Interview with Johnny La, Technical Analyst at Fairfax Media

This week I thought I’d branch out beyond the marketing and PR sector and interview my mate Johnny La who works as a Technical Support Analyst at Fairfax Media. At first the heavy technical language on his LinkedIn profile had me scratching my head for a while and I ended up sending a few emails over asking him to clarify what it is he actually does Fairfax. But as you’ll see, we got there in the end. Read on to find out about Johnny’s career path, his highlight role to date and his observations on trends in the IT industry.

1. I was taking a look at your LinkedIn profile and noticed that you’ve worked in quite a range of industries – Department of Defence, Marsh & McLennan, Tabcorp – can you tell us a little about your career path to date?

This is actually quite a funny one, as I actually planned to get into more of a technical role. As part of my IT degree, I completed a networking sub-major, but never embraced that side of IT. IT tends to be like that, you usually end up somewhere different compared to what you have planned.

I started off as a Software Tester at DoD, then moved into a Technical Business Analyst role at Marsh. From there I moved over to Tabcorp, now Echo Entertainment and did more of a business support role which had some project coordination work tied into it. After a couple of years at Tabcorp I moved back into a Business Analyst role with a small startup company called Travelogix, but due to the upset in the financial market the investors pulled out and unfortunately that adventure ended. Now I find myself at Fairfax doing more of a technical role that is tied with some support.

2. What’s been the highlight so far?

Would be definitely be with Tabcorp. I joined at a time where the casino business was changing and as a result so was The Star casino. The revamp of the casino meant there were many projects running at any given point of time. The work was challenging yet rewarding and I met many great people on that journey.

3. Can you give us a quick overview of your current role at Fairfax Media?

My role as a Technical Analyst at Fairfax is quite robust if you want to call it that. I take care of campaign lead delivery, lead management for sales, lead tread analysis and also reporting for management. At the same time I provide technical support to the team as well. You could say it is more of a hybrid role.

4. What’s your day-to-day activity like?

Some days very similar, some days very different. Some days could be full on with back to back meetings regarding campaigns, campaign performance and also lead discovery and delivery. Some days it can be quiet with just a few small technical issues resulting in straight changes on the live database.

5. I’ve noticed that you have quite a range of technical expertise – are these skills gained by on-the-job experience, education or a combination of both?

To be honest, most of the experience is gained on the job, however eduaction does provide great knowledge and also best practises to follow. Sometimes on the job experience might lead to corners being cut. But in my situation it has been a good combination of both.

6. What sort of trends are you seeing in your industry at the moment? How do you think these trends will be shaping the near future?

I see the IT industry evolving quite rapidly, I am certain to say most roles will be outsourced but at the same time new roles are emerging. Think about 10 years ago, no-one knew what Search Engine Optimisation was, but now these roles have popped up everywhere.

7. For anyone looking to get into a similar role, what would be the top advice you’d give them?

Get started with some form of education and start working straight away, this way they will know what they want to do then put more focus into it, not to mention have all that experience under the belt. I find in Australia the IT industry not too critical about qualifications. There are many people in IT roles without the necessary qualifications but all the necessary experience. Then again, it really depends on the industry. IT itself is quite young compared to something like Accounting.

***To get in touch with Johnny, check out his LinkedIn profile***

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Interview with Edward M. Bury, Strategic PR & Integrated Marketing Communications Consultant.

This week for my Interview Series, we have Edward M. Bury, a strategic public relations and integrated marketing communications consultant based in Chicago. With extensive experience in the marketing, PR and journalism sector, Edward had a lot to share, especially about his career path, his stint as a journalist and why blogging is important for business.

1. You’ve been in the marketing and communications industry for over 30 years – can you tell us a little about your career path?

Upon graduation at Illinois State University with a degree in English, my goal was to land a position in journalism. It’s all I ever wanted to do. Fortunately, I received a referral from my Scoutmaster to an advertising executive at the Chicago Tribune. He referred me to an editor at the City News Bureau.  I secured an interview and was offered a job starting at $100 per week. This was January of 1977.  I was thrilled.

2. What was your experience like working in editorial positions at the City News Bureau of Chicago and Pioneer Press?

My years at City News really shaped me as a professional communicator.  CNB was a 24-hour local wire service that served daily newspapers, television and radio stations.  We did the grunt work: Police and fire stories, criminal court cases and other hard news.  It was the best job I ever had.  I covered real crime and politics — a big change from the soft features I wrote for the ISU daily paper. Spent 12 months on the overnight shift.

It also compelled me to learn to write fast and effectively. I covered some big stories, including the arrest and pre-trial proceedings of convicted mass murderer John Wayne Gacy.  At Pioneer Press, a community newspaper group, I got a byline and the opportunity to cover news and features in some west Chicago suburbs. The pace was much more relaxed, and I knew I’d never be bumped to overnights.

3. How do you think your experience as a journalist has helped shaped your PR career?

As noted, working in the news business really sharpened by writing and editing skills.  I also learned the value of accuracy and storytelling, and how the other side of the communications industry — the public relations side — worked.

4. With platforms like Twitter and blogs becoming increasingly important for news consumption, what are your thoughts on the media landscape today? Where do you think we’re headed in terms of the dynamic of journalism and PR?

Well, the obvious result from the explosion of online communications is that anyone with a computer and broadband access can theoretically reach anyone else with the same resources.  Traditional media has had to embrace social media, and I think that’s a smart thing to do. Why not encourage and embrace dialogue in real time?  I wonder if we’ve run out of platforms and new ways to share information, images and videos online.  What’s going to follow Pinterest?

As for the second question, I think journalists and public relations professionals will always have a working relationship where one feeds off the other.  Story pitches have to get much more refined because the media landscape has shifted to “narrowcasting” more than broadcasting.

5. What made you want to start up your own blog – PR Dude? Love the name by the way!

I launched the PRDude blog after my position with a national real estate association here was eliminated due to declining revenues. My goals were:

  • Enter the blogging community to enhance my digital footprint
  • Chronicle my search for new full-time employment and encourage others in the same predicament
  • Have a forum to share ideas and encourage dialogue on public relations.

I selected the “Dude” moniker because “Guy” was already taken.  Plus, it makes me sound a generation younger than I really am!

6. In what ways do you think organisations should leverage blogging for communications purposes?

First, I think every organization should immediately augment static, unchanging web content with blogs and new content. Second, virtually any organization should launch a blog for several reasons: Helps build awareness for new programs, products, positions and developments; creates a repository of positive online content that could help mitigate negative perceptions during a crisis; encourages dialogue with key stakeholders; engages team members to have a role in communications.

7. Having been in the industry for so long, I’m sure you’ve worked on quite a number of exciting things. Is there a particular campaign or project that stands out to you?

When I was in the agency business, we represented a fashion design school; there was a McDonald’s franchise next to the school.  I came up with an idea to have a “fashion show” of garments made with McDonald’s paper and plastic items. The show received tremendous TV, print and wire service coverage (this was in the mid 1980s). The resulting media exposure brought greater awareness to the school and led to an increase in enrollment.

8. And lastly, in an era of tweets, 24/7 news cycle, status updates and bite-sized blog posts, how do you stay up to date with the latest industry trends while avoiding information overload?

I subscribe to a daily newsletter from Mashable.

***To get in touch with Edward, you can check out his website at http://edwardmbury.wordpress.com/***