- Year of graduation:
Harriet Rhodes has worked as a freelance journalist, a digital marketing manager for a leading mobile phone company, and now runs her own successful agency. A degree in broadcast journalism from Staffordshire University gave the 28-year-old Stoke-on-Trent local the skills and knowledge she now uses to help SMEs across the Midlands.
“I set up Huzzah Digital two years ago,” Harriet explained, “we cover digital marketing, combining everything I’ve learned, creating content and strategies through to social media management.”
A career in communications was not set for Harriet from the beginning, however. It wasn’t until visiting Staffordshire University that her mind was made up. “I really enjoyed writing and English at school but I signed up for broadcast journalism quite late as I first applied for drama and then decided otherwise,” she said. “The broadcast journalism facilities and equipment were really good and the course was taught by industry professionals. I knew that’s what I wanted to do.”
Journalism to marketing
A work experience placement at BBC Radio Stoke and the hands-on learning environment of the University newsroom gave Harriet the chance to develop her interests. “When I was at Radio Stoke I discovered I wanted to work with the news team,” she said, “because I was interested in working in journalism.”
“The broadcast journalism course at the University prepares you well, it gives you the hands on experience of industry. One highlight was the lecturers handing over the newsroom to the students for the day and saying: ‘create a radio show or TV broadcast showing real news for one hour’. We couldn’t go off air for a second – that was a great learning experience.”
After graduating, Harriet started working freelance for a number of Staffordshire radio stations, including Kerrang and High Peak. Shortly afterwards, she switched to working in digital marketing, joining Midlands-based mobile phone retailer Phones4u.
“I started at Phones4u using the skills I’d learnt, preparing multimedia content for their website, and it went from there. I stayed for five years, working on their social media and SEO, and then went up to Digital Content Editor. We were leading the industry, championing digital marketing. I was responsible for building the blog and YouTube channel. We were the first to create video reviews of mobile phones, which were a huge success.”
After five years working in house, Harriet joined Birmingham-based marketing agency Cogent Elliot, working on digital marketing and social media for clients. After two years working largely “as a one-man band for the company, finding new clients and working with them mostly independently”, she took the decision to set up on her own, founding Huzzah Digital.
Based in Trentham and with an office in Birmingham, Harriet has plans to grow the company in the coming years, but wants to maintain a personal, hands-on approach with clients. “Part of the reason I wanted a change following my experience working for an agency was I saw an opportunity to work differently – a partnership approach.”
She continued: “Our focus is on the Midlands, working with small to medium sized businesses, but we have a few national clients also. Scania Trucks UK is one of our biggest – we manage their social media activity and have grown their Facebook community from 7,000 fans to over 50,000 since we started.
“I’d like to bring in people full time in future but I don’t want to grow to the size where I struggle to see what the business is about. I prefer to work with less clients so we can integrate with them and provide a unique service, not a one size fits all approach.”