A long journey – An interview with Laura Hampton

Laura Hampton

We caught a couple of moments with Laura Hampton, Head of Digital PR at Impression.

Starting Out

“I never really felt like I had a calling in life as such, though I have been able to spot the activities I’ve enjoyed and the interests that I can happily spend my time on. For example, before going to university, I’d always been interested in psychology – looking at how people behave, how social influences affect us, TV shows like Big Brother and books by the likes of Robert Winston – so when it came time to select a course, Social Psychology was a good option.

During my time at uni, I enjoyed my course and I started to explore other areas I enjoyed, such as writing and journalism – so I picked up opportunities via work experience placements and online writing roles.

In many ways, these choices have led to my career today, but more through luck than design! Even if you don’t know what you want to do as a career, I’d always recommend looking at what makes you happy or interests you, and making that your starting point.”

A Long Journey

“It’s been quite a long journey to my current role! After graduation, I worked at a skydiving centre packing parachutes for skydivers, which was a lot of fun and tied into a hobby I’d picked up at uni. This was never a long term plan, but it gave me the opportunity to explore other options by picking up work experience placements and part time roles.

One such role was as a journalist at a local newspaper, which gave me a real insight into that career option. It became apparent very quickly that the journalism industry was changing dramatically, especially with the rise of online blogging platforms and news outlets. I also picked up a part time role in traditional PR, an option suggested to me by a colleague at the newspaper, and really enjoyed that.

My first foray into digital marketing came in my next part time role, which was originally as a PR and social media specialist within a web design agency. It was here that I learned about SEO for the first time and took it upon myself, with the support of my manager, to go on free courses and read freely available materials to teach myself about search marketing.

From there, I went on to a graduate scheme with global PLC TUI Travel. This wasn’t necessarily aligned with any digital marketing aspirations I had at the time, but it gave me the chance to work around the world so – in line with ‘doing what I was interested in’ – off I went! I learned so much across various placements in finance, business development, marketing and commercial roles.

Then, on returning to the UK, I worked at another digital marketing agency before landing my current role at Impression. Today, I’m the Head of Digital PR for the multi award winning agency and it’s thanks, I believe, to my varied (and somewhat haphazard) experience that I’ve been able to get here.”

Challenges and Accomplishments

“The biggest challenge for me in my career so far was taking the position on the graduate scheme with TUI Travel. I was so proud to be chosen from over 1,800 applicants for one of just six roles, and never even gave thought to passing up such an opportunity, but even so, leaving my home and my friends was difficult. It was definitely worth it though, and really helped to broaden my horizons and teach me a lot of new skills that I still use to this day.

I’m in what I believe to be a very fortunate position in that I get to sculpt my own role – as do my colleagues! We all have defined responsibilities and objectives of course, but what’s great about digital PR (and the whole digital industry really) is that it’s still in its relative infancy and therefore, we can all contribute our ideas and influence the work that we do.”

Digital Burnout

“Two things have really helped me here. One is that I rarely work outside of my working hours. Once I’m home, I’m home. I make an effort to separate my working day from my evenings by going for a run or to the gym. I think it’s really important to ‘log off’ and have time for yourself.

The second is that I don’t have access to my work email or chat groups from my phone. This means, again, that once my laptop is off, I’m on my own time. Of course, I will sometimes think about work or find inspiration outside of working hours, but it’s important to me that I avoid burnout by knowing when to switch off.”

Inspirations and Motivations

“Earlier in my career, people like Laura Crimmons, Lexi Mills and Paddy Moogan really got me excited about digital PR and still do to this day. Other people who influence me include my boss and co-founder of our company Tom Craig, who is always very measured, balanced and knowledgeable. I’m also inspired by my mum, who works harder than anyone I know, and by the four other members of my skydiving team (Sarah, James, Pete and Will) who are the only people who know what it’s like to work hard in your career and in our sports team!”

Female Role Models and Mental Health

“I recognise that, statistically, there are fewer women in the tech industry overall. However, in my personal experience, I see a lot of fantastic women – and men – in our industry who inspire me.

I think mental health has been a taboo topic in the past but we are certainly talking about it more openly now, which can only be a good thing. I do think we have a way to go in how we support those with mental health challenges but we’re certainly going in the right direction.

What Does the Future Hold?

“We’re starting the decade in what I perceive to be a much more positive environment for women in digital. The range of events now provided for females to help them further their skills and encourage them to consider more technical (historically male driven) careers is growing all the time, thanks to people like Areej AbuAli and the like who continue to champion the cause. Event organisers too are much more open in their requests for female speakers and driving increased diversity on conference stages – people like Kelvin Newman of Brighton SEO, for example, are providing more opportunities to women to speak and also supporting their needs with initiatives like the Brighton SEO creche (useful for parents of any gender of course).

Beyond events, my personal experience is that diversity is improving all the time in the workplace, too. Of course, I can only speak about my personal experience on this and don’t have access to data on how many females are working in digital overall, but I know that Impression as a business provides a range of support initiatives for its colleagues and is a champion of diversity in digital, doing things like investing in women-in-tech training and also working closely with a local Girls’ School to support young females and make them aware of opportunities available to them in digital.

Moving into 2021 and beyond, I anticipate a greater focus on supporting young women / girls by providing more information into digital careers. By this point in our industry, digital marketing has become a mainstay of business marketing more broadly and there are plenty of university degrees and other courses available in specific digital marketing topics, meaning it’s no longer a ‘new’ industry and therefore is much more accessible as a potential job choice for young girls, alongside other traditional careers like police officer or lawyer.”

You can find Laura on LinkedIn and Impression here: www.impression.co.uk

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