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Daniel Rowles – CEO Target Internet, Programme Director Imperial College & Host of the Digital Marketing Podcast
Talk: The future of digital marketing

Daniel is the CEO of Target Internet, training leading businesses including Google and host of the Digital Marketing Podcast. Daniel broke his talk up into three sections: Artificial Intelligence, Data and Trust and Community. Some key points:

Artificial Intelligence

  • Can use AI for your keywords via a Google Chrome extension
  • Increasing noise – 4 million blog posts as lots of people are pumping out low quality content so we have to cut through the noise
  • There are some ethical challenges as we can’t detect whether this is AI generated content

Data and Trust

  • Third party cookies are starting to be blocked
  • Average click through rate is 18%
  • Less transparent data
  • An hour of your voice means your voice can be deepfake – can’t trust anything you hear anymore


  • What actually makes you and your agency human?
  • Investing in brand and leaning what makes us human is important
  • CRM – lots of opportunity for networking

Download slides here.

Ash Jones – Founder, Great Influence
Talk: Building a personal brand to become a “gateway drug” for your business

Ash Jones is founder of Great Influencer, working with some of the UK’s leading entrepreneurs and influencers on their personal brands including Stephen Bartlett and Grace Beverley. Ash explained how “personal brand” has become somewhat of a buzzword and there’s what he calls a lot of “LinkedIn cringe” with people using LinkedIn for their ego, likes and validation. Used correctly, your personal brand and LinkedIn can be leveraged to become a gateway for businesses. Ash explained how showing your face is one of the most competitive advantages, and how content is key – both of these components give you and your team credibility and a good reputation. LinkedIn is a noisy social platform at the moment but if there’s loads of people doing the wrong thing, doing the right thing will allow you to stand out.

Download slides here.

Olivia Mae-Hanlon – CEO & Founder, Girls in Marketing
Talk: Building, managing and monitoring brand perception online

Olivia is founder & CEO of Girls in Marketing, in less than four years, she’s built one of the biggest communities for marketers across the globe. How? By building and maintaining a strong brand both online and offline. It’s not just about “building” a brand, it’s also important to maintain it. Olivia explained that one of the most important aspects to building a brand is: Brand Perception. Brand Perception is the sum of a consumer’s feelings, experiences and thoughts about a product or service. It’s what people believe a brand represents, rather than what a brand says it represents. Olivia then talked the audience through four examples of good brand perception and gave some top tips for improving how your brand is perceived by audiences.

Slides not available.

Azeem Ahmad – Digital Marketing Lead, ASSA ABLOY
Talk: Bridging the gap: Aligning digital marketing with equality

Azeem is a leading digital marketer and talked to the Up North audience about the importance of aligning digital marketing with equality. On top of his day job Azeem is a conference speaker and also runs a digital marketing podcast that prioritises people that are from marginalised groups. Azeem started off his talk with some statistics:

  • 60% of LGBTQ+ don’t feel safe enough to be ‘out’ at work
  • Just 7% of UK ads put people of colour as the sole or main protagonist
  • 84% of consumers think it’s important for brands to promote diversity & inclusion
  • £252bn per annum: The disposable income of people from minority ethnic groups
  • Studies show that male confidence is assumed, whereas a woman’s is earned

Azeem then talked us Dove’s #ShowUs campaign, explaining how they are getting diversity and inclusion right and how this had a positive impact on the bottom line. Azeem ended the session by talking about equality: “the state of being equal, especially in status, rights, or opportunities”. He provided us with more facts and statistics and some actions that can immediately be implemented to help align equality within your digital marketing efforts.

Download slides here.

Rosa Mitchell – Business Director, connective3
Talk: Conquering confidence: how to improve confidence when working in business

Rosa’s talk explored the importance of having confidence when working in digital marketing and how you can start to implement some simple actions to be more confident. Rosa started off her talk by explaining how one third of young people lack confidence and how you can grow confidence to a level where you feel fine in situations where you have zero experience. Rosa then explained that resilience is “the psychological strength to cope with stress and hardship”, stating that 32% of the working population have low levels of resilience due to stress. Rosa explained how digital marketing isn’t always an easy career path, you need to combine creative, analytical, results driven, public scrutiny and you need to be confident to really harness your creativity. Rosa then explained the barriers to being confident and provided some actionable ways to over come these barriers including prioritising working on self-esteem, challenging negative beliefs and self-deprecating language, help other people recognise that they are good at and so much more.

Download slides here.

Abi Bennetts – Digital PR Manager, Propellernet
Talk: Psychology principles to power your digital team’s success

With burnout being openly discussed in the digital marketing industry more than ever before, and many of those working in digital sharing the same traits of conscientiousness and perfectionism, Abi revealed how we can use research-backed psychological theories to help high-performing digital teams achieve success and manage their wellbeing more effectively.

Download slides here.


In her talk, Kelliesha shared her thoughts on how to really connect with your audience on a tangible level. According to Kelliesha, this is key to being a successful marketer and ‘being you’ is what really allows you to make your connections, both with individuals and brands. She spoke about how the best campaigns derive from people connecting with the right people at the right time and that purpose should be embedded in every aspect of your business. Kelliesha’s three marketing truths are:

  • Always stay curious
  • Never assume
  • Indulge in different cultures

Slides not available.


John shared his insights and experiences on his time working as copyrighter and social media manager at Innocent Smoothies and his current role at Surreal. According to John, the key to social media success is to make people love your brand- selling things is a second priority. You need people to feel like they want to connect with the brand product posts aren’t going to get the best engagement. Make it fun and remember that ‘behaving yourself achieves nothing’. When it comes to posting on social media, John doesn’t believe that posts need to be directly related to your brand and products – instead, you need to create a personality for your brand. This can mean that sometimes you need to be a bit cheeky. One of John’s top tips? Don’t always wait for sign off – if you’re 70% sure, go for it!

Slides not available.


Grace began her talk by talking about how she had faced countless rejections when applying for jobs before she shared her infamous cover letter on LinkedIn. This post went on to open doors that she didn’t even know existed. It eventually secured her the role as Head of Content for Steven Bartlett and The Diary of a CEO. Grace discussed how this post turned her into a paid creative, secured her invites to high profile events and talks and created connections with influential individuals within the digital space. Grace went on to discuss how she joined The Diary of a CEO when the company had 11,000 YouTube subscribers – it is now at nearly 3m. She believes that the businesses success is down to its three key values:

  • Hyper focus – having a vision and not letting anyone or anything break that vision
  • Incremental gains – the power of consistency, experimentation and making small improvements on a daily basis
  • Always being willing to break the mould – create something that evokes feelings and don’t be afraid to try something that hasn’t been done before

Grace Andrews on stage at Up North

Slides not available.


David began his talk by discussing how PR has changed over the past 10 years. He explained the importance of relevance, stating that ‘it’s not a numbers games, it’s a relevancy game’. David believes that relevance is only going to get more important too, especially as AI becomes more prevalent and as search changes. He discussed how we need to take a step back and consider how we can ensure that our content is seen by the right people and how we can answer the questions that our customers have. David explained ‘it’s no longer enough to think of an idea and push it out of the door’ – we need to research our audience and create content that suits their needs. David went onto outline the tools and platforms that can help PRs in 2023:

  • Social listening – allowing us to respond to customers and provide the content they’re looking for
  • The use of AI – for data capture and to support tasks such as press releases and finding sources for your content
  • Influencer collaborations – working with influencers to drive trust and authority

Download slides here.


In her talk, Leigh started by outlining how journalists today are not very accessible and this is why it’s so important that PRs and brands are pitching stories that suit the journalist’s audience demographic. Leigh shared her insights into the newsroom and explained how lockdown has meant that the media has had to adapt. She explained how establishing relationships with journalists is still extremely important and that PRs should always be proactive with their pitches and keep stories relevant and fresh in order to capture attention. Leigh’s key takeaways included:

  • Make sure your pitch includes everything the journalist needs
  • Images are very important
  • Explain all the details, but keep it streamlined
  • Listicles are always great and easy to digest

Slides not available.

PR Panel (Q&A)
With David White (connective3), Libby Windle (connective3), Leigh Purves (Journalist & Broadcaster) & Abi Bennetts (Propellernet)

Questions were submitted around a number of topics relevant to the PR industry in 2023 and the pane of experts shared their insights, experiences and predictions. Topics included:

  • The use of AI in PR
  • Can every brand be PR’d?
  • How we should be looking at relevancy in PR
  • Is there still a need for face-to-face meetings?
  • Do journalists really blacklist PRs?
  • The types of campaigns and strategies that are performing well in 2023
  • The biggest challenges in PR in 2023

Up North PR Panel

Check out the full event wrap up here, stage two here and make sure you’re following us on social to keep up to date with everything that’s going on.