A Day in the Life of an Account Manager

At Armitage Communications, we’re keen to share with you the different roles we have within the team. From Account Directors through to Marketing Specialists, we have a range of people performing a variety of tasks on a daily basis.

In this blog, we’ll share with you Rose’s typical day. Rose started in PR over five years ago as a Junior Account Executive and is now a Junior Account Manager. 

Morning:

When I arrive in the morning, the first thing I do is check my emails for any urgent items which need to be addressed immediately. I then look online for any news relevant to our accounts, especially around robotics and automation technology, logistics and telecommunications.

It’s difficult not to get sidetracked into reading too much of the news - but also really important to get an overview of what is happening in the industries to provide context for our campaigns and articles.

Next I check in with the members of our Robotics, Telecommunications and Logistics teams to make sure we are all aligned on the high priority items of the day. If there are any difficulties across any projects then I have to think carefully about what the next best action is to take. More often than not it takes a small change to resolve a challenge, which in the moment can feel enormous, but usually it’s a small part of the overall picture and once addressed, it’s on to the next project. If I’m really stuck on what to do, then I can ask an Account Director.

Often the next project will involve writing of some kind. It could be a blog, feature article, opinion piece, case study or script. Depending on the content specifications, it could take up to eight hours to research, plan and draft the piece, or as little as half an hour.

Afternoon:

In the afternoon, I could be pitching features to editors, setting up press release distributions or spending some time on a Skype call with a client to run through briefs for content, events or campaign strategy. 

As an Account Manager, it’s my responsibility to ensure that my clients are well represented in the press and that all content aligns with their key messaging. Usually I will scan the media packs for relevant features to pitch for. Common features I’d go for include ‘Digitalisation in food manufacturing’, or ‘How to address the skills shortage,’ through to “Warehouse automation’ and ‘Robotics’ across a range of magazines including Controls, Drives and Automation, Logistics Manager and Food & Drink Network UK. There are lots of nationals which occasionally feature relevant news which we can re-actively pitch against  - recently we got a client a piece of coverage in the Times!

Either myself or the Account Executive will draft a synopsis for the article and email it over to the editor. We usually wait a few days before calling to follow up (unless it's a reactive pitch of course, in which case we have to be super quick before the news is no longer relevant). If the editor is interested in the content, then we’ll find out the deadline, word count and any images they’ll need and make sure we note this to remind ourselves to deliver on time.

The brief for the article will be outlined to one of our writers unless we have time to write it ourselves. Then once drafted, the article is sent to the client for approval before submitting to the editor along with any images they need such as headshots or real-world examples of the product in action. 

During the day I can often have a Skype call diarised, and I make sure to prepare in good time. I read through any attachments or notes in the invite, and write out any questions beforehand that I anticipate I will need to ask to glean the relevant information from the client to execute the project effectively. These 30 minutes to an hour of preparation time are what can make the difference between quality Account Management and last minute, rushed Account Management which can lead to lots of revisions and a frustrated client. 

The fewer the revisions, the better the value.

Towards the end of the day I review the items I have completed and mark them as done on the work in progress (WIP) sheet. I also consider what projects will need to be completed the next morning. Having deadlines set against each project in the WIP helps to inform my priorities and leads to a much higher client satisfaction rate as this kind of attention to detail and organisation means the work is delivered in good time. 

If I had to sum up what the role of Account Manager requires in a few words, I’d say flexibility, problem-solving abilities, creativity and a passion for nurturing positive client relationships. It helps when you enjoy the accounts which you work on, and have an interest in the subject matter, which I definitely do.

Did I mention I love robots?

If this sounds like a role you’d enjoy and you’re interested in potentially joining us, send your C.V. to [email protected]


Five trends in industrial robotics that are helping to transform manufacturing

Today a Meltwater search of ‘robotics’ headlines tallies 24 results across 12 titles including BBC News, Financial Times and HR magazine. We’re dedicated to following the robot trends across all industries - whether it’s AI being used in finance or robot skeletons being used to help paralysed patients walk again. However, as an agency we are particularly focused on the manufacturing industry where many of our clients are helping UK companies to achieve faster and more flexible production.

There are a number of areas where robotic technology is developing at a rapid rate due to a demand for greater flexibility and speed.  It was difficult to come up with only five because there are many different industries within UK manufacturing that have all got the potential to use robots. Nevertheless, we managed to narrow it down. Here are the five that we think are the most exciting to track right now:

Collaborative robots
Initially collaborative robots conjure up visions of smaller robots working alongside people. There are a number of models which have been developed to bring the collaboration to many new areas of production such as electronics, pharmaceutical and automotive as well as small to medium sized manufacturers or workshops. Some of these are able to react to potential collisions and others are ergonomically designed so that if a collision occurs they won’t impact the co-worker. 

Lesser known collaborative robots are the large-scale industrial sized robots which are fitted with sensor technology so that they can stop before a human gets within a certain radius. There are even researchers who are exploring code which make robots interact closely with humans - see Madeline Gannon’s work here.

If larger robots are able to collaborate with us, then we could be lifting cars with a wave of our hands in no time.

Machine tending
Robots are able to be adapted into different configurations according to the needs of a customer. In the machine tending industry, there are many different end tools required and robot manufacturers are creating cells which are especially adaptable for this purpose. 

There is also a growing skills gap. In this industry many companies are introducing robots to perform the manual loading and unloading so that the skilled employees are able to use their expertise to perform other work steps.

Digital maintenance
With the advent of smartphones and 4G, the possibilities for maintenance engineers, factory managers and CEOs to communicate with elements around the factory floor has expanded. When 5G lands, expect more possibilities. But for now, we are able to share with you that remotely monitoring robot performance is a thing. This is achieved using data analysis and as robots are basically told what to do via a form of data (code), it is possible to analyse this data and provide insightful statistics such as how fast the robots are performing and how many parts have been processed.

A lot of us are getting used to analysing data in the form of social media analytics, for example - if there can be this much insight into engagements on smartphones to drive changes in the way we interact with each other, then analysis of robotics performance could mean great changes for the way that manufacturing is performed - and all at the tap of a screen.

Warehouse logistics
As many of us are ordering goods online whether it’s new clothes or a new sofa, warehouses are having to quickly adapt to manage all of the incoming orders. Warehouse automation has become the differentiator for many online brands. Leading names Ocado and Amazon, for example, have invested heavily in robotic technology. Ocado even has its own innovation department within which they are developing their own robots. 

As more of us come to rely on shopping being delivered to our door, greater numbers of warehouses are going to need robots to maintain their position in the market.

Here’s a video of Ocado’s robots in action: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4DKrcpa8Z_E

Food and beverage
As food trends proliferate from veganism and vegetarianism through to the paleo diet and sugar-free, the demand on food and beverage brands to continue to churn out relevant products means flexibility is key.

Robots are adept at providing flexibility. They can pick, pack and place products using vision technology which recognises various shapes and sizes. It all comes down to the programming - which is taking less and less time thanks to innovative programming software. Robots also bring the speed - so if a confectionery brand needs to release a timely limited edition chocolate bar, they can do so without too much hassle.

To understand more about what robots have to offer the food and beverage industry, watch this video from Wired https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SKBHnbYo-4s


Five good reasons to consider apprenticeships

With the tendency of many schools to focus on academic qualifications as a route to a good career, the value of vocational education is often overlooked. This is a shame, because vocational qualifications and training in the form of apprenticeships can often provide a valuable foothold into the real world of work, equipping young people with skills and experience learned literally ‘on the job’.

In this article, we look at five great reasons to consider apprenticeships and explain why vocational qualifications can offer an equally valid alternative to their academic counterparts even up to degree level.

Reason 1 – You learn by doing

While classroom-based teaching suits some people, it can often be a turn-off for those with a more hands-on approach to learning. Vocational qualifications and work-based learning provide the opportunity to discover not just why things work in theory, but also how they how they work in practice. Especially when training is conducted in the workplace, there is the opportunity to learn from the very best teachers – the people who do the task as part of their actual daily job – and to gain honest and informed feedback on your performance.

In many cases, this will entail working alongside people from different backgrounds, age groups and education, introducing an added dimension of interpersonal skills training that can prove invaluable in later life. The ability to communicate with mixed groups of people, for example, is a key skill needed in management, which is why you will often find many senior managers in many different walks of life who started their careers as apprentices.

Reason 2 - Find out what you want to do – and what you don’t

Getting hands-on into a role is a great way of realising that the lifelong ambition you’d been aiming may not be your true calling in life. Steve Wilding, now Field Sales Manager for ABB Measurement & Analytics in the UK and Ireland, sees his apprenticeship as the starting point for his career in engineering sales, after originally having wanted to be a draftsman.

Says Steve: “I was lucky enough to get an apprentice technician role with Vickers, which at the time manufactured electric motors for aerospace and defence applications. At the start, I saw this as a great way of fulfilling my ambition of becoming a draftsman.”

“However, after having worked in several positions around the company, including positions on the factory floor, I realised by the time I got to the design department that I was much more interested in other areas of the company’s activities. Luckily, my apprenticeship gave me scope to choose something else - had I come in straight from school or university, I may well have ended up being stuck in a role I didn’t like.”

It was also Steve’s experience as an apprentice that gave him his next role, which led to the start of a life on the road from which he has never looked back.

“After working in internal sales with Vickers, I took a position with Bourdon, a French manufacturer of instrumentation equipment, becoming sales office manager within a year and then going on the road as a sales engineer. It is this role that really laid the foundations for my career with ABB and a job that I really love doing.”

Reason 3 – Get ahead

After undertaking an apprenticeship with ABB’s robotics business, Louis Novakovic now specialises in programming ABB’s dual-arm YuMi collaborative robots. You can read about his experiences here: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/how-were-putting-young-people-path-robotic-future-abb-robotics-uk/
After undertaking an apprenticeship with ABB’s robotics business, Louis Novakovic now specialises in programming ABB’s dual-arm YuMi collaborative robots. You can read about his experiences here: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/how-were-putting-young-people-path-robotic-future-abb-robotics-uk/

While university degrees are often touted as the passport for high salaries and quick advancement, there is no real substitute for experience. 

Some of the UK’s most prolific business leaders started as apprentices. Consider, for example, JCB Chairman, Lord Bamford who as Anthony Bamford, started his career as an apprentice for agricultural machinery manufacturer Massey Ferguson. Or Andrew Reynolds Smith, previously CEO of GKN Automotive and now CEO of engineering company Smiths Group, who began his working life as an apprentice for Texas Instruments.

Furthermore, contrary to popular belief, apprenticeships aren’t just limited to the engineering and manufacturing sector. A wide range of professions, from entertainment through to fashion and cooking, offer their own versions of apprenticeships giving candidates the opportunity to gain valuable hands-on experience.

Famously, Jamie Oliver, Gordon Ramsay, Karen Millen, Stella McCartney and even Sir Ian McKellen all started as apprentices in their respective fields, rising through the ranks to become leading names. Some, such as Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsay, have even started their own apprenticeship programmes to encourage future generations.

It is also often the case that many people who undertake vocational qualifications and apprenticeships are ahead in their careers by the time their academic counterparts emerge from university. This can provide not just a financial advantage, but also the advantage of accessing opportunities to work in roles in other companies that would not be available to a newly-qualified graduate.

“Not long after finishing his apprenticeship, one of my friends was headhunted by Boeing in the US to work as an interior designer for its aircraft,” says Steve Wilding. It was his four years of experience as an apprentice that gave him this opportunity – a big step for someone still in their early twenties.”   

Pawal Bajwa and Samuel Barrett who are currently working as apprentices with ABB Measurement & Analytics in St Neots. Their training will see them gaining experience across the business, covering all areas from product assembly through to sales and service.
Pawal Bajwa and Samuel Barrett who are currently working as apprentices with ABB Measurement & Analytics in St Neots. Their training will see them gaining experience across the business, covering all areas from product assembly through to sales and service.

Reason 4 – Earn and learn

The prospect of leaving university laden with tens of thousands of pounds of debt to repay tuition fees is leading many school and college students to rethink their life choices. As a way of both learning and earning, apprenticeships can offer an attractive and worthwhile alternative career path.

One of the biggest benefits of an apprenticeship is the opportunity to earn while you learn. Wage rates vary according to age, with the average wage for an apprentice starting at £3.70 an hour for those aged 16 to 18, £5.90 for those aged 18 to 20 and £7.83 for over 25s. In many cases, there is the prospect of pay increases as time goes on, with rates tending to increase once the first year of training is complete.

In terms of qualifications, apprenticeships offer a great way to combine work with study, with the chance to earn valuable qualifications. Depending on the length of the apprenticeship, candidates can progress from Intermediate level (Level 2), equivalent to GCSE, through to Higher or Degree level (Level 4,5,6 and 7), equivalent to a Foundation, Bachelor or Master’s degree. In addition to providing direct work experience, apprenticeship programmes also incorporate a study element, typically involving day release at an associated college.

Most importantly, unlike university education, there is no repayment expected at the end of the experience. All fees are covered by the employer and the Government. Once the apprenticeship is complete, subject to positions being available, a qualified apprentice can either remain with the organisation they trained with or move on to find other opportunities.

Reason 5 - Make lifelong friendships

In the same way that many people who go to university create lifelong friendships, the same is also true for apprenticeships.

Says Steve Wilding of ABB: “The best thing about doing an apprenticeship is that you’re all in it together. For example, I had friends doing apprenticeships with other companies – to get an idea of what each other did, we would spend time visiting each other’s companies, which gave us a great insight into different ways of working and doing things. 

Even though it’s now 28 years since I did my apprenticeship, I’m still in touch with many of my fellow apprentices, many of whom I still meet up with on a regular basis.”

Interested?

If reading this article has helped spark your interest in becoming an apprentice, there are plenty of advice sites available with more information about how to take the next step. The following are examples of some sources of information that may help:

UCAS Apprenticeships page – Everything you need to know about apprenticeships in the UK, with a breakdown of opportunities and schemes by region

GOV.UK page on becoming an apprentice – The UK Government’s page on becoming an apprentice is a good starting point for finding out more about what’s involved and how to prepare yourself for an apprenticeship

The Apprenticeship Guide – A complete step-by-step guide to apprenticeships, containing the full what, how and why of becoming an apprentice and a full list of opportunities by region and industry sector

Get my first job – enter your location and specify which industries you’re interested in to find a choice of suitable apprenticeship opportunities


Technology, the frenemy of tomorrow's workforce

Technological change seems to occur at the speed of light. As one technical innovation develops, another is just beginning. It can be extremely difficult to keep up, even for those twenty-something millennials who seem to have the advantage on Generation X.

Yet as more and more jobs are absorbed by technology, young people are struggling to find employment. And if this is the case for Generation Y, what will the job market be like for Generation Z?

In a recent report by the World Economic Forum, persistent jobless growth was rated globally as the second highest concern. Larry Summers, former US treasury secretary, placed responsibility on the education sector to “meet the needs of this age.” He warned that if current trends continue then whole sections of society will find their standards of living going backwards.

Of course, it’s important to remember that doom and gloom shifts newspapers. While it’s inevitable that jobs will be lost to technology, this is not to say that new opportunities are not already cropping up in their place.

From manufacturing through to media, developments in technology are opening up a raft of new opportunities. Even the PR and marketing industry has seen a seismic change in job roles to keep pace with the exciting possibilities around social media.

Getting ready for work

The best safeguard against being replaced by technology is knowing how to use it. If we want today’s students to enjoy a brighter future, we need to make sure that they go into the workplace fully able to use technology to maximum effect.

Why not start implementing curriculums that prepare for certain roles, such as digital marketers, social media managers and software engineers. Why not include blogging in English lessons? What about robotic engineering in Design Technology? What about getting schools to start trading with one another? The possibilities to digitise the workforce of tomorrow are endless.

The UK’s Year of Code is one of many signs that reform has already started. Including a new initiative to train teachers in software coding, it’s hoped that the scheme will encourage these new skills within the classroom and, further down the line, technology entrepreneurship. In fact, the government has ordered that HTML coding become a compulsory topic covered for every child aged 5 – 16 years old.

There’s also a growing network of University Technical Colleges (UTCs), government-funded schools that teach students technical and scientific subjects, educating the inventors, engineers, scientists and technicians of tomorrow. Perhaps more schools should take a leaf out of their book.

In a study by Deloitte, 84% of London businesses said the skill set of their employees will need to adapt over the next decade. Expertise such as ‘digital know-how, ‘management’ and ‘creativity’ were most desirable. Indeed, at 634th in the list of careers most likely to be overtaken by technology we like to tell ourselves in the PR industry that we’ll be completely fine, at least for the foreseeable future.

The truth is that whether we’re young or old, the demands of today’s workplace mean we all need to keep up-to-date on how to make best use of the technological advancements of the 21st century.

What are your thoughts about technology and the job market? Are we prepared? What can we do to give children the best hope of a successful career in the future?