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Spotlight: Maria White, Digital PR Strategist

Maria-WhiteNEW

I’m Maria White, Digital Public Relations Strategist at Oban. I joined Oban in December 2014 and live in Burgess Hill with my kids and partner.

  • How and when did you start working in international digital marketing?

I started working in digital by accident as I am a fully qualified Secondary School Teacher (Spanish and French). One day back in 2006, my partner who also works in digital asked me to help him with a freelance project (that involved what in those years was referred to as “Link Building”). He showed me how to do it (from technical analysis to pitching to bloggers) and that’s where it all started! I quite enjoyed it and never went back to teaching…. well I did but only while I completed my Master’s Degree.

After that, my job and training have been evolving, from being a link builder, and commencing SEO training to becoming an analyst. I then focussed on learning PR and journalism skills and this year qualified as a journalist… and all this while working!

  • What do you enjoy about it?

The world of International Digital PR is fascinating! I enjoy working with bloggers and journalists producing relevant and engaging content for our clients’ audiences. The great opportunity I have at Oban is that I can challenge myself and extend my knowledge even further every day as I have to work with international journalists and bloggers, applying different techniques as everyone in each country is different! Techniques that might work in the UK, such as blogger outreach, might not be applicable in Mexico for instance, due to the blogosphere being still in its infancy. So it’s a matter of seeking alternatives that will have the same desired results, for example: research, brand journalism, or information guides. This is where I get to be creative!

It is interesting how cultural differences can have an impact on pitches to journalists who behave differently from one country to another. Working with bloggers is completely different yet fascinating in countries such as Kuwait, Iran, Mexico, Argentina and Moscow to mention some. The most rewarding part is when an idea or piece of content that the team and I brainstormed, gets published on international newspaper sites producing great results.

This year at Oban I have had projects published in media outlets such as 20 minutes in France, Le Figaro (France), Wall Street Journal (US), El Universal (Mexico) as well as having the amazing opportunity to work with bloggers from various parts of the world in various languages including my own (Spanish).

  • What are the biggest challenges you face?

Cultural differences. It is always fascinating the journey from the production of a piece of content to its promotion, everything changes from country to country, even if they speak the same language.

I have found how cultural and language variances also influence search behaviour, to a point that in some countries brands use a mixture of both languages in order to be “found”. An example of this is how ‘Spanglish’ (a linguistic phenomenon in the south of the US and north of Mexico), influences terms in fashion search. Some brands in Mexico have chosen to refer to maxi dresses as “maxi-vestidos” as this is how people are searching for and referring to the item.

  • How is a regular day in your job?

A regular day might involve conducting online brand analysis for a client and prospective client so that we can then design (or recommend) appropriate campaigns based on technical and brand message requirements. Alternatively, I might be producing a market scope for a client looking to expand into a specific country, conduct a competitor analysis (international), or engage with national and international press and bloggers.

  • Outside of work hours, you’ll find me….

With my kids, I love spending time with them (baking, going to London or to the beach in Brighton). On Friday nights I like to enjoy time with my partner or join colleagues for an after work agency event.

  • Top 3: Brand, site and item of technology

Brand: Facebook, I think it’s the best invention of all, without it I don’t know how I would be in contact with my family and friends in Mexico

Site: YouTube. I’ve found it to be the best platform for learning.

Technology: I love all my kitchen and baking gadgets, from a kitchen aid mixer with an amazing ice cream fitting to a bread maker that makes perfect bread without having to knead forever and all my little bits and pieces I have for macaron baking.