Continuing the Business News Wales’ Women in Business series, Tanya Lynch has interviewed, content and social media expert and Director of LED Media, Laura Dunn. Laura gives an insight into her media career, how she stays motivated and who inspires her.
Please tell us a bit about yourself…
I’m passionate about the role of technology and social media in our everyday lives, and started my business at the age of 25 to explore how businesses and individuals can tell their stories through new and emerging technology. Fast forward 3.5 years, I work with clients across Wales, the UK and the USA. I’ve always been passionate about how digital can break down barriers and nurture real engagement in society. Over the past several years I have been committed to introducing organisations to the benefits of digital – whether that be boosting business, highlighting a campaign or helping politicians to reach their constituents. Outside of my professional work, I run the blog, Political Style and feature women in business on a regular series in the Huffington Post.
Who are you and what do you do?
I am the Director of LED Media, a digital communications, content and social media company based in Newport. I work with clients in the public, private and third sectors, providing support and expertise in digital strategy, content creation and how to engage and motivate customers. I also work with politicians and parties on a bespoke basis.
What is your role within the communications industry?
As a business owner, I primarily work with clients on their digital and social media objectives. I also am a regular guest speaker, sharing my expertise and experience of the industry at events such as the annual Digital conference in Wales and International Women’s Day. I am also a blogger, running Political Style, a blog dedicated to fashion and politics.
Why did you decide to work in communications?
I’ve always had a passion for writing and telling the stories of others- starting out in political communications and working with politicians in the US and the UK has helped me to hone my craft, widened my network and enabled me to specialise in particular types of digital communications. My experience of working in the House of Representatives in Washington DC opened up many possibilities, and it gave me the confidence and the contacts to begin my business and work with clients in the US. The unique mix of organisations and individuals that I work with continually gives me the energy to try new things and spot new digital opportunities to create dialogue and empower society from the bottom up.
How has the communications/media industry changed over the past decade?
We’ve seen digital dominate the communications industry over the past decade. Gone is the traditional press release, instead replaced by Twitter for breaking news and Facebook to build a community. We’re seeing an instant demand from all media consumers, providing great opportunities for brands and organisations to create content that truly engages their customer base and creates an authentic experience. It has provided innovative and exciting opportunities for creative professionals like myself to be at the forefront of the changing media landscape.
What challenges have you over come as a woman working within this industry?
I can’t recall a time where I have felt I have had to overcome a challenge as a woman. With more women than ever doing awesome things in the communications industry, you never feel alone and there is always a support network to talk to. I’m incredibly lucky to know some outstanding communications professionals in the UK and the US, and working with them and seeking their advice makes being a part of this industry a complete privilege. It’s vital that we all work together to achieve great things and help those who are starting out on their professional journey.
What has been the most exciting time in your career to date?
I recently ran a digital campaign as part of the General Election- it was really exciting to be a small part of a really big project, and over the seven weeks I learned so much. The experience has given me the confidence to specialise in some new digital tools and techniques, broadened my professional network and given birth to some exciting new business ideas!
What advice would you give anyone wishing to start their career in communications and/or start their own business?
I would say go for it! Continually work on your portfolio, saying yes to all opportunities both in and outside your comfort zone. Be diligent in keeping a record of what you’re doing, whether that is a website or a digital portfolio to share with potential clients. Network as much as you can, attending groups, events and connecting with influencers and stakeholders online. And don’t be afraid to ask for help and advice- many are extremely giving of their time. There’s never a better time than now to set out on your entrepreneurial journey!
How do you motivate yourself and stay motivated?
I’m a firm believer in a to do list, so everyday I write down what I need and want to accomplish and take great satisfaction in getting it done. Working towards the end goal keeps me motivated, and I always keep the end objective in sight. Whether it is a campaign or a blog post, producing the very best piece of work satisfies me immensely. The treat of a pair of shoes also helps!
How do manage a work/life balance?
I’m not such a thing exists! But I try to switch off my computer at a sensible time every evening, limit my iPhone use when I can and take regular breaks away from my desk. When I’m travelling this can be tricky, but it is important to experience the world outside of the screens which dominate our every day lives.
What exciting projects are you involved in this year?
I’m currently working with a great South Wales B2B and B2C company on their digital strategy and business development. I’m also working on several digital democracy concepts. I’m also developing my Political Style blog which has dramatically grown in readership and reach in the UK and the US over the past 6 months.
Who is your inspiration in your industry?
The work done by Arianna Huffington and Sheryl Sandberg in creating digital brands and empowering women is particularly inspiring. In the political space, I admire the work done by President Obama’s digital team and the impact it has had on political activism, campaigning and democracy across the world.
What do you like most about working in Wales?
Wales in like a village and it’s a friendly place to live and do business. It’s exciting to see Wales leading the way in the digital and start-up space, and I am proud to work with many businesses who are making their mark promoting Wales on the world stage. As I said in a recent piece for the IWA, Wales is a nation unafraid to think big and take risks.
What’s one of the biggest advances in your industry over the past five years?
Without a doubt the proliferation and dominance of mobile technology. We can now do everything on a smart device, and that includes running a business. It makes updating social media profiles, creating a presentation or filing an invoice much easier!
If you didnt work within the media what would be your chosen career or business?
Tough question! I’ve always loved fashion, so perhaps a designer or part of a creative team!