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How Can I Get a Career in Marketing? O Agency’s Best Tips

O Agency is a marketing agency that has unrivalled experience in marketing, PR and digital skills practice. Known for its impact in the North East, they have won multiple awards including the North East Marketing Agency of the Year in 2022, being finalists in the "Best Agency Outside of London" and "Best Places to Work" in the PR Week Awards and more. Tech Talent Engine sat down with Fran Ratliff to discuss more.

How Can I Get a Career in Marketing? O Agency’s Best Tips


Tech Talent Engine


Whether you enjoy being creative, seeing real-life results or being challenged every day, a career in marketing is an exciting prospect for many individuals.

Fortunately, this sector provides a favourable community for beginners and intermediate professionals who are looking to network, upskill and seek employment. Yet, with competition on the rise, there’s a growing need for marketers to develop a unique set of skills to be successful.

Fran Ratliff, Head of People at O Agency, which was recently named Marketing Agency of the Year, shares some tips for getting started in a marketing career.

Who is O Agency?

O is a fully integrated, creative marketing agency which solves problems for its clients and helps people to tell stories in the most creative ways possible.

From marketing strategy, digital PR influencer relations and social media to design, illustration, videography and more, O Agency prides itself on its unique ability to craft compelling narratives that resonate with a range of audiences.

They understand that a successful marketing approach goes beyond promotion; it’s about building authentic connections and fostering brand loyalty. Fran comments:

Seriously creative’ is our mantra. Ideas should always serve a purpose and have a serious impact on your organisational goals.

How can I get a job in marketing?

A career in marketing is a highly sought-after pathway for many people, as it offers the opportunity to be creative whilst simultaneously leveraging analytical skills to provide a focused strategy.

With the pool of talented individuals continuing to rise, competition is no doubt a big obstacle that many marketers face. Fran has worked at O Agency for 12 years and believes anyone can work in any sector, regardless of their background or education.

Whilst it may often be preferred to have a degree in Marketing or Communications, there are many transferrable skills from other subjects. At O, we’ve had people from Fashion Communications, languages and a range of Humanities subjects, as well as more traditional marketing, business or PR qualifications.

If you can show a willingness to learn and a passion to work in a fast-paced environment, that puts you in excellent stead to work for a business such as O.

To help individuals get noticed, Fran recommends getting in touch with agencies and organisations to request work experience or unpaid work opportunities and to consider short-term options as well as lengthier placements, as every bit of experience helps. Even if a business doesn’t have the capacity to take on placements, there may be an opportunity to request having a go at a brief they could set virtually, for you to respond to and request feedback.

For intermediate marketers, the Chartered Institute of Marketing can add credibility to your CV and provide an opportunity to develop your skills in marketing.

We’ve seen real benefits from putting some of our staff through the CIM. One individual who we administered through the programme has since been promoted and her confidence has improved massively.

Research the culture

When you’re looking for a job, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the different organisations and what they offer. Fran’s advice is to spend some time researching the different organisations and their identity – i.e., what makes them stand out and what do they offer for their people?

When you’re researching opportunities, one suggestion would be to look at the different cultures each of them offers and how this might match up with your own career goals and personal values. There will be some fundamental things that are the same across all agencies, however, each organisation is different.

This could mean following people on LinkedIn within the business, tracking what they are talking about, events they attending and what their staff are doing or supporting.

But I’m scared about messaging people, what is the correct way?

Not everyone is going to be comfortable with reaching out to people on LinkedIn – and that’s okay.

Fortunately, there’s an increasing number of people and culture roles and Talent Acquisition Leaders now in place within different organisations, whose core responsibility is to recruit and engage with people outside of the business.

So, if you’re intimidated by messaging the CEO or Marketing Manager, consider reaching out to others who are responsible for people and recruitment in the organisation.

Often, the default is to approach people at the top of the organisation. However, chances are, the CEO and Managing Director are extremely busy. If there’s someone you already have a connection with on LinkedIn, such as myself, it could be an idea to approach them by complimenting the company and asking if there are any opportunities available.

Do I need a degree to work in marketing?

Many marketing professionals have had successful careers despite not going to university or attaining a relevant degree, such as Journalism or Marketing.

Touching on the recruitment process at O Agency, individuals applying speculatively for entry-level roles should submit a CV for the application but Fran and her team are always keen to see something extra to demonstrate why that person thinks they are right for the role and agency and this could be anything – a personal statement, visual portfolio or otherwise – anything which shows a passion for the industry and the more creative the approach, the better.

Where there is a specific role advertised, O will often set a brief for interested applicants to respond to and demonstrate their skills and bring their creativity to life.

At O we put a high emphasis on skills such as determination, a passion to succeed and accountability. When someone joins the team, it’s not unusual for them to switch roles and quickly progress in the organisation, if they can demonstrate these behaviours from the outset.

The North East marketing network

With access to multiple networking events, agencies, and talented professionals, the North East stands out as an exceptional hub for aspiring marketers.

For those in further education, connecting with lecturers can open doors to industry contacts and referrals. Additionally, using platforms such as LinkedIn can help aspiring marketers identify key players and follow relevant channels. Fran adds to this,

It’s important to be proactive in your approach, ensuring you show a willingness to go above and beyond. Successful people don’t wait for opportunities to come to them, they look for them.

This advice extends to attending agency events, staying active on social channels, and thinking creatively to stand out in the competitive marketing landscape.

There’s heaps happening event-wise in the industry here in the region; Eventbrite is useful for finding new networks. Agencies in the region often host events that provide insights into various roles and career paths within the field – we recently launched a series of ‘Open House’ events here at O to encourage people to find out more about the industry.

Should I choose to pursue a marketing career?

Marketing and communications are dynamic fields, which are constantly always evolving and updating. Whether it’s new social media algorithms, GA4 updates or ChatGPT, marketers are faced with several challenges.

However, this creative field gives many people the opportunity to showcase their skills and network with others in the North East region. If you’re creative, driven, and keen to work with others, then this career pathway may be ideal for you.

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