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Au'Guest' Blog post - A love of Brighton & Hove always helps when working on the city's Inward Investment prospectus

Written by Paul Barrett, Head of Search for GSBA as part of the Wired Sussex guest blog month

When it comes to working in a creative culture, there aren’t many better places to be than right here in sunny Brighton.  It’s one of the main things that brought me back to these shores.

I started my career in media more by accident than anything.  After the standard travelling year post University I got my first ‘proper’ job in 2004 at the fledgling ecommerce department at First Choice Holidays up at Gatwick airport.  This was the perfect excuse to up-sticks from Hertfordshire and head to the seaside of Brighton (Hove actually) and start my life in the professional, grown up online world.

I quickly realised at First Choice that the online marketing side of the business was what I found most interesting and in particular, the relatively new paid service Google was offering within their search results.  After a few great years I decided to focus on PPC more and moved to the one-man-band company that was SiteVisibility as an Account Manager (and tea boy, receptionist, accounts, excel specialist and many other roles which have to be undertaken in a 2 person company!).  I was under the stewardship of search engine optimisation guru Damon Lightley and it was under his watchful eye that I became a specialist in both PPC and SEO which helped the company to grow to the point where I was able to gain experience, managing and mentoring 2 executives including the 2011 top young SEO in the UK, Kelvin Newman.

Then, in the Summer of 2007 I was offered a role which I couldn’t refuse; Head of Search at MediaCom in Sydney, Australia.  After travelling there in 2003, I knew I wanted to go back to live and work so naturally I jumped at the chance when the opportunity arose.  The role at MediaCom was great, building up a team from just 3 to 16 people across 3 states over 3 years, the experience and challenge that the role gave me was invaluable.  By 2011, I felt I had taken the job as far as I could and was beginning to miss more and more about the motherland (like the fact you can’t get Scotch eggs in Australia!) so I decided it was time to head back and resume my life in the UK.

Naturally, Brighton was the only place for me to live....and I desperately hoped to work here as well; the thought of commuting to London was not an appealing one.  I also knew that a pure search role was not going to be something I was after, instead I was looking for a company where I could put into practice the skills I had built up in analytics, usability, operations management and of course, search.  Then, up-came a Head of Search role at GSBA, a full service marketing agency based in the heart of Brighton.  After meeting with MD Matt Parkinson it became immediately apparent that this was a company that had big ambitions for the future and being relatively small there was plenty of opportunity for me to mould a role for myself that was wider than just PPC and SEO.  After a year in the company it’s clear I made the right choice, the team is expanding with really talented guys and girls - developers who can code anything, a design team whose creativity knows no bounds and an extremely dedicated account management team (some with over 30 years service to GSBA).

We are really getting to showcase our talents on the upcoming Brighton prospectus project which involves designing and building a website to attract inward investment into the city from external businesses and entrepreneurs.  It is these type of projects that brings the whole GSBA crew together to work as a team and deliver something really exciting which should benefit everyone living in Brighton.  Clearly this is a really challenging project, with the critical eye of many a media person in Brighton sure to be cast on our work, but it’s definitely a challenge that both me and the rest of the team are more than up for!

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