Amy joined McCann Dublin over four years ago as a Social Media & Content Specialist. She was promoted to Social Media & Content Manager before becoming the Peggy Olson she always knew she could be in 2017. Since then she has worked on through the line campaigns for FMCG brands, tech giants, civic bodies and charitable organisations.
I graduated from Communications Studies in DCU in 2011, having specialised in video production. Those were dark times. There was no work for a recent graduate who didn’t really know what she wanted to do, not paid work anyway.
Throughout college I worked as a supervisor in the Quiksilver store in Stephen’s Green. I worked my way up to Manager, honing my creative skills at every opportunity. I made my own window displays, painted a blackboard wall that I covered with seasonal drawings, and shot flat lays for the shop’s social media.
I was working, I had money to keep myself in mojitos, I could grip a skateboard, things were good, but there was always something missing. I set myself a deadline – and with no job to go to – resigned in September 2013. It was terrifying, but as Joey Tribbiani once said, “I needed the fear”.
I did freelance writing jobs for friends and colleagues who had started their own businesses, but I needed something steady. I applied for internships and was offered quite a few positions. Only when offers were made would they slip in that the job was unpaid, but great experience. I’m all for paying my dues but nobody should have to work for free, there is a minimum wage for a reason. I took a JobsBridge internship (yup, remember those) working as Marketing and PR Intern for IFTA and IFTN. It was a baptism of fire. I learned a lot about the world of marketing and media. I also learned a lot about what I didn’t want to do, corralling a red carpet was not for me.
From there I moved on to GOAL where I was Digital Content Officer. I loved my job. I wrote every day and felt like – in my own small way – I was making a difference. I was responsible for all digital content: social media, blogs, stories from GOAL programmes. I even ghost-wrote for a few celebrities and higher-ups when they visited the field.
I think everybody has a few people who help to shape their careers. David Leach, my department head at GOAL was one of those people for me. He made me think about my future. He offered constructive criticism and challenged me every day. He made me do things I didn’t like to do until I was great at them. He gave me confidence. He helped to find what I was good at, and to realise what I wanted to do. I wanted to write.
Leaving GOAL was a tough decision but the opportunity to join McCann was too good to pass up. I joined as a member of the Social Team, creating social content for clients like Blue Dragon, Patak’s, TABASCO®, Deep RiverRock and Silver Hill Duck.
After seven months I was promoted to Social Media and Content Manager. I was responsible for the social team’s output, overseeing everything from strategy, copy, art direction, design and editing. This role made me the creative I am today. It gave me the ability to see creative work holistically. What we do only works when words, pictures and placement all come together perfectly. I relished the challenge of this role, but while overseeing other’s work, I found myself missing writing.
Enter another seminal figure in my working life, AVB Group MD Stephen Conway. We were having a chat over tea downstairs in Osteria Lucio when he asked “What do you really want to do?” “I want to write” I told him. “Let’s see what we can do about that” was his response. A few months after that conversation McCann were looking for a copywriter. Stephen asked if I was going to apply. I hadn’t thought I could because of the gap I would leave in my current role. He assured me that was his problem to solve, not mine. So, I applied.
I went through the same application process as external candidates. There was an initial interview with the McCann CD, then a presentation to him and the Group CD. I put my heart and soul into it and got the job.
My journey to this role had given me a lot of skills. I was a good writer – particularly for digital channels – and a good presenter. I could edit video, and had an appreciation for a tidy visual. It had not however prepared me for the world of traditional media. The first radio script I wrote was more like a short drama, it must have been a minute and a half long. But I asked for help, learned from my mistakes and absorbed the knowledge around me like a sponge. Now radio is one of my favourite media.
I love what I do. I get to write every day and every project is different. At McCann I have written radio and press ads, six sheets, video scripts and treatments, animations and even a children’s book. I have helped to create brands and informed how they speak to the world. I have made work for Microsoft, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), Dublin City Council, safefood, Nakd and countless other clients.
With my fellow creatives I have made work that I could never even have imagined when I left Quiksilver in September 2013. Work that I will forever be proud of. Joey was right, sometimes you do “need the fear”.