This month we interviewed Julia Roche. Julia specialises in providing freelance marketing communications and stakeholder engagement support for social impact-driven clients in the private, public and not-for-profit sectors.
I increase awareness of my clients’ brands and connect them with their target customers and audiences by planning and implementing integrated marketing and PR strategies and campaigns. For some clients, I am parachuted into their teams to audit the effectiveness of their current strategy and develop their plan of action going forwards. For other clients, I plan, roll-out and evaluate bespoke campaigns, for example around launches and events. I also provide lots of clients with coaching to upskill their teams, particularly around digital and social media marketing.
I have been a freelancer for about ten years now, but I have worked in PR and communications for almost 20 years. After studying international public relations at post-graduate level, I started my career as a press officer for a national charity, before moving into various broad PR and communications roles within central government departments, research institutes and not-for-profit organisations including the UK Home Office, Department of Communities and Local Government, Thrombosis Research Institute, Which? and Department of Health.
I was approached to lead the communications for a national consultation into youth action and that was really my first step into the world of self-employment. When that project wrapped, I took on similar communications consultancy roles within central government and I loved the challenge of quickly immersing myself in new organisations and delivering time-critical results. After I had my eldest daughter, I wanted to return to work on a part-time basis and found that flexible opportunities were few and far between. I knew I had lots of experience and enthusiasm to offer, so I decided to reach out to various companies that I wanted to work with – and the rest is history!
I am really inspired by social impact-driven organisations and using my expertise to contribute to making a positive difference. I think if you work with clients that really motivate you, it is a win-win for both you and the client!
I have a strong interest in healthcare, innovation, education, and ‘tech for good’ and so a lot of my clients work within those sectors. I have very strong, transferrable skills though - and being naturally curious, I love taking on new briefs and working with different clients across many different industries.
The Work Crowd has introduced me to some great clients, and I have had the opportunity to work on some really exciting projects. It’s such a convenient way of matching clients with the best freelancer for them and, for the freelancer, the platform makes the administrative side of running your own business so much easier – so you can get on with the job in hand!
Personally, over the past year, I have seen a big increase in new business enquiries. Lockdowns, furlough and redundancies have provided an opportunity for entrepreneurs to dedicate time to getting their new business ideas off the ground. They then need marketing expertise, but many simply do not have the time or skills to dedicate to it themselves.
Many businesses have had to make cut-backs and cannot afford to have full-time marketing support and they come to me looking for a flexible, ‘extra pair of hands’ to help with either a new project, or to develop and keep their marketing efforts moving forward.
In addition to both of these, I also have clients who have had to pivot their businesses in response to the impact of the pandemic. Many have been forced to develop their brand, services, target audiences, or methods of operation – for example moving into e-commerce.
The clients I have worked with through The Work Crowd have been very varied – which has been brilliant! I have worked on the launch of a new not-for-profit organisation in the primary education sector which started with a blank-canvas and has included everything from strategy development through to web development, media outreach, social media marketing and stakeholder engagement.
I am currently providing interim communications cover for a higher education sector client which involves very practical, hands-on support including press office management, copywriting, digital and social media marketing.
I have also worked on a brilliant three-month project planning and rolling-out a PR and marketing strategy for an innovation hub where I had the chance to work alongside many amazing tech start-ups and entrepreneurs. Part of my remit was event marketing and I managed to more than double the engagement and sign-ups from previous years!
Invest in yourself and your own business. It is important as a freelancer to keep your skills and knowledge up to date, so make sure you take time out to do that. Someone once advised me to treat myself as I would a client, and I really think that is great advice. I carve out time each month to hone my skills through professional development and training, and I also allocate time for developing my own business for the future.