Delegate Review: Rachel Bayley, HML

In today’s post, Rachel Bayley, PR and Communications Manager at HML, shares her experience as a delegate at last month’s Marketing Leaders Masterclass in Leeds.

Rachel Bayley, HML

Don’t judge a LinkedIn message until you’ve properly read it!

I’ll start with a confession; when I first received the message via LinkedIn from John that I was invited to the Marketing Leaders Masterclass in Leeds, my first thought was “great, more LinkedIn spam”. LinkedIn is by far the best social media channel for the company I work at (HML, the UK and Ireland’s leading mortgage servicing company based in Skipton), but I feel it has gone a bit spammy and Facebook-like. I’m now seeing inspirational quotes and photos, which is great for the other social media channels, but I don’t want to see the same type of updates on LinkedIn too.

My second thought after reading John’s message was “I can’t spare time out of the office.” However, whereas actual LinkedIn spam is packed with badly-written invitations to connect and dubious-sounding webinars, it was clear when I actually read John’s message and saw the delegate list that this was an organised, quality event hosted at the impressive Elmwood in Leeds.

Asda, Provident, The Co-operative Group, JD Williams and Irwin Mitchell were just some of the brands attending the masterclass, a delegate list I couldn’t really argue with! So I took the plunge and, deciding I hadn’t invested in my own development for a while, put myself down as an attendee.

I was greeted by Elmwood’s bright and modern offices, its endless marketing and brand awards and lots of tea, coffee and biscuits – the staple diet of many of us in PR and marketing. It was a good start.

Too demanding?

Duncan McCallum for McCallum Layton was the chair and kicked off proceedings by asking if research is any better now than it used to be? He urged delegates not to crumble to the pressure of the demand for instant research results by throwing a planned and considered approach out of the window. I think his words certainly resonated with me – we’re in a sector which wants data, comments, feedback etc now now now, and is sometimes willing to except a lower quality for the sake of speed. A balance certainly needs to be achieved and Duncan’s words provided food for thought.

A lesson on neuroscience

I’m not a science person – or a mathematical one for that matter, so I always knew I’d go into a career that required good communication and writing skills. However, Sarah Dear and Simon Preece not only made neuroscience fascinating, but also effortlessly linked it back to brand perception.

This was by far my favourite presentation of the day. I’d recommend you contact John McCambley for the slides and I certainly cannot do it justice here, but how something as simple as the shape of a box around a brand name can change a shopper’s perception was certainly interesting. Working in a very niche B2B sector means I don’t get involved with consumer marketing, but I think the next time I go food shopping I’ll think about the experience in a whole different way (did you know we only read seven words on an average 40-minute shop as we pick up items depending on their recognisable colour and shape?).

A thought-provoking event

I won’t discuss all of the other fantastic speakers and their presentations or this would be a long blog indeed, but the fact I was excitedly discussing the half-day event with my colleagues upon my return meant it was well worth me taking a second look at that LinkedIn message – and booking half a day out of my schedule. In order for the marketing and PR sector to keep evolving, we need to get out of our busy daily bubbles and connect with our peers to learn and develop – the free Marketing Leaders Masterclasses are a fantastic way to do this and I look forward to seeing when the next one will be.

If you would like to attend the Brand & Audience Engagement Masterclass on 14th July 2015, please register your details.



#MLleeds Round-up

The Marketing Leaders Masterclass officially kicked-off in style yesterday at Elmwood’s Leeds office with a fantastic show of support from some of the North’s biggest brands and marketing agencies.

The event in association with Network Marketing (Headline Sponsor) brought together a group of leading experts from the world of digital, social, creative, PR and consumer insight  – who delivered a series of insightful and thought-provoking sessions.

The senior delegation included representatives from brands such as Asda, Co-operative Group, Ernst & Young, Irwin Mitchell, Sky Bet, JD Williams, Provident, TD Direct, Wilko, JCT600 and Victoria Plumb to name but a few, as well as the CIM’s chair of Mid-Yorkshire Branch and Professor of Marketing Anthony Patterson from University of Liverpool.

I would like to personally thank all the speakers and delegates for taking part; Elmwood for allowing the event to be hosted at their beautiful office, Duncan McCallum from McCallum Layton for doing a brilliant job as the official chair, and finally Network Marketing for supporting #MLleeds as the official Headline Sponsor.

All speaker presentations can be viewed below via Slideshare

Please click here to view the extended commentary on the talk by Duncan McCallum, Founding Partner, McCallum Layton.

If you’d like to take part in the next scheduled masterclass which will focus on ‘Brand Engagement & User Experience’, please drop me a message.

Preview: Marketing Leaders Masterclass #MLleeds

Next week, senior marketers from some of the UK’s biggest brands will come together to listen to five of the region’s leading experts on digital, social, PR, creative and consumer insight, at the official launch of the Marketing Leaders Masterclass.

To set the scene for the masterclass, I wanted to produce this blog post to share my own personal experience behind the creation of the event.

What was the rationale behind the masterclass?

As a marketer who has always had to travel to London for events, I personally wanted to create something that would provide senior marketers from across the North of England with a unique learning and networking opportunity; one in which they could gain a greater insight into the bigger picture of marketing – how everything must work together in order to be truly effective,

Last year at a conference in Turkey, one talk touched on the need for marketers to not work in silos, and this sums it up nicely – marketers need to have a greater insight into how digital, social, PR, brand and consumer insight link together to create powerful consumer experiences that drive commercial growth.

What makes the event different to others?

All events have a value associated with them, and quite simply, I wanted this masterclass to provide delegates with a format and location that allowed them to gain the wider marketing insight that would help them to become more effective in their day-to-day roles.

We have some incredible brands and agencies in the North of England, so this masterclass enables delegates to come together from across multi-disciplines and sectors – in a format (3-hours) that suits their busy schedules.


I would like to thank everyone who has made the masterclass possible: Network Marketing for being the Headline Sponsor, Elmwood for allowing the event to be hosted at their amazing office in Leeds, yet most importantly – all the expert speakers and delegates!

#MLleeds Speaker Spotlight: Simon Preece

Simon PreeceWith just under two weeks to go until the Marketing Leaders Masterclass, Elmwood’s Director of Effectiveness Simon Preece reveals the importance of trusting your instincts and challenging yourself everyday.

What inspired you to get into a career in creative?

“Many years ago I was working client side in product and strategic marketing at Asda. I found that I loved the creative process of product development and range development so much that I wanted to do more of the fun stuff day in and day out. I spoke to Jonathan Sands at Elmwood and the rest is history. I’m still here 23 years later and I still get a buzz everyday.”

Best advice you would give to a someone starting their career in creative?

“Be brave. Never be afraid to ask child-like questions like ‘Why?’. Why is something done in that way? Always look at things with a fresh perspective, and look at the wider world around you. Never stick purely to your competitive set. Regularly walk in your customers shoes, take their journey to see what they see, and experience what they do. What you learn will be invaluable.”

What is the best career advice that has helped you?

“Challenge yourself everyday, go beyond your comfort zone and make your own decisions. Trust your instincts, always listen to the little voice in the back of your head. If something doesn’t feel right then don’t let it drift. If something does feel right, be sure to act on it.”

What is your biggest pain-point about the industry?

“Design is the seventh most important ingredient for success in UK companies. It’s the second most important for rapidly growing businesses. Yet design is not represented on most boards of directors. Brand strategy and design is often seen as a cost rather than an investment in securing competitive advantage. People think they can buy it like tins of beans or any other commodity item. However, we know that a highly strategic and fluid creative process builds real equity. Just look at Ben & Jerry’s when it was sold – its turnover was only $227m but the sale price was $320m. So clearly brand value counts.”

Your dream client and why?

“I have already had the pleasure of working with my dream client a few years ago when Adam Crozier was CEO of The FA. Myself and my team worked with him on rebranding The FA, the England Team and The FA Cup. He was an inspirational character who had a clear vision for the future of football. I was inspired to take up coaching, and 12 years later I’m still coaching under 12’s five-a-side football.”

Click here to confirm your interest in attending the Marketing Leaders Masterclass

#MLleeds Speaker Spotlight: Sarah Dear

Sarah DearIn today’s post, Sarah Dear, Managing Director at Elmwood – who will be speaking at this month’s Marketing Leaders Masterclass in Leeds, reveals why she relishes the opportunity to work with brands who are brave and have a vision to do something unique.

What inspired you to get into a career in creative?

“I accidentally ended up in this career (it’s a long story), but I’m delighted that I stumbled into it because I love it. You get to work with some amazing people, use your brain to solve complex problems, and create work you can be really proud of that makes a difference to people’s every day lives. I can honestly say that every day is an adventure and I’ve never once been bored in 23 years.”

Best advice you would give to a someone starting their career in creative?

“Make sure you have a point of view and an opinion and that you challenge what is presented to you. Curiosity is fundamentally important. Look at challenges from all different perspectives to find the best solution.”

Best advice you have ever received, which has helped you in your career?

“Jonathan Sands, our Chairman, gave me this piece of advice many years ago. He said that it’s important to make sure you continually do things that scare you and make you feel uncomfortable. You develop the most when you’re challenging yourself. He was right – but don’t tell him that.”

What is your biggest pain-point about the industry ?

“Creating effective branding is a complex process which is largely under-valued. It’s not always viewed as an investment that requires proper consideration to get right. We are ‘the world’s most effective brand design consultancy’ (a bold claim, but true!) because of the robust processes we have, the quality of our team members and the passion and dedication we put into every single project and client.”

Your dream client and why?

“My dream client is any client who is brave and has a vision to do something unique. A client who wants to work in a collaborative way throughout the process and values the impact that great creative work can have on their business. It’s also good to have fun along the way as it makes the whole process so much more enjoyable.”

 Click here to confirm your interest in attending the Marketing Leaders Masterclass


#MLleeds Speaker Spotlight: Ian Lloyd

Ian LloydAs part of the build-up to next month’s Marketing Leaders Masterclass, I put a series of questions to our industry experts, in order to reveal what inspires and drives them each day.

In today’s post, Ian Lloyd, Director of Digital Operations at WMG takes centre stage.


What inspired you to get into digital?

“The ‘internet’ has always fascinated me. I’ve been drawn to it from my early twenties (when the whole internet thing was just starting), and I gravitated towards a degree which included a mix of computer studies, library studies (which turns out to be in a simple way how Search Engines work) and business studies. From my degree I did a year’s placement in web design which then led onto being further introduced into ‘the internet’. Over the years the digital industry has bloomed and given me an opportunity to grow a fantastic career within an exciting and fast paced environment.”

Best advice you would give to anyone starting out in digital?

“Work hard and be very enthusiastic; when you get home – work hard and read. My attitude coming into WMG seven years ago was that I would work harder than everyone else. This was Dr Dre’s approach in the studio, and I followed the same mentality with digital.”

Your dream client and why?

“Paul Smith – I love their clothes and brand. I like the approach they adopt – art, culture, creativity with a very commercial focus.”

Click here to confirm your interest in attending the Marketing Leaders Masterclass

Marketing Leaders Masterclass Launches in Leeds

I’m delighted to announce that some of the UK’s biggest brands and industry leaders will be taking part in next month’s Marketing Leaders Masterclass, which takes place at Elmwood’s Leeds office on Tuesday 21st April 2015.

The masterclass in association with Network Marketing (Headline Sponsor) will provide delegates with a unique integrated marketing experience, as five industry experts share their latest thinking across a number of hot topics including digital, consumer insight, social media, PR and creative.


  • Ian Lloyd, Director of Digital Operations at WMG
  • Simon Preece, Director of Effectiveness & Sarah Dear, Managing Director at Elmwood
  • Laurra Davis, Creative Director at Brilliant Social Media
  • Duncan McCallum, Founding Partner at McCallum Layton
  • Stuart Bruce, International PR Advisor at Stuart Bruce Associates

Delegates include:

  • Head of Insight & Reporting, Asda
  • Consumer Media Relations Manager, Asda
  • Customer Experience Development Manager, Sky Bet
  • Senior Marketing Manager (Convenience), Morrisons Supermarkets
  • Senior Marketing Manager (Planning), Morrisons Supermarkets
  • PR Manager, Morrisons Supermarkets
  • Head of Community & Social Media Marketing, Premier Farnell
  • Market & Consumer Insight Manager, JD Williams
  • Head of Brand (UK & International), Quorn Foods
  • Head of Digital Marketing, Victoria Plumb
  • SEO Manager, Victoria Plumb
  • Head of Customer Planning, Insight & Development, Wilko
  • Digital Marketing Campaign Manager, Provident
  • Head of Marketing, WageDayAdvance
  • Customer Engagement & Retention Manager, WageDayAdvance
  • Brand & Marketing Manager, JCT600
  • Research Manager, Shop Direct
  • Director, instantprint
  • Associate Director (Retail Marketing), Jones Lang LaSalle
  • Chair, Mid Yorkshire Branch, Chartered Institute of Marketing
  • Director of Marketing, University of Bradford
  • Professor of Marketing, University of Liverpool
  • Head of Marketing, University of Leeds
  • Publisher – Prolific North

Click here to confirm your interest in attending the Marketing Leaders Masterclass