By @SimonCocking. Great interview with David Hayes Director of Social, Search & Performance Media @HuskiesAgency.

Your background briefly?

My background is originally in the fine arts. I completed a BA in Fine Art sculpture at the National College of Art & Design in 1998 and then went to work in the documentary film industry for a number of years returning to NCAD to complete a Masters focused on art in the Digital World. Following this I worked on various art/digital projects and ventures.

What lead you to where you are now?

I was working working with a friend developing an online social network focused on sustainability and carbon consumption back in 2008. This got me into the space of social media networking. As a result of this I joined In the Company of Huskies in 2010 to develop their social media offering.

Huskies what is the aim / ethos?

We describe ourselves as a creative agency with deep digital DNA bred to transform brands and businesses. Essentially we’re here to help our client navigate the complexity of the digital space and help them to connect with their customers whether it’s through strategic planning, creative campaigns, building and optimising their online presence via websites, social or digital innovation.

How have you grown it?

Well, to be fair our CEO, Jonathan Forrest and the senior team at Huskies have been responsible for growing the business over the last 17 years. I’ve been fortunate to be part of that growth in the last six years but it’s safe to say that over the years we’ve learned a lot.

However, in the end, it’s about developing great relationships with our clients and producing great work for them. To do this in this space require a relentless drive to do the very best work, to constantly keep innovating and by hiring the very best talent in the marketplace.

How do you help / advise companies in terms of finding their corporate voice (finding the right balance between professional and yet personal / engaging?)

We’re more focused on helping our clients better understand how they can connect with their customers. More often than not this comes first from understanding the needs, interests and behaviors of their customers, like any good relationship it starts with listening, understanding what their customers are saying and doing online. From here we can better advise our clients about how they should behave and turn up as it were.

Scott Eddy says you are your brand – what’s your take on that concept? And how does that apply to the clients you work with?

I have a totally different perspective, and this is a personal gripe for me. Without sounding too sanctimonious I’m not so sure I would like to reduce myself or another to the notion of a brand. It’s certainly not my aspiration and besides the cult of the self is something that I feel we need to deter rather than encourage. I suppose this stems from a sense that community is important, particularly today. This is why I enjoy social media and digital technologies because they have the capacity to connect communities both small and large. I believe we need to start looking at the bigger picture rather than from the narrow personal perspective. The same can said for brands today, in order to build successful 21st-century brands I would tend to agree with Douglas Holt’s assertion that the brands that promote an innovative ideology that breaks with category conventions are best placed to succeed in a connected world. At Huskies, we tend to look at people and culture at large to better understand the cultural context. We look at how a brand can be a cultural innovator, how can we help them leapfrog the conventions of their category to champion new ideologies that are meaningful to customers.

Digital marketing espouses being responsive quickly, how do you balance that with online /offline work life balance? Personally?

Well, to be honest, this is hard and it’s a constant challenge and tension. Digital technologies create a certain velocity that can be hard to keep up with whether it’s new innovations, news, trends etc. But personally, I think that we all need to be grounded, to have something in our lives that grounds us to the physical, walk, take a bike ride, swim in the sea, hang out with friends. A little digital detox is essential and helps with perspective. Do I get the time to do these as regularly as I would like? No, but I do take a short 10-15 minute meditation every morning and this regular practice is fantastic. Now if I could get it to 30 mins a day that would be great!

Looking back on your time with Huskies / in general is there anything you would have done differently?

No, why go back? Besides, mistakes are important and necessary for learning.

Tips for new marketers starting out?

I don’t know to be honest, but I guess the first step is to really understand people and the world at large. From my time in this industry I’ve been somewhat taken aback at how little some professed ’marketeers’ really understand the word, they live in. They tend to see it from a narrow point of view. I guess I can only really draw from my own experience and in my early days I traveled extensively, this really opened my eyes to the world its diversity. I guess I’ve been able to draw on this in my work to date and I believe that this has helped me see things from a different perspective and in the end, that’s what it’s all about seeing things from a different perspective.

What’s next for you?

I’m planning a short sabbatical 🙂 Like I said perspective is important and working in the marketing/advertising industry can be hectic so I am looking at a short sabbatical focused on recharging and giving back a little something to people less fortunate than myself. Like many other, I was and still am deeply moved by the ongoing refugee crisis so I will be working in a volunteer capacity in Greece in a one of the refugee camps for a number of weeks in August.

Anything else you’d like to add / we should have asked?

Nah 🙂

If you would like to have your company featured in the Irish Tech News Business Showcase, get in contact with us at [email protected] or on Twitter: @SimonCocking

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