A Week in My Life: Ed Blakeway, Head of Social, Journey Further
Journey Further's Ed Blakeway sits at the head of the performance marketing agency's newest location in Manchester, which opened in 2019.
Ed, who was previously at iProspect and Search Laboratory, is a social specialist who leads a team of specialists in the North West office - based at Bonded Warehouse. Since joining as the first Manchester employee, he's grown the team to 17 people at the hub, many of which joined throughout COVID.
His experience spans more than eight years in paid social, working with clients like Sky and Majestic Wine.
We found out what a week in Ed's life looked like...
Mondays always start with a sit-down with the whole team. Given that we’re restricted in terms of what we can do physically it’s a great way to start the week off and understand all the work the team have got on - it’s a time for people to share knowledge, reach out for help if needed or get people’s opinions on any projects they're working on.
Leading the social department means a large part of my week is spent looking into new business and planning our growth. It involves working with our Head of Growth and mapping out what we’re pitching for, when, the likelihood of success, and what impact this has on recruitment.
Our approach to recruitment is a little different - where we hire ahead of the curve - so this is a pretty important meeting which warrants a full cup of coffee, sometimes two!
Despite leading the team I’m still keen to get my hands dirty and speak with our clients. Mondays typically involve one or two client calls where I'll offer strategic support to the senior analysts and discuss overall business goals with our clients to see if we can solve them within our channel.
We’re extremely lucky that, throughout lockdown, we've grown very quickly - the last part of my Monday is spent working with our talent and wellbeing managers to assess the candidates they’ve shortlisted for available roles. This particular Monday is spent interviewing someone, which typically involves a fun task to reveal what they’re really like, what they enjoy, and their motivations for joining.
With recruitment comes new starters, and this week we’re welcoming a new social starter to our Manchester office. As always, we try to give them a warm welcome so plenty of swag, biscuits and beers are on offer, as well as pizza for lunch to get to know the wider team.
I’ve been involved in the agency’s vlog this week, talking about the growth we’re experiencing in Manchester - not just in social - and showcasing our new workspace in Bonded Warehouse.
After a quick stint behind the camera, I jump straight into more recruitment outreach. I’m keen to speak to potential candidates directly so they can hear what it’s like from the horse’s mouth! We take quite a relaxed approach to recruitment - we try to avoid multiple rounds and keep the process short, simple and effective.
Social is constantly evolving and so are the needs of our current and future clients. It’s important I dedicate time to develop our proposition and remain competitive and relevant. Every week, I set aside two hours to work on this with people across the company.
I usually finish early on Tuesdays to do the nursery run and I'll double-check emails later in the day to see if anything else needs covering!
I enjoyed a later start today after a long dog walk and some time with my son. After some tummy time and a well-earned coffee, I dive straight into some training. It’s great to work for a company that invests in its people and today I’m taking part in some company-wide management training.
After the training, I have some time for a quick bite to eat before I join a pitch - it’s a multichannel pitch so the prep work with other department heads has already been done and we’re hopeful we win it.
I usually finish off a Wednesday with a few 1-to-1s and review the objectives of some of the senior analysts in the team - this usually lasts most of the afternoon.
Our social proposition is always changing and part of my plan is to integrate more with our creative department. The meeting this morning is to work on developing our own social resource as we’re finding more and more clients needing creative guidance.
After another coffee (I love coffee) the senior members of the Paid Media department get together to talk about initiatives and improvements for the department. This is followed by the wider Paid Media meeting with the rest of the group. This week we’re talking about development, training and specialisms people can adopt.
My weeks are never really the same, but this week my Thursday afternoon is spent developing a new tool - a benchmarking solution for social media analysts to better forecast and understand the general trends in the market. I’m really excited about this and I’m sure it’ll be very insightful regardless of whether you’re a client, a future client or an analyst.
I usually start much earlier on Fridays which means I’m able to listen to the Journey Further Radio - something that was started over lockdown voluntarily and has continued to be a part of everyone’s week.
I finish off this week with an ad-hoc strategy meeting with a client. The client doesn’t currently run any social media ads, so it’s a great opportunity for us to deliver more value to an existing client and, fingers crossed, help them grow.
Just before lunch we have our Learn Together sessions, a great way for us to learn about anything. We’ve learned how to grow vegetables, we’ve had some fairly deep conversations around mental health, and others on financial advice. This is the highlight of my week and I genuinely come away learning something new every time.
After finishing off the to-do list for the week, it’s important we reward ourselves for all the hard work and this typically means finishing at 4pm and cracking open a cold one!