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Industry Insight with Anthony Aston

Posted 23rd February 2010

Welcome to the Industry Insights section of B-Hive. Over the next few months we will be interviewing some of Birmingham’s most successful PR, Marketing, Creative and Digital professionals – the B-Hive employers!

Today Anthony Aston, Senior Account Manager at COI News and PR (West Midlands) is telling us what differentiates a successful candidate from an unsuccessful candidate. 

What qualities determine a successful candidate from an unsuccessful candidate?

I am always impressed by a candidate that has properly researched the organisation and the role before the interview as it really shows that they are interested in the work we do. I think candidates should also show that they are enthusiastic, willing to learn and have creative yet achievable ideas that can help us deliver good quality, value for money campaigns for our clients. Even if you don't have much work experience you can still show creativity in how you have approached tasks such as university projects. When you are answering questions try and remember to back up what you are saying with examples from previous projects at work or university and I would also recommend that you always have some good questions prepared for the end of the interview as this again shows that you are interested in what we do and are keen to learn.

What sort of campaigns does COI work on?

COI is a government department and COI News & PR West Midlands has two main roles in the region; firstly as a reactive press office and secondly as a more of a PR agency, designing and delivering innovative and pro-active campaigns for a variety of government campaigns. One of the things our staff like most about COI is the huge variety in the work. On any one day you could be finding case studies for an anti-smoking campaign, answering media calls about a motorway accident or set of roadworks, writing articles for a newsletter, designing a campaign to help tackle obesity in children, suggesting local media opportunities for the Prime Minster or organising a media call for a government minister or member of the royal family. The sort of work we do requires us to be both creative and flexible in designing and delivering campaigns for a wide variety of government departments.

Have you had to adapt your campaigns during the recession? 

The recession has changed the tone of some of our campaigns and we have worked on large campaigns to show people such as and owners of small businesses what help is available to help them cope with the impact of the downturn. For example, the number of repossessions has increased during the recession so we have run a campaign in the region with local authorities, the courts and advice services such as the Citizens Advice Bureau to show people where to go for help if they are struggling to meet mortgage payments. One of the tactics we used in this partnership approach was the use of case studies on websites and in the local media to show people that if you tackle the problem head on and seek help there is a good chance that you may be able to stay in your own home.
As we work on government campaigns it has always been important to show value for money. Over the past few years more emphasis has been placed on the evaluation of campaigns and showing clients exactly what we have achieved for their money; who we have reached and what impact the message has had.

Keep checking the B-Hive website for the next interview in our series. If you have any questions that you would us to ask the B-Hive employers then please direct message them to our B-Hive twitter at

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