This week, Sam Hodges, former Head of Communications at the BBC and current UK Communications Manager at Twitter gave an inspirational and encouraging Guest Speaker Session to our UCFB Wembley students. Having forged an incredibly successful career in broadcasting before moving into the ever-growing digital media industry, Sam was able to share some interesting stories with our students’ as well as providing them with sound advice for their future careers. We caught up with Sam after the session to find out more:

What advice would you give to aspiring media and communications professionals?

In the modern world if you are going into communications and PR you need to be passionate about the topics you are covering. When a journalist phones you at midnight to ask you if the front page of the Mail on Sunday is true, you need to care enough to make the story work for you. You see newspapers on the tube, you wake up to the radio, it’s all around of you, and it’s a way of life. You live it all the time.

Social media helps massively in the communications and PR industry. When I first started out I would have had no idea who the Director of Programme Publicity was at ITV; nowadays I know he has a twitter account which I can follow him on to gauge what he’s talking about. Alternatively I can go on LinkedIn to work out who’s in charge of Channel 4’s press and link up that way. Find people who are important to making your job work, engage with them, create a network, become part of a conversation and monitor it all.

My first job was because of who I knew, and that’s what it’s about; looking for the opportunities and showing willing. No one is going to need your help more than a really busy communications person, so if you’re there do what they need and even if you can’t see what you’re learning there and then, it will put you in good stead with your colleagues or your career for the future.

How do the challenges differ from a more traditional broadcast organisation at the BBC to a purely digital platform at Twitter?

At the BBC one of the benefits was the fact that the TV is always on and there are always people talking about it. It makes for a strong in-depth debate that is already happening that you can tap into and shape. One of the main challenges of Twitter is how to create that depth of conversation. Twitter is referenced on almost every newspaper page. It will be a source, the validation of an issue or the proof of a problem.

The challenge is in pulling all that equity around Twitter into a story as a company that people engage with whether it’s a small community fundraising event to a global issue such as immigration. We own Periscope too, where people show the inside of events anywhere in the world as they happen. It’s how we package up all that information into a bigger story that is stimulating in the digital world.

What are your impressions on the UCFB campus here at Wembley Stadium?

I’ve been incredibly impressed by UCFB. Not only is it at the heart of the FA in Wembley Stadium but the support and expertise of the staff is clearly evident. The people I’ve met today all have a real wealth of knowledge and passion for their work – I can imagine how inspiring and motivating must be for the students.

Read more about our Executive Guest Speaker Series

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