Jessica Pardoe podcast interview – starting your marketing career correctly, and avoiding burnout

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The brilliant Jessica Pardoe joins me on the show to discuss how best newcomers can start their marketing career, and how to avoid burnout too – as well as a few more tips thrown in!

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(Full transcript at bottom of page.)

Jessica is a PR Account Manager at Source PR in Cheshire, and you’ll regularly find her on social media sharing her knowledge, and helping others.

In this episode, we discuss:

  • Thinking of her own career, what the one thing is that she wishes she could go back and do differently when she started.
  • What she thinks some of the common misconceptions are that people have when starting their marketing careers.
  • One piece of advice she could give someone who is brand new to the industry.
  • Tips for newcomers to the industry who are often keen to progress quickly and preventing overwork.
  • What people can do to prevent burnout.
  • How has the pandemic changed PR?
  • Advice from Jess on how to settle into a new job when on-boarding is purely remote.

…and much more!

Useful Links:

Episode sponsored by Absolute Digital, check them out here: https://absolute.digital/

Podcast Anchor Page: https://anchor.fm/azeemdigitalasks

My Twitter page: https://twitter.com/AzeemDigital

My website: https://iamazeemdigital.com/

Sign up to “The Marginalised Marketer” newsletter: https://iamazeemdigital.com/the-marginalised-marketer-newsletter/

Jessica Twitter: https://twitter.com/jessicapardoePR

Episode Transcript:

Azeem Ahmad:
Hello. And welcome back to another episode of the Azeem Digital Asks podcast. Super excited. I have a brilliant guest with me today and she’s making her podcasting debut. So please listen to this episode. And when you finished, rewind it back to start and listen to it again 10 times, because she’ll love that. We’re talking all about starting your marketing career the right way and avoiding burnout with Jessica Pardoe.

Azeem Ahmad:
Before we begin, a quick word from the sponsor. This episode is sponsored by Absolute Digital media, a leading UK based digital marketing agency, specializing in search paper click and digital PR. With seven award wins under their belt already this year, they understand what it takes to make a business stand out from its competitors and generate greater visibility in return. Check them out. And I will drop a link to them in the show notes. Right, Jessica, welcome to the show.

Jessica Pardoe:
Hello. Thank you.

Azeem Ahmad:
How are you doing?

Jessica Pardoe:
I’m okay. Thank you. Yeah. Good.

Azeem Ahmad:
I’m very excited to be able to facilitate your podcasting debut. I’m excited to learn more from you. So let’s start right from the very beginning and give the listeners an introduction to yourself.

Jessica Pardoe:
Okay. Hello, I’m Jess. And I’m an account manager at Source PR, which is a lovely little PR and social media agency just based down in Cheshire.

Azeem Ahmad:
Awesome. Right. So we’re talking all about how you can start your marketing career the right way and how to avoid burnout. So let’s start from the very beginning then, Jessica. Do you prefer Jessica or do you prefer Jess?

Jessica Pardoe:
Either’s fine. But normally Jess.

Azeem Ahmad:
Okay. I’ll go with Jess. So Jess, thinking of your own career, what is one thing you wish you could go back and do differently when you started?

Jessica Pardoe:
I think if I was to say one thing, it would definitely be to look out for any red flags very much at the beginning of my career. It’s something I actually wrote about recently on my blog and it seemed to resonate with quite a lot of people. I wish that at the time I was better educated on them and that’s something that I am trying to help people with now too. And I say this because I had a bit of a bumpy start to my career with a few knocks to my confidence, unfortunately.

Jessica Pardoe:
And I think looking back, I wish that I’d just had ample training from the get go that could have helped me identify things that were potentially wrong and the things where I should have been getting help where I wasn’t. I don’t necessarily regret anything in my career, because I do think that you shouldn’t ever have any solid regrets. And ultimately, all of my experience has led me to where I am today. But I think if I could do things differently, I’d have done research into the industry a little bit more and knowing kind of what makes a good and bad employer from the beginning.

Azeem Ahmad:
Yeah. That’s brilliant. I couldn’t agree with you any more. I’d love to dig into that a little bit further then. So you mentioned it briefly there, but what would you say are some of the most common misconceptions that people have when they start their marketing careers?

Jessica Pardoe:
Well, I don’t know if this is just me thinking of my own career, my own experiences, but there seems to be a misconception that those starting out should know what to do straight away. I mean, certainly people I’ve spoken to privately on Twitter seem to have been thrown in very much to deep ends in their first roles in the industry.

Jessica Pardoe:
But in reality, PR isn’t really taught in schools and in universities, and definitely digital PR isn’t. So I think that some form of training should come a standard for all graduates and anyone coming into junior careers in marketing. I mean, even in other disciplines, such as general marketing. Although it’s as subject that a lot do study at university, that doesn’t mean that they’re going to come into a role straight away and exactly know how things work.

Jessica Pardoe:
The industry changes so often that really we need to nip that misconception in the bud right away and make sure that new starters are settled into their roles with the right support. As like I mentioned, things do change so often in marketing, in PR and SEO and all those other industries, I think we need to stop assuming that graduates are going to be able to come into a role and be able to do it from the get go. And I think that’s where a lot of problems can arise very early on.

Azeem Ahmad:
Yeah. Again, the listeners can’t see, but I’m nodding my head away. A lot of what you’re saying is resonating massively. Thank you for sharing. I’m temporarily going to side step and ask you a question that I haven’t prepared you for. Sorry.

Jessica Pardoe:
Okay.

Azeem Ahmad:
How much of that, so you mentioned there about people starting jobs, their first jobs, being expected to basically hit the ground running, how much of that do you think lies in the job descriptions that people see before they apply? Do you think the job descriptions are incorrect or correct and there’s misconceptions? How much of it do you think lies there?

Jessica Pardoe:
I think that with job descriptions, a lot of them are very detailed. And as a graduate and just speaking from experiences myself, I was willing to just kind of go into anything to get that experience that I knew I needed, because there’s always that real struggle of getting that experience under your belt initially, because a lot of places do want experience. So job descriptions themselves, they can be quite difficult to navigate and to know what you’re going into. Because often, and especially marketing, they have a lot of different responsibilities.

Jessica Pardoe:
But I think again, speaking from personal experience and what happened to me in my career, it would’ve been great to have initial training, even though that isn’t particularly specified. Because like I say, you can’t expect somebody to walk into a graduate role and know exactly what to do. Even though they might have applied for a role that says you need to be able to do this and that, I think if you’re applying for a junior role or something that’s postgraduate, there is a certain level of expectation there that you would be showing how to do that. And it wouldn’t be assumed that you’d know how to do it straight away, because that’s just simply not the case. You’ve just come out of university and you’re not going to know how to do certain things. That’s just the standard.

Azeem Ahmad:
Yeah. Another fantastic answer. I’m really glad this conversation is happening. So thank you again for sharing that. I think that leads me quite nicely onto my next question for you then. So if there was one piece of advice that you could give to somebody who is brand new to the industry or who is about to take their first steps into the industry, what would that be?

Jessica Pardoe:
I would say definitely, definitely, definitely do your research and make sure that you’re committing to a role that will treat you fairly and that holds all the right progression and training opportunities in place. I think as we’re beginning to speak about this a little bit more and certainly over the past year or so, I’ve really noticed that employers are beginning to talk more about what they’re doing for their employees mental health and how they’re training good people and offering ongoing training as well, which is really, really important because the industry is always changing.

Jessica Pardoe:
So I would say definitely, definitely do research and look out for that. And remember that your notice period as well is just as much for you as it is for your employer. So if you are on a three month probation, for example, that gives you ample time to make sure that you’re in the right role before you commit to anything long term. And I think that’s really important for new graduates and people who are just starting out in the industry to know.

Azeem Ahmad:
Oh, this is 24 carat solid gold. This is brilliant. Thanks for sharing. So let’s move on and let’s talk about burnout and using newcomers as an example. So certainly in my experience, what I’ve seen is that many newcomers to the industry, pandemic aside for a moment, they’re quite keen to progress really quickly. And some will even overwork, which does often lead to burnout. So in terms of time management, what advice would you give to somebody in new to the industry in how best to manage their time?

Jessica Pardoe:
Let me just start by saying that I totally get that. And I totally get wanting to get ahead in your career. I’ve very much been like that myself. But what I would say is you don’t want to start off on the wrong foot. So if you start off by overworking yourself, coming in early, leaving late, that’s very much showing that that will be expected from you moving forward. And as you kind of get into your career a little bit more, if you’re staying at the same place, you’re going to realize that you don’t want that to become the norm for you.

Jessica Pardoe:
But to go back to your question, I would a hundred percent say, learn how to switch off. I would never endorse having your work emails or Slack on your personal phone, because I think you need that down time to think about personal life. And spend time with your friends and family as well, which is really important for mental health. But one thing I do always think, and this might be a little bit controversial, but here we go, is that if you’re having to work late every night, then you’re either not good at managing your time or you’re being given too much to do. And often with people who are new into the industry, it’s often the latter.

Jessica Pardoe:
So both of those are fundamental problems and something that should be nipped in the bud. And it is the responsibility of your employer or your manager to identify that and to help you so you don’t feel that pressure to be starting early and working late. Nobody should have to do that, despite what the PR industry might have you believe. So if you’re finding that’s the case, I would definitely advise reaching out to someone within your place of work or indeed someone without… Outside of your work as well. My DMS are always open to anyone who thinks their situation might not be quite right and wants to talk to somebody about it. But I would always advise reaching out to somebody if you feel that something’s not right.

Azeem Ahmad:
Yeah. Again, I find myself agreeing furiously. Absolutely brilliant. I wanted to pick on something that you just said there. Pick on is probably the wrong phrase, but one of the things you mentioned there was either not managing time correctly or being given too much work to do.

Jessica Pardoe:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Azeem Ahmad:
So like I just said, complete agree. I definitely think it falls on either side of that fence. Speaking of the latter, if a newcomer to the industry, keen to impress, but has a lot of work on their plate, recognizes that they’ve got a lot of work. How do advise they bring that up with the people that they report into in a professional way, rather than just saying, “Oh, I haven’t hit this deadline because I’ve got too much work to do.” What’s the best way that somebody can approach that?

Jessica Pardoe:
Look, I don’t think it’s an easy thing. I’ll just say that from the start. I think it’s very difficult, especially if you’re new into a company. You have to expect that it’s not going to be easy to say, “Look, I think I’m doing too much or I’ve not got enough time to do what you’re asking me to do.” But I would say speak to someone you trust. And that might not be your direct manager, it might perhaps be the managing director or even somebody from another department. And I would say, “This is my experience. And I’m finding it quite difficult. Is there anything that you can advise?”

Jessica Pardoe:
You might not feel comfortable going straight to your boss straight away, because that might not be easy for you. But I would say talk to somebody. And as a manager myself as well, I would really appreciate honesty from my execs. If they are struggling to get things done, then the best thing that they can do is let me know about it. Because often it will just be the case that perhaps they’ve got a little bit too much on their plate or that things are taking longer than we initially thought. And that’s not a problem and that’s definitely not on them, but it’s something that we should look to nip in the bud straight away.

Jessica Pardoe:
So I would say talk to somebody that you trust. If you’re really finding it difficult to talk to someone within your agency, perhaps reach out to anyone else within the industry and ask if they’ve had similar experiences. And they might be able to help as well. But either way, I would say definitely talk to someone, nip it in the bud as soon as you can, and make sure that your problems are heard straight away, because your managers will normally appreciate that as well.

Azeem Ahmad:
Yes, absolutely. Open lines of communication are key. Thanks for sharing that. Let’s look at the other side of the fence then, working too hard leading into burnout. How would you suggest that people prevent this, especially when they’re starting out?

Jessica Pardoe:
Well, like I said, I’d say a thousand percent create that separation between your work life and your personal life. One of the big things for me is not having emails on your phone and that kind of thing. No Slack, no emails, not even talking about work outside of working hours. I think that’s really important because it helps create that switch off and it helps you to have time to think about anything but work. And that creates a really good balance in your life.

Jessica Pardoe:
I’d also say that if you are feeling burnt out, then like I say, talk to a manager about it because they might not even know. And from experience, talking about these things definitely does help. So yeah, I’d say my two top things would be making sure that you keep your work life separate so that you have time to switch off and talking to people. And like I say, maybe even people outside of your workplace. And my DMs are absolutely always open for anybody who wants to talk about such things.

Azeem Ahmad:
Brilliant. Thank you for sharing. And if you’re listen to this, I strongly suggest that you take Jess up on that offer and reach out to her. Being as we’ve got time, I want to pick your brains about a couple more things. I’m enjoying putting you on the spot, because I’m really enjoying this episode. You mentioned earlier on about the pandemic changing PR.

Jessica Pardoe:
Yes.

Azeem Ahmad:
What did you mean by that?

Jessica Pardoe:
I think that probably the biggest thing that the pandemic has changed, and everyone will be able to resonate with this, is everyone going to working from home. That required a lot of trust from our employees. And it also required us to give ourselves better work life balance because it’s so easy to start work early and finish late when your work is at home, where you are spending the most time. So I think from the pandemic, it’s been really important to learn how to combat that and how to create a good separation, whether that’s actively putting away your things at the end of the night or whether it’s having, if you’re fortunate enough to have an office, closing the door on that office and then not worrying about it for the rest of the night.

Jessica Pardoe:
And I’m not saying as well that you should feel worried about your job or that it should be bringing you stress outside of work. What I am saying is that it’s really important not to think about work all the time, because then it’ll consume you. And this is coming from someone who absolutely loves their job. I love what I do and I feel happy every day at work. But if I think about work all the time, then there’s every chance that I will start to stop enjoying it in the way that I do. So I think that’s really important.

Jessica Pardoe:
And as more of us continue to work from home, even post lockdown and that kind of thing, I think it’s really important to just keep on creating that separation and just acknowledging the change as well. The pandemic has changed PR, it has changed the way that we work and it has changed the way that we do things. So I think understanding that and giving yourself some slack and learning how to navigate. And I hate the phrase, but the new normal is really important. And I think that’s something to bear in mind.

Azeem Ahmad:
Brilliant. Yeah. And I presume when you say, give yourself some slack, you do not mean the conversational chat app, of course.

Azeem Ahmad:
The last thing I wanted to ask you then before I let you go, because sadly we are coming towards the end of the episode. This is something selfishly that I would love to learn more from you about because for context, during the pandemic, I move jobs. And I’m very much a people person so I enjoy the fact that if I was starting a new job, for example, traditionally, I’d be setting a meeting room, having an induction, blah, blah. However, all of my onboarding was remote.

Azeem Ahmad:
I imagine as things are now, things aren’t looking good from a pandemic point of view, let’s say devil’s advocate. And I hate that phrase, but things worsen again, people have to stick to remote working to keep everybody safe. Somebody’s starting in the industry brand new and is starting remotely. So all of the introductions and learning is going to behind 13, 14 inch laptop screen. What advice would you give to somebody in how best to navigate their first steps into the industry from behind a computer screen?

Jessica Pardoe:
I think that, and I hate to use the phrase “It depends,” because it’s so cliche. But it really does depend on how you feel about the virtual learning and virtual working as to how you would kind of deal with that. But for me, I personally do, I am the same as you. I like to be in the office. I like to have connections with my colleagues and chat and be able to catch up. And I remember reading something that Zoom in particular can be quite difficult for our mental health, because it’s really hard to read body language over a screen.

Jessica Pardoe:
So I think taking things like that into account and perhaps looking at varying up the ways that you communicate with your team, especially as you kind of come into a new role and get to know those people is really important. So it might be that certain meetings are done over Zoom. It might be that you have more informal phone calls that you are not waiting around to take because that can be anxiety inducing as well, or it might even just be keeping in touch over platforms, such as Slack. We use Hangouts every day and we just kind of chat informally, either about work or about other things.

Jessica Pardoe:
And I find that that really helped me keep connected in the pandemic. And I think for a new starter, that would be really important. Because it’s kind of with your colleagues, but without the pressure of having to appear on Zoom or having to think about the way that you’re talking over the phone, for example. So that would be my piece of advice. And that’s coming from someone who does kind of thrive of human connection. I find that vary in the ways you communicate does really, really help. And that has helped me and hopefully it will help any new starters to the industry as well. But fingers crossed there shan’t be another lockdown. I would like to think that we won’t be in that situation again. But like you said, you absolutely never know.

Azeem Ahmad:
Yeah. 100%. I hope there isn’t as well. Jess, absolutely brilliant. Genuinely one of the most enjoyable episodes that I’ve recorded. So thank you very much for sharing your knowledge, your wisdom. If people are listening to this and they’re thinking, “I would love to connect with you, I’d love to follow you, find out more about you.” How can they do that?

Jessica Pardoe:
I would say that I’m most active on Twitter, so you can find me at Jessica Pardoe PR. And I’m also Jessica Pardoe on LinkedIn as well. So if you wanted to connect with me there, that’s absolutely fine. And while I’m here, I’d also like to say that you might like to pop my agency a little follow on Twitter too. They’re at Source_tweets. That’s Source_tweets. And I’d really appreciate a little follow for them too. Thank you.

Azeem Ahmad:
Well, I’ll send you an invoice after for that. I’m only joking. This has been brilliant, Jess. Thank you so much. I’m very pleased and honoured that you chose this podcast to do your podcasting debut. I can tell you this is going to be a hit with the listeners, for sure. I’ve been nodding furiously. Once again, from me to you, thank you so much. And if anybody’s listening to this thinking, “I would love to convert us with this person,” reach out, do it. She is brilliant, very kind, very helpful. And as you already heard, full of knowledge. I’m going to shut up now and I’m going to give you the last word on your episode.

Jessica Pardoe:
Thank you. I would just say exactly what you’ve just said. If anyone’s feeling that they might be at risk of burnout or if they feel like what their situation is, isn’t quite right for them, then please, please do reach out to me. I’m always happy to chat.

Jessica Pardoe:
And I do chat to quite a lot of people on Twitter as well about these kinds of things. I like to say that my DMs are quite a safe space. And if anyone feels like they want to talk about something that they wouldn’t want to talk to anyone else about, then absolutely, I’m your person. So feel free to DM me on Twitter or find me on LinkedIn. I’m happy to chat on either.