A Day in the Life of Shea Warnes, Digital Strategist, Octagon
What does a Digital Strategist do?
The short answer is I make sure the ideas we present as a response to a client brief are refreshing and relevant for a digital age.
You have to wear many hats but as a Digital Strategist you’re essentially taking a brief, combing research to find those interesting insights and then using all of this as a framework to develop creative ideas. The spark plug as my old mentor once said.
I also have a responsibility to raise the floor of understanding in the office for all things digital. How digital can improve the ways of working, refining our thinking so ideas work hard in digital and everything in-between. This comes in the shape of team support, thought leadership, workshops as well as delivering exciting work for our clients.
There is quite a bit more to it but that covers the fundamentals.
Can you lead us through a timeline of a typical day in the office?
Fortunately my job has a lot of variety that means I don’t have a typical day in the office. But to give you a flavour one morning could involve digesting a client brief and using reports and research tools to help get me to a better understanding of the challenge and how to get from point A to point B. This will help form a creative brief that I’d be using to excite the team and get them thinking about hard-working ideas.
In the afternoon I could be doing anything from leading a brainstorm to developing the communications plan. Or writing a thought leadership piece to get people interested about the opportunities to own the online conversation during a live sporting event.
How do you become a Digital Strategist?
Strategists come from all sorts of backgrounds though the best ones have strong skills in research, a hunger to learn and story telling.
For me, the starting point was being passionate about the opportunities digital could bring to the music industry. I had a blog on this subject and studied it at University. From there I worked at a few start-ups in music and PR, helped set up and activate brands on social media for a media agency before creating integrated campaigns at the advertising agency BBH.
My piece of advice for anyone looking to go into this career is to simply create. Only so much you can get from reading a book or taking a course. Have a project – maybe a video blog or a small business on Etsy - that allows you to exercise strategic thinking and creative communications. Test and learn. Test and learn.
What are the qualities needed to be a Digital Strategist and what have you learned since being in the role?
You need to be a good listener. The best strategists should be able to focus their lens on a problem by immersing themselves in the research to see it from the eyes and ears of the target audience. You also need to be T-shaped – a great thinker that is extremely comfortable in digital, creative and operational conversations.
I’ve learned so much but I’ve got much to learn still from everyone around me. One take out that has stuck with me is to always ask why. Why should brand X be doing sponsorship? Why are we using these channels to engage? Why are we doing what we’re doing? It will get your work to a more exciting place and make selling it in so much easier.
Can you tell us about a project/task within your Digital Strategist career that you have particularly enjoyed?
We were recently tasked with helping to define the positioning and creative for a social network purely for sports fans. I was responsible for leading the strategic thinking, brand positioning as well as supporting the team in creative development.
It was an incredibly collaborative effort with everyone pitching in at all stages to challenge the thinking and work which ultimately resulted in a better, more exciting, harder working response that the client bought. What more, the positioning piece and supporting argument will form the spine of a new brand book to help cement who they are and what they believe in.
Though there are many wins with this example, why I chose this is because it highlights the talent we have at Octagon. This was a team effort and everyone pulled their weight to deliver an amazing brand strategy and intelligent creative. We’re going beyond the expected for a sports sponsorship agency and that is very exciting to me.
By Shea Warns, Digital Strategist at Octagon.
Octagon is a global sports, entertainment, lifestyle marketing and talent representation agency.