work placement, work based learning, placement, student, marketingMarketing student: Work Based Learning at Hillyer McKeown

I’m Jess, a second year student from the University of Chester studying Events and Marketing Management BA Combined Honours. During my first year of studies at university I developed a passion for marketing and as part of one of my modules this year I had to complete a work placement of my choice.

I am currently in the final week of my marketing placement with Hillyer McKeown (HM) and feel that I have learned so much in the short time that I have been here…

Week 1 – settling in

In the first week I mainly focused on developing knowledge of the brand. Prior to my placement I had a basic knowledge of the business and what it was about. However, after exploring its social media channels such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn in my first week I began to understand what Hillyer McKeown really stands for. After studying the company’s tone of voice and content style I was given free rein to write content to be published on different social media channels. Also undertaking a competitor analysis, I began to see where HM sits in the market amongst their competitors. I planned content and got to use the chosen software that HM uses for scheduling. The main campaign that I had input on was Mental Health Awareness Week (#MHAW18).

I enjoyed having an input into this campaign as I believe that it is really important to raise awareness on this matter, especially in the workplace. I got to see that HM wasn’t just raising awareness on social media but in the office too.

Fruit was provided in the communal kitchen areas throughout the week and there was the opportunity for employees to air their issues with Mel from HR over a coffee.


Week 2 – getting involved

As I moved into my second week at HM I attended two events. On Monday I attended an HM Growth event about getting a business ready to sell. Although this was not my assigned area of work, I found the event really interesting and got to meet and speak to some of HM’s potential clients about their business experiences. On Tuesday I attended the HR Breakfast Seminar about the Future of HR. It was a joint event hosted by HM’s Justine, Head of Employment Law, and JVP, recruitment specialists. They covered lots of really exciting topics and although not many of them were related directly to marketing it was really interesting to see how marketing links so closely with HR.

During the event I found inspiration to write a blog for HM Views on the millennial generation in the workplace. Being a millennial myself I found this extremely thought-provoking and began to look into my personal outlook on the workplace and how it connects with the theory.

During the remainder of this week I adapted HM’s social media strategy and planned content for social media that would begin to implement the strategy the following week.


Week 3 – gaining more knowledge

During the third week of my placement I helped Bill Pearson, business coach for HM Growth, to suggest ideas to a client on how they can improve their marketing and ideas for potential events that they could begin to implement in their business. I felt that my opinion on the matter was valued and really taken on board. On Wednesday I got involved in my first conference call with a company that HM use for website development. I also wrote another blog on upcoming technology for a campaign later in the summer. To start with the thought of this petrified me (as I am not a techie person and the blog was a lot longer than the last one), however, with continual support from my line manager Kathy I was able to gain knowledge on the subject through thorough research and completed the blog feeling much more comfortable with the subject.


Week 4 – how time flies!

I am in my final week at HM.

This week I will be continuing with my work on social media and looking into the analytics of my posts so I can see what attracted the most engagement. I am also visiting HM’s Liverpool office for a day where I will be working closely with Kathy on projects in Liverpool.

I feel that I have learnt so much more about marketing, how it all fits together and the running of a business in general from all of the practical experiences I have gained. Although I had worked in an office environment before it is completely different to the office environment at HM. Different departments sit together, therefore I got to not only communicate with the marketing department but also IT, Administration and Accounts.

As my placement is closing, I feel that I have really been able to test the theory that I have learnt in lectures, such as McKinsey’s GE matrix, seeing how that comes into play in real life situations.

HM has exceeded my expectations by supporting me throughout my time but also giving me my own independence and trusting me to complete tasks alone. During this experience I have gained an insight into B2B marketing and have come to realise that this is something that I would like to go into post-graduation.