Student Blog- The last day

The last day in the office was nostalgic for me as I have enjoyed every day I spent at Volpa, with the different projects I was welcomed to take part in, various in-office tasks, and all the meetings and training sessions which have taught me so much. I have had the opportunity to apply the knowledge I have gained during my university course in a practical, real-world situation where my actions mattered and my suggestions were taken into account. It has been an amazing experience and when today came about I did not want it to end.

We had the regular Publicity Department Meeting today to review the progress of ongoing projects and improve on them by taking in suggestions from all team members – even if they are not the ones managing or working on that particular project. The main topics for discussion were product launches for both Aurora Spirit and Inveralmond Brewery as they are due in the next couple of weeks and they also overlap with the Easter holidays. This meant that a well-defined plan for both events (and confirmation from the team members of who can attend which event) was set in place in order to ensure the undoubtful success of the launches.

After lunch we had a Team Meeting as well where Tricia went through the new updates for the business and all the coming changes and important projects with which all of the team must become familiarised. I was fortunate to have my placement at such a time as I was privy to the old systems and organisation of the business and then I had the chance to see the improvements and changes made on them in order to optimise processes, minimise waste, and increase turnover – all the while maintaining the amazing Volpa business culture which makes work an enjoyable part of one’s day where you want to come back time and time again.

I continued working on the list of existing retailers for The Famous Grouse Experience to compile a database of their contact information. This has been a very time-consuming task but it was very rewarding as I felt entrusted with a high level of trust and responsibility which made me feel appreciated by the team. The team were extremely lovely and presented me with a good luck card as it was my last day and with a couple of gift cards to continue growing my book collection and to enjoy a little film treat.

Thank you everyone for the amazing experience which you have offered me and for making me feel welcome and a part of the Volpa family!

Student Blog- Organising a photo shoot

It was a shorter than usual day in the office, as I had to leave at 2 pm in order to arrive in time to a meeting taking place at the University, but nonetheless very interesting and engaging. I spent the better part of the day researching on the internet in order to compare the offer Kingsway Apartments advertises with its competitors in the Dundee area. It made me feel very engaged in the project and it made me more confident in my own abilities as the research I had done was not only take into consideration but used as a point of reference for what should be advertised on the website and what would make the offer more appealing, well-rounded, and competitive.

The owner of Kingsway Apartments – the former Alloway Halls – decided that he wants to re-open the halls he purchased from Abertay University to students at an affordable price whilst ensuring it offers a high quality of living; and he decide to bring his business to Volpa and ask the specialist team here help with everything from website design to organising promotional photoshoots. Now, while on the topic of photoshoots, the day after my placement we actually organised one in order to be able to show real images from the new private halls. I enjoyed the experience as I felt Fraser put a lot of his trust in me by involving me in the process and relying on me to find 6 students to take part in the photoshoot – which, granted, was not such a hard task once I was given the green light to offer pizza as method of repaying them for helping; although I did have changes to the students coming twice fold due to unforeseen circumstances which I am rather grateful­­­  for as it put me in the situation of having to resolve a mini-crisis in a mature and timely manner.

Five of us had previously lived at Alloway in first year so going back was a trip down memory lane – but a rather more modern, comfortable, and affordable lane than the one we remembered. We had a great time as it did not even feel like a true photoshoot when all eyes are on you and you feel so dwarfed by the camera lens and the blinding light but rather like a nice gathering of friends, chatting and having pizza together (which happened rather often at Alloway so it was oddly suitable). All in all, it was good fun and also a very instructive experience for me!

Before leaving for my meeting in Dundee. Fraser showed me how they upload my blogs to the website and I had the chance to see a face of it not visible to regular users. The platform they use is very user friendly while at the same time all-encompassing when it comes to all the features and details which can be added to/on the website. I think it is safe to say I would be rather good at uploading blogs – now all I have left to do is find the company which advertises the ‘high-paying’ job of Blog Uploader (but without asking for the content of said blog to be made by the uploader) and I am sorted.

In the last half an hour of my time in the office I had the pleasure of sitting in on another presentation telling the story of how each of the Volpa employees grew from little children with big dreams to adults who are now working for Volpa with a truckload of memorable moments (some downright amusing, some serious, some moving) and great expertise. The story I got to hear was that of Alison Lowson, PR Executive at Volpa, and it kept us laughing throughout with all these wild and unforgettable stories of a woman who lived a full and fulfilling life while pursuing the career she wanted before deciding to try something new.


Student Blog – A day in the office

In the morning Fraser had a look over the cover letters for the three positions I was applying for as part of the first Supplementary List offered by the Saltire Scholarship. Receiving feedback from a professional over my style of writing and ideas was not only extremely useful but it also gave insight in the way someone receiving such a cover letter would perceive it and analyse it. Fraser said they were all really good having only small suggestions over what should be changed in some or what should be impressed upon in others – this helped built my confidence in my writing skills, for it is one thing to believe you might be a good writer and a completely another to actually hear that from someone who’s opinion is sanctioned and relevant.

Afterwards, I had the opportunity to sit in on another meeting of the PR department and to hear about the progress of all upcoming projects which are currently under development. For example, I learned there will be a huge and rather impressive LEGO™ Exhibition at Perth Museum in March and just by hearing the updates on the exhibition and its publicity campaign made me really want to go visit it once it is open to the public. ­Another story had the Balhousie Care Home at its centre, highlighting the new initiative taken by the care home in giving its residents a say in the selection of their carers and the care process itself – a commendable initiative, in my opinion, which takes into account the most important part of a care home, its residents.

One of the most exciting update for me was, however, the March launch by the Famous Grouse of another type of Whisky, distilled in 1987 and which has never been presented to the public before. The announcement was not exciting due to my love of alcohol (rather non-existent to the sore disappointment of my university friends – though I will always appreciate a good quality drink if the occasion or meal calls for it) but because the week previous I was actually involved in a part of the publicity process – without even realising it until now. Volpa was given two bottles of the precious whisky to help promote it and I was entrusted with the task of pouring one of the bottles into 14 smaller bottles to be sent to different bloggers, connoisseurs, and opinion-makers in order to hear their opinion of it. From the smell of it I can definitely attest it is a very good whisky (even with my rudimentary level of whisky knowledge) but I reckon that Gordon’s opinion who seems very well versed in the whisky world and who did not just smell it but took the “angels’ share” of the bottle (not exactly the vapour released by the evaporation process during maturation but rather the last 15 ml I had left over).

Afterwards, Fraser had a couple of meetings he had to attend and he left me with the job of compiling a list of all written Scottish publications and their daily ABC totals (the number of physical copies sold each day by the publication). Volpa uses the figures when delivering coverage reports to their clients in order to give tangible evidence of the approximate number of people reached by a particular advert or article. It was a tedious job but at the same time with each new line or sheet added to my Excel document that sense of satisfaction and pride in yourself that you have when make something from scratch, with your hands came over me. I suppose it is because it was one of the first important/official documents I was writing which will actually help Fraser from now on (not to mention that I was pleasantly surprised of how naturally writing it and coming up with a formal, yet easy to understand format was). I managed to finish the entire list just a few minutes before 5 o’clock which was just in time for Fraser to have a look over it and be pleased with my results – at least I know I can do basic data presentation right.

Student Blog – My first client meeting

Whenever you see businessmen in films going to meetings they have this omnibus of documents with them, as if trying to impress the customer through the sheer size of the stack of papers they have. It somehow infers that unless you present yourself with all the documentation and information which you have amassed over the years in physical form people will not take you seriously and neither will they consider you prepared. Today started off with a meeting with the owner and senior staff of St Andrews Aquarium and Fraser showed me how you are supposed to truly be in a meeting with a client. Sure, he had some documents with him but only few with the most important pieces of information, but what he truly had and required was knowledge; in-depth knowledge of the project he is working on, the expectation of his client, and – maybe most important – what kind of person his client was in regards to how he liked to be interacted with.

The meeting had one main focus and that was the new website of the Aquarium, together with the its new booking system, one which is state-of-the-art and even more advanced than the one used by Edinburgh Zoo. Fraser enquired about the thoughts and opinions of the owner and senior staff regarding the layout, display, and ease of use of the new website (which had gone live a few days previous), not forgetting to ask about the accuracy of information displayed (especially in concern to the animal descriptions). Fraser was like a fish in water – what an apt comparison since we are speaking of the Aquarium – he knew what to say and how to say it, he knew when to listen, what questions to ask, and when to offer suggestions. One could tell he was well versed in all aspects regarding the Aquarium and the project itself, coming across as not only knowledgeable and genuinely interested, but also as very confident on his proposal and expertise – but without seeming full of himself. He was genuine and personally vested in project’s success and that is exactly the kind of person the Aquarium wanted to do business with.

Seeing Fraser in action was a very educative and invaluable experience which taught me a lot about how I should be and want to be in the future when I will work in the field of business. It showed me how important it is to establish good rapport with your client in order to not only get to know them and the way they think to understand their expectations but, most importantly, to build trust. The outcome of the meeting was a very happy client who gave very positive feedback, being extremely happy over how useful, all-encompassing, and straightforward the website was (and ditto to the system behind it).

After the meeting I had the chance to have a look through the Aquarium – which I had never visited up until that point – and I was charmed by it. It was so lovely to go from area to area and from tank to tank and actually see the animals I comprised lists of and designed poster around. I even had a stingray come smile at me (granted, she was only up for some air but the timing was right and it put a smile on my face for the rest of the day) and a some very friendly penguins making jumps and tumbles in the water. I even had the chance to take a sneak peek to the Amazon Room which is now under construction and promises to be an experience on its own. I will definitely come back with my friends once it has its grand opening in April!

Once we were back at the office, Gordon and I had a look over the rough body of the poster we were discussing last week and I was pleasantly surprised of how it is beginning to look – especially since Gordon is helping me with a project which is not planned in the break-down and allocation of his working hours.

Afterwards, Fraser gave me the task of actually coming up with a presentation of my proposed advertising campaign for the Aquarium – one that I could then present to the owner. It gave much more gravity and importance to my work and research and motivated me to ensure that I will create and deliver the best quality presentation I can – now all I need to do (apart from extensive research and planning) is keep my fingers and toes crossed in the hopes that my ideas are not only viable but, also, to the liking of the Aquarium owner.

Student Blog- “My first day in the real world”

Today I started working for Volpa as part of the placement programme offered by my course and it was my first proper experience in the world of work associated with my degree. It was an amazing experience, so very different from my part-time job of convenience which just helps me say I am self-sufficient.

The day started off with a presentation on the story of Volpa and a short bios done by half of the team – the first part of a ‘meet and greet’ between co-workers after a wave of new employees which expanded the team significantly. It was different, it was refreshing, and it gave you a sense of belonging. The atmosphere at work, how open and friendly everyone is gives a sense of belonging to a lovely extend family and it made me think of my visit at Google headquarters – where an inclusive, open, and friendly atmosphere was ever-present.

I went into the placement programme without a preference for one or other area of business for the simple fact that liking and understanding the theory of a specific area is not indicative of how fulfilling or engaging working in that area is; especially when the company you work for and its culture, value, and environment are all very important factors in determining whether one loves their job or hates it. Now, I can confidently say that, so far, my experience at Volpa has made me very interested in the area of marketing and in their approach to delivering all-encompassing services.

After lunch I had the chance to look over some of the currently ongoing projects and familiarise myself with the template of proposals for future projects. I find the integrated approach Volpa has to delivering the end service very well suited to its corporate culture and it helps deliver a much more well-rounded and complete service at very high standards; also, I think it helps nurture the sense of community as everybody interacts with everybody else and ensures that nobody feels like they are alone or that they might not have anyone to turn to, even if it is just for a pep-talk.

My mentor, Fraser, encouraged me to choose a project on which I would like to work and follow it along throughout the duration of my placement (he said I’ll be working on several short-term ones as well but taking into account that I am there only once a week some projects might be finished by the time I am in next so a long-term one gives a certain continuation and allows me to follow the development of it in-depth). I chose working on the marketing campaign for the St Andrews Aquarium which is bound to be very interesting and challenging but in a fulfilling way.

Now, all that is left to do is hope that my proposed advertising campaign (to Fraser’s specifications) will make sense and be feasible – fingers crossed till next time!


Hot Design Trends for 2017

It’s a fact that designers and marketers are always looking for new ways to engage current clients and new customers. In 2017, I believe there will be a step-change for designers across the board.

With rapid changes in technology, the way we create and define our messages mean that the design landscape is now bigger than we can imagine. Everyone is now far more comfortable with new technology and now expect more. This year will bring many design-led trends to the fore to influence and make all of us interact even more, here are perhaps some examples of what will be big in 2017.

Motion Picture Graphics / Cinemagraphs – Bring still images and illustrations to life with subtle motion. This design trend grabs the attention of a user with just a flicker of movement but doesn’t distract them from the main content.

Minimalism – This isn’t a new creative field for design however, minimalism always creates a visual where the user gets the message quickly but with an effective, striking and sometimes humorous image or design. This is a case of what comes around, comes around again.

Micro Animations / Illustrated (Hand Drawn) Images – Clever designers can put the ‘fun’ into ‘functional’ too. This kind of animations and logo/icon transitions will engage and inform at the same time.

Bold Photography and Sleek Typography – Bold pictures with bold colours could be the trend this year. Let’s all agree that it’s a given, typography is just as important and arguably more important than any other design and many other creative mediums. It’s a stand-alone or complimentary creative form and when used well, it’s all you might need, but when it’s bad, it’s almost pointless.

There are free fonts available everywhere so this could be an opportunity for designers to express themselves more but I also see more of a do-it-yourself (get the scissors out kind of experiment), see the new Fanta Brand and sub-brands. This example creates a brand that is full of personality and yes… fun! Surely, that’s what we as designers are all striving to do!

Trends will come and go (just like the penchant for beards), and every design job is different, but fundamentals like innovation and learning remain. We all now realise that change is happening so quickly today for everyone but you must trust your own ideas and whatever you do, please, please, please don’t follow trends for trends sake. Know that what you’re doing is right for your client and design to brief, but like every good film or book (add a twist).

Keep on creating!

Gordon Low, Head of Creative

What can we learn about experiential marketing from Scottish farm shops?

After a client meeting, I found myself drawn up the farm track (almost magnetically) towards the impressive Balgove Larder just outside of St. Andrews.

Located so close to one of the most iconic Scottish spots, you could say Balgove offers tourists an even more authentic Scottish experience than the obvious – like a stroll over Swilican Bridge on the Old Course.

In a growing trend, brands are attempting to be more genuine and authentic whilst delivering unique and memorable experiences for shoppers in order to increase sales.

David Moth, Social Media Manager of Econsultancy, tells us: “The premise of experiential marketing is to create a closer bond between the consumer and the brand by immersing them in a fun and memorable experience.”

Scottish farm shops have flourished in the past decade with more and more  visitors increasing spending on everyday items. Whilst some would argue that supporting local businesses and an increased focus on provenance have driven the shift in consumer interest, I believe there’s more to it than that. I would argue that honesty, transparency and trust have driven this change…remember that nasty horsemeat scandal?

While the cafes and restaurants in these farms serve top quality nosh in increasingly impressive surroundings, it is their direct influence on the retail part of the business that interests me. As I type (and haphazardly attempt to eat my Balgove black pudding roll) almost every customer in the cafe leaves with something from the shop…job done!

For me the coffee shops and cafes serve as a “frame-of-mind adjustor” or, more crudely, they get us drunk on the idea of provenance, quality, taste and sustainability to the point that we impulse buy a week’s shop at about three times the cost of our normal supermarket trip.

In that sense I cannot think of a more effective influential marketing tool than the farm shop cafe. To all the big city marketers looking for a case study in how experiential marketing should be done: take a trip to you local farm shop.

They’re utterly authentic, uncompromisingly proud and delightfully un-salesy.

Fraser, Head of Publicity