Passion Digital because their values align with mine. The agency started with one man in a garage helping charities and not-for-profits manage their Google Ad Grants. Up to this day, we regularly work for charities and ‘doing the right thing’ is one of our core values. Our communication is transparent – both with each other and with our clients – and we are honest about what we can and can’t achieve.

We always want to be proactive and go the extra mile – for our clients and for each other – which fits the work ethic I’ve had all of my life. I also like that most of the time, our team’s quite international – in a previous job, I’ve felt very uncomfortable being the only non-British person in the entire company. I feel that it’s an agency’s responsibility to ensure the work environment is inclusive and doesn’t make anyone feel left out.”

“I wrote an article about my personal experiences of wellbeing in the workplace on Medium.”

Mental Health in the Workplace

“One of the things I’ve been lucky enough to work on for Passion Digital’s own content strategy is the Mental Health at Work campaign, for which I gathered anonymous stories from tech employees and interviewed management about their initiatives to improve wellbeing at work. We later expanded this campaign beyond our own agency, collaborating on content with other digital agencies such as Push Group and The Good Marketer.

In 2020, we are hosting a panel of agencies who are committed to improving the mental health statistics in the tech industry – it will be a unique opportunity to exchange stories, approaches and mental health initiatives with people in our sector. Stay tuned!”

Being a Woman in Tech

“At Passion Digital, I never feel like I’m being disadvantaged because of my gender. We choose clients and colleagues who share our values, which helps create a healthy work atmosphere. At previous agencies, however, I have at times felt uncomfortable being overlooked or patronised by (mainly male) colleagues and clients. In situations like this, it can be hard to speak up for yourself. Especially when you’re in a position of privilege (like I am in many ways), you need to be extra vigilant on behalf of more marginalised colleagues and find helpful ways to stand up for them.”

“We need to remember to stand up for other marginalised people who are being disadvantaged at work.”

“My advice to women who want to move up the ladder in terms of progression is: always ask for more. With each job change, ask for a higher salary. Demand more money if you are assigned more responsibility. I personally believe that the gender pay gap isn’t going to close itself, and we can’t rely on our employers to care about our progression on their own account – we need to keep making a case for the value that we’re adding to the company and demand to be rewarded accordingly.”

“You are a valuable employee and you deserve to be rewarded as such.”

Reflecting on my Teenage Dreams

“Coming back to my teenage dream of becoming a successful businesswoman who can support the arts, I think I’m well on my way. London is one of the most diverse, artistically interesting cities that I know and I literally live in an area called ‘The Artists’ Village’. I’m lucky to be able to go to the occasionally paid exhibition and I try my best to show up for artistic friends and help promote their work.

Job-wise, I’m lucky to have found a profession that combines business with creativity. Maybe, at some point in the future, I’ll expand my skills into UX and UI design to leverage this even more. For now, I’d like to continue working together with fellow industry professionals to make our sector more inclusive, diverse and ‘kind to the mind’.”

You can find Lola on LinkedIn

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