3d people in a round table having a meeting.

We’re delighted today to release full details of the MMU/Prolific North Postgraduate Certificate in Digital Communications Management, as first revealed last month.

Subject to validation on 2 September, we are in the position to confirm course content, timing and the fantastic array of industry leaders who have confirmed their involvement.

This dedicated new course has been tailored for companies or organisations who wish to invest in members of their staff who they believe have the potential to be senior management material.

We believe that the unique structure and composition of the new course will deliver an outstanding mix of best practice in contemporary digital communications skills, together with the significant management and leadership insight which will be gained from direct access to over a dozen leading communications practitioners from across the North.

Postgraduate Certificate in Digital Communications Management – information

There are two core units anchoring the course:

Unit 1: Strategy and Planning for Digital and Social Media
Unit 2: Management and Leadership for Communications Professionals

The number of delegates on the course is limited to ensure that participants will be afforded the maximum benefit from the course tutors and to enhance close peer group engagement.

The industry practitioners will also find it easier to share their learning experiences and build relationships with their fellow attendees in response to course requirements and will be able to develop a close bond over the duration of the course.

The course will commence at lunchtime on Thursday 7 Nov and will thereafter run every Thursday afternoon over a 16-week period – with a Christmas break –  concluding with an intensive weekend school at the New Business School at MMU.

Delegates will also be given coursework to complete in their own time.

The course fee is £2,500 plus vat.

Numbers on the debut course are limited to just 25 and we are optimistic that this debut course will be oversubscribed. To add your interest to attend the new Postgraduate Certificate in Digital Communications Management or if you would like to know more at this stage, please email Nick Jaspan at Prolific North at nick@prolificnorth.co.uk or David Edmundson-Bird at d.edmundson-bird@mmu.ac.uk

We will notify all those who have expressed interest in reserving a place on the course as soon as validation takes place on 2 September.

MMU course director

David Edmundson-Bird

David Edmundson-Bird

David Edmundson-Bird, principal lecturer in Digital Marketing & Enterprise and course director MSc Digital Marketing Communications & MSc Internet Retailing, will be overseeing the academic elements and requirements of the course with Prolific North bringing its industry engagement and market-leading position to the proposition.

A number of the North’s leading senior managers and owners of acclaimed publishing, digital, marketing, broadcasting and creative companies have agreed to speak individually at each of the afternoon sessions. They will be sharing their experiences of how they have coped with management issues and will be offering insight into how they have helped create – and in some cases sell – successful companies.

Guest industry lecturers

Full biographical information on the guest lecturers can be found by scrolling down the page but our confirmed guest lecturers include:

  • Ben Hatton/Rippleffect
  • Neil Martin/Creative Lynx
  • Cat Lewis/Nine Lives Media
  • Chris Conlan/Love Creative
  • Karen Gee/Journeys of Distinction
  • Tony Foggett/Code
  • Andy Barke/Google UK
  • Julie Besbrode/Fresh
  • Andrew Diggle/Manchester United
  • Martin Regan/Cheshire Today
  • Charles Tattersall/Citypress
  • Rob Morrice/SteinIAS
  • Lianne Grimshaw/Click Consult
  • Ian Font/Mustard Research
  • Neil McKay/Lakestar McCann
  • Nicky Unsworth/BJL
  • Peter Craven/Madhouse Associates
  • Andy Garner/MMS and formerly News International
  • Alex Blaikley/You Tube
  • PK Vaish/Livelink

Delegates on the course will also benefit not only from learning about how companies in related communications fields have successfully built their businesses but will also, as the course develops over its duration, build new and lasting relationships with other ambitious communication executives as they move their careers beyond professional excellence and into management roles.

Delegate interest has already been expressed by individuals from a broad range of disciplines: from social media marketing to broadcasting, advertising, sales, planning and strategy covering a mix of agencies and companies.

Prolific North and MMU believe that the intensive and hands-on structure of the course will appeal to potential attendees who may wish to invest in themselves and also to directors of companies who wish to invest in staff they feel may be able to join their own companies’ management teams at some stage in the future.

The course fee of £2,500 plus vat includes all course materials, all tuition at MMU and online support and the weekend course. Saturday night accommodation for the concluding weekend is not included.

Postgraduate Certificate in Digital Communications Management – course details

This 60-credit postgraduate qualification comprises 2 30-credit Level 7 modules.

Unit 1: Strategy and Planning for Digital and Social Media

This unit integrates digital and social media into organisational communication campaigns.

It reviews emerging techniques and assesses their impact within integrated media communication and breaks down into three main themes:

Delegates will be introduced to digital and social media communications strategy and in particular will look at strategies for acquiring audiences and developing digital and social media propositions. They will also look at user experience, customer effectiveness, experience and service design and usability.

Delegates will also enhance their knowledge of the capabilities of a variety of digital and social media channels, such as search engine marketing, affiliate thinking and so on. They will also explore the exploitation of the mobile platforms and mobile futures, along with approaches to social media communications. There will be significant exploration of new, contemporary and best practice tool use and management guided by key thought leaders from the industry.

Thirdly delegates will explore digital and social media communications campaign planning, acquisition and retention planning. They will look at how to develop digital and social relationships and invest in customer retention and value analysis – in particular managing digital and social media customer value. Finally delegates will explore digital and social analytics and engagement and understand how to deal with ROI, ROE and whole campaign evaluation.

Unit 2: Management and Leadership for Communications Professionals

This unit will provide students with the tools and techniques to help them develop effectively as new managers within their organisations, and lead teams more effectively. In particular, to introduce them to and practice the types of leadership and management skills they are likely to need to develop beyond their current craft skills. It will also open their eyes to the needs of the business above and beyond their individual job, and how they can play a positive role in achieving the overall business objectives.

Delegates will be introduced to approaches to business model development that solve core business issues and allow them to present ideas at the highest level complete with approaches to performance measurement.

A variety of key leaders from the region will help inform delegates in the notion of leadership in different kinds of organisation. Delegates will learn a great deal about leadership style and ways to consider how style affects success.

Delegates will also look how their behaviour can have an effect on the way they successfully manage a team and will explore issues such as motivation and managing conflict.


Both units are assessed through work-based assignment (no exams), which will include the creation of a digital and social media strategy and plan for either their own organisation or that of a client or prospect as well as an exploration of how they can improve team and business management in their own organisation by exploring the practices of those in a peer business.

Delegates will be encouraged and expected to share their insights during the production of their assignment work with other delegates on the programme and a strong peer group of support will develop as a result.


Both units will be based around attendance, usually once a week for an afternoon and will conclude with a weekend School combining delivery and final assessment.

Delivery will involve specific MMU staff and a number of leading industry practitioners as our guest lecturers.

Postgraduate Certificate in Digital Communications Management – guest lecturers

The following guest lecturers will be contributing to one unit or two of the Certificate as appropriate to the unit and their experience.

All of these lecturers have confirmed their agreement but neither MMU nor Prolific North may be held responsible if a guest lecturer is unable to contribute should unexpected circumstances arise.

foggettTony Foggett/Code. Tony is the MD of Code Computerlove, one of the UK’s leading independent digital agencies. The company employs 80 plus staff. His management team has evolved over time as it has had to cope with various challenging periods as it experienced rapid growth. Tony co-founded Code in 1999 and the agency has current sales of £4m plus.

Andy GarnerAndy Garner/MMS and formerly News International. Andy ran News International’s integrated sales operation in Manchester spanning the Sun, the Times, News of the World (when it lived!) and the Sunday Times. The team generated regional sales in excess of £20m. His experience of through the line communication will prove invaluable to delegates. He recently left News International to devote more time to running his own apps company which has been running since 2007.

Neil Martin Havas LynxNeil Martin/Creative Lynx. Neil is an accountant by training. He joined Creative Lynx from Baker Tilly in 2004 as finance director and subsequently became MD as he led an MBO from the founders of the agency. In 2012 he sold a minority stake in the agency to the French quoted marketing services group Havas. The company has now rebranded as Havas Lynx and Manchester is now the international HQ of the division. Neil is now commercial director of Havas Lynx which has offices in Manchester, London, Paris and New York and employs over 200 staff.

Cat Lewis WILCat Lewis/Nine Lives Media. Cat Lewis is a TV production exec. She has worked at ITV and the BBC and built up the factuals arm of Unique plc into a £1.7m business in the early 2000s. In 2007 she established Nine Lives Media which now employs approaching 30 staff and enjoys sales of £2.2m generated from sales of TV productions to broadcasters around the globe.

Chris ConlanChris Conlan/Love Creative. Chris is the managing director of  Love Creative and works alongside recently appointed chief executive Trevor Cairns. Love was widely acknowledged as one of the UK’s ‘hottest’ independent creative shops after it opened its doors but the agency has matured with age and also went through a period of turbulence which resulted in the departure of the former MD. Under Chris, Love has demonstrated renewed growth and the agency has established new offices and operations in London and in Shanghai.

BJL staff - happy campers

Nicky Unsworth/BJL. Nicky has worked on the client and agency side. In 1996 she joined the ad agency Barrington Johnson Lorains when there were 19 staff. A few years later she led an MBO and today the agency (BJL) employs around 70 staff. In pre-recession 2008, BJL enjoyed turnover of £9.3m and  profits of circa £850k. Unsworth and her management team restructured the agency when the recession hit and when sales fell sharply but in its latest accounts, BJL had sales of £5.7m with profits up to a record £977k.

NeilMcKayfpNeil McKay/Lakestar McCann.  Neil became a professional footballer at 16 and has continued to set himself different challenges all through his working life. He has helped to build, develop and sell several companies spanning publishing, e-commerce and digital marketing. His latest company, Lakestar, was sold to the NYSE-listed Interpublic subsidiary McCanns in 2012 for an undisclosed eight figure sum.

Ian FontIan Font/Mustard Research. Ian is an alumni of Manchester Business School and has established two leading national and international market research operations in his career – the latter one for himself. He has also sold a business and led an MBO. His current research consultancy, Mustard, went through a rebrand in 2013 from its previous incarnation as CI Research. The consultancy has long-standing clients spanning logistics, financial services, pharma and chemicals and major consumer brands and the team at Mustard has worked across the globe for these clients.

Ripple EffectBen Hatton/Rippleffect. Ben co-founded Rippleffect in 1999 and in 2008 he sold the agency to Trinity Mirror for £5.8m but he has remained with the company and in addition to remaining Rippleffect’s MD, he was also promoted in 2013 to managing director of Trinity’s digital marketing activities across the plc. Rippleffect, with a turnover of £5.5m, is one of the two or three largest purely digital agencies outside London.

Madhouse_MD_Peter_CravensmallPeter Craven/Madhouse Associates. Peter co-founded Madhouse Associates along with his partner Phil Rogerson. in 1999 and the two own the company 50/50. Madhouse works for clients across the UK, Europe and the USA. The agency is one of the very few marketing agencies which has continued to grow through the recession and Madhouse’s staff numbers have also increased over the past four years, rather than shrunk. Craven and Rogerson have adopted a lower profile to publicising their agency than most of their peers.

Liane GrimshawLiane Grimshaw/Click Consult. Grimshaw began her working career as designer with HGA but came to prominence with Moonfish, one of the North’s earliest and best-known digital agencies before she was headhunted to run Pavilion Communication based in Wilmslow. The agency was sold to Hasgrove plc in 2008 and Pavilion was subsequently merged with Hasgrove’s Amaze subsidiary and further acquisitions took place and Grimshaw was appointed managing partner of Amaze. She stepped down in 2011 to pursue her private interests before she reappeared in March 2013 as managing director of Click Consult, a 100 strong employee digital agency based in Ellesmere Port.

rob_morricefpRob Morrice/SteinIAS. Having worked at various design and advertising agencies in Scotland in the 80s and 90s, Morrice established what became one of Scotland’s best-known and controversial ad agencies – Smarts. He sold Smarts for £3.2m to Citigate in 2000 and became a hired hand for Citigate again before taking control of B2B agency IAS in Macclesfield in 2007. In 2013, IAS merged with Stein based in New York and Morrice is CEO of all SteinIAS’s operations outside the US with offices in Europe and China.

Charles TattersallCharles Tattersall/Citypress. Charles joined his father’s PR agency and in due course bought it. The agency has thrived under his ownership as the younger Tattersall has expanded the agency’s operations beyond its original and solitary Manchester base into a national agency with offices in London, Birmingham and Edinburgh. Turnover has grown sharply in recent years to over £3m and the agency now employs over 50 staff across its offices. Citypress is the only PR agency head-quartered outside which is regularly listed among the UK’s top PR agencies for its corporate and financial PR activities.

PK VaishPK Vaish/Livelink. PK established Livelink New Media in 2002 and the company has since grown rapidly and has built a reputation for itself as an e-commerce and multi-channel relationship specialist provider. Delegates on the course will learn how they can most effectively combine their use of the web, mobile, email and social media for their own companies and for their clients.

Martin Regan

Martin Regan/Cheshire Today. Regan is a journalist who has worked for the FT, the Economist and the Investors Chronicle and he also edited NW Business Insider. In 1993 he established Excel Publications with Pat Rafter and the two went on to build Excel into one of the largest regionally-based independent B2B publishing companies. Prior to the recession, Excel was enjoying sales of £8m and making ptp approaching £1m. The recession however and the rapid encroachment of digital into print meant that Excel, in common with the majority of publishers, had to restructure its operations and emerge from the downturn a leaner, smaller operation. Martin sold his 48% stake in Excel in February this year and in May announced plans to launch a raft of new online and print titles across the North.

Andrew Diggle

Andrew Diggle/head of content Man Utd. Andrew Following graduation from the University of Durham, Andrew joined the publishing house Macmillan as a senior commissioning editor where he remained for six years before he moved North to head up the research and information activities of  the information publishing company j4b, latterly Idox where he also was promoted to deputy MD. In February 2012, he joined Manchester United plc as head of content. Andrew’s expertise and knowledge of multilingual and multichannel portal and content development, commercial models and implementation will offer delegates on the course some rare and valuable insights into content management and communication.

Julie Besbrode FreshJulie Besbrode/Fresh. Julie established Fresh group together with Nick Porter. The pair had met while working at another events company and the two decided to try to make a go of it for themselves. Fresh was born in 2004 and the company has grown rapidly and for the current year (ending Sept 2013), sales are forecast at £14m with profits of circa £850k. Fresh has made two acquisitions since it began trading and has opened an office in London. The company’s client roster reads like a list of the UK’s bluest of blue-chip companies.

Andy Barke

Andy Barke/Google. Barke is a well-known industry professional as the face of Google outside London with a focus on the North. He has agreed to deliver one session on search (Google engagement) as part of the first unit and ‘best practice’ aspect of digital communications.


Alex-BlaikleyAlex Blaikley/You Tube. At Google Alex is responsible for working with  key regional media agencies and their clients for YouTube, Display and Google +. Prior to joining Google in November 2012, Alex worked for Sky Media, in London leading a digital team and in Manchester offering ad solutions across all platforms, working with clients, media and creative agencies.

Karen GeeKaren Gee/Journeys of Distinction. One of the North’s most accomplished marketers is today the managing director of the Kuoni-owned tour operator Journeys of Distinction. In her previous guises, she has variously held a variety of senior development, sales and marketing roles at companies including Rail Europe Group, First Choice Holiday and Shearings Holidays.