In late September we were approached by Lee Tomes, a partner of De Montfort University, who had just launched a new degree. The BA Professional Studies in Creative Industries is a practical course, allowing students to work on a real campaign briefs from local businesses and charities. Lee was looking for industry professionals who could share real-world knowledge and advice to the course’s first batch of students.

As there are more than a few DMU alumni amongst us and we love chatting to the next generation of creatives, we jumped at the chance.

Alanta and Ellis recently delivered two workshops. Keep reading to get the lowdown on how they went...

Ellis Di Cataldo and Alanta Lee of Rock Kitchen Harris

Social Media and Content Creation by Ellis, Social Media and Content Manager

“We all use social media. There are currently 3.2 billion social media users worldwide. We “get it”. But throwing out peace-sign Boomerangs and cat GIFs from your personal account is very different to doing it for a brand. To help the students with their briefs, I wanted to highlight just how much strategy and empathy goes into creating content for businesses, and how we as an agency are there to guide, inform, and collaborate with our clients to achieve content marketing success.

Content can be anything and everything from social media and blogs to videos, emails, and newsletters. And it’s everywhere. These are the ways that customers form opinions of and engage with a brand, so everything that gets created needs to be crafted with the appropriate intentions and goals of the business you’re working with.

This was the main message behind my workshop - people won’t automatically give you their attention just because you pop up on their Facebook newsfeed or email inbox, you need to captivate them. So creativity is one of the biggest areas I encouraged the students to focus on, followed by coming up with a robust strategy to deliver the content, and the things we can do to measure and report success.

We also talked through brands who always manage to get it right when it comes to social (Nike, AirBNB, and Aldi, we’re looking at you) and discussed the ones who don’t quite hit the mark (no naming and shaming here, though).

I spent a bit of time afterwards chatting to the students about their projects. They had some really exciting content ideas and I’m sure I’ll be working alongside many of them in the future!”

Getting To Know Your Users Through Empathy Mapping by Alanta, User Researcher

“I often get a blank face when I explain that I’m a User Researcher, so I thought that explaining the job role would be a good start to my presentation. If users don’t notice my work on a project then it usually means I’ve done a good job. For example, when on a website you should be able to know exactly what to do and where to go without any hesitation - a natural experience that’s been designed with the help of a User Researcher.

I wanted to share my experience and explain how the students might start to empathise with the people they are designing experiences for. Our role is to make a product more satisfying to use by improving its accessibility and usability.

By talking about (the car crash event that was) Fyre Festival, Tanacon, and a local event I took part in, the Mudnificent Seven, we were able to identify where things could have been fixed before they became a problem.

After talking about what I do and one of the many ways we can start to empathise with our users, I set the students a task. The goal was to create an empathy map for a user attending a music festival, and I wanted them to think about their experience as a whole - what would they be experiencing throughout the weekend? While I base my planning on solid data following a period of research, the students had to think a little more outside the box and base their thoughts on assumptions and past experiences. The students had some great insights into each part of the empathy map, from accessibility issues for wheelchair users, to providing vegan food options, to making sure the transaction process went smoothly.

I hope I have provided a valuable insight into user research within a creative industry and wish the students all the best with their projects!”

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