Founders / Interviews / PR & Communications

Balancing the Grind With Trevor Young, Communications Strategist, Adviser & Keynote Marketing Speaker

Trevor Young is a Communications strategist and adviser specialising in content marketing and social media, as well as a keynote marketing speaker.

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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your background and career?

I’m originally a journalist by profession; I moved into public relations after about five years and have worked in the consulting space ever since with a number of major PR firms plus I’ve also started and run my own agencies for a good chunk of time as well.

I’ve built up and sold two agencies in partnership with others (one a consumer PR firm, the other a brand experience agency), plus merged another firm with a global consultancy.

I started blogging and getting into social media back in 2007 and have focused heavily on the digital side of PR and comms, especially around content, ever since.

There’s a lot going on in this space – I sit at the nexus of owned, earned and social media, my philosophy is content first, and I’m a huge believer in ensuring that all the moving parts work together, strategically.

2) What is your current role and what does it entail on a day to day basis?

I have several roles currently:

(a) First and foremost I’m founder and principal strategist at Digital Citizen Group. This is my main day-to-day role. Digital Citizen specialises in digital storytelling and content-led communications.

In short, we help our clients become their own media channel so they can build visibility, influence and trust in the marketplace.

We undertake social media and content marketing strategy for large brands, strategy and tactical support for entrepreneurial fast-growth businesses, plus we work with professional thought leaders to help them build and amplify their own personal brand.

My day to day activity involves client liaison, content planning and production, social strategy, plus I provide advice and direction for our team of specialists.

(b) I’m also an author (my second book Content Marketing for PR will be published soon, so I have been busy writing, editing and preparing for its release) and a keynote speaker.

Speaking at conferences and industry events is a sideline gig but feeds nicely into the agency business and is something I fit in and around my day-to-day consulting and advisory work.

I also run my own public workshops every now and then, which is a lot of fun.

(c) And finally, I’m a founding partner along with Matt Allison and Andrés López-Varela of a professional training business called Content Leaders Academy, which runs masterclass events for content professionals.

This is a sideline project and doesn’t take much time day to day necessarily as a lot of the content has already been developed. I really love the content space and enjoy helping other professionals take their content marketing efforts to the next level.

3) What does a typical day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?

I’m generally an early riser and like to get into the office in the city, Melbourne CBD, around 7:15 am or thereabouts.

By then I’ve listened to a podcast and am in the right frame of mind for a full day’s work. Alternatively, I hang around home and get a bit of writing done, and then venture into the office once peak hour traffic has subsided a bit.

I might not get it right every time as my day is somewhat guided by client requirements, but I do like to focus my time in chunks. For example, focus on Client ‘A’ for 50 minutes and get a bit done, take a break, rinse and repeat.

I try and write every day, and I post regularly to social media. If I don’t make the effort to create my own content or share other people’s content on social media, how can I expect my clients to do likewise? Hence, this is part and parcel of my day, every day.

I check in on social media a number of times throughout the day. Again, given my job, it’s important I’m an active participant on the socials. Twitter and LinkedIn are my main priorities.

If I’m preparing a presentation or a talk, obviously this needs to be factored in. This can sometimes suck up a bit of time, especially if research is required, so I really need to be focused and organised on these occasions.

Importantly, for me anyway, I allow myself time every day to read and research, to go down online rabbit holes (within reason) to see what ideas and insights I can dig up. Part of our role as professional communicators is to stay on top of new trends and ideas.

If you’re a strategist like I am, it’s critical to be able to see emerging patterns – to synthesise thoughts and insights, and join dots. To do this effectively, you really need to feed your curiosity. So that’s what I do every day along with work: I feed my curiosity.

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4) Do you have any tips, tricks or shortcuts to help you prioritise your workload?

No real shortcuts per se, only an evolving process of trying to be smarter with how I do things. I’m constantly looking at ways to delegate things, and to systematise how I do that.

This is not something that comes naturally to me, so I need to constantly work at it.

I experiment with online tools a lot and if something works, I double-down on it. I’ve rediscovered Evernote in recent times.

It really is my constant companion – I’m forever adding ideas and links to best practice examples of social media and content marketing, plus articles and videos that I think might come in handy down the track.

I find WhatsApp to be an incredibly useful tool and am starting to use it a lot more than email these days when communicating with team members.

I’m always on the look-out for online tools that can help me be more streamlined and effective in my day to day work.

For example: for social media planning and scheduling we use Agorapulse; other services include (captions and transcriptions), Sync (Dropbox alternative), and content production tools such as Rocketium and RelayThat.

These aren’t tools that help me prioritise my workload, but more so they’re useful in helping me reduce my workload.

5) In between your job, life and all your other responsibilities, how do you ensure you find some sort of balance in your life? What are some of the things you do to take time out and recharge?

I try not to do work after hours unless I have a pressing deadline and there’s no alternative but to work into the night.

I do write, read and do my brand marketing stuff after hours, yes, but rarely client work. And if I have been hard at it for a bit, I give myself permission to sleep in and have a leisurely coffee in the morning before venturing into work.

In terms of retaining some semblance of balance in my life, there are core activities that are important to me that I tick off pretty much every week:

  • coffee catch-ups with family members
  • three gym sessions plus a Pilates class
  • watching Geelong Cats play in the AFL
  • watching my daughters play with their local football club
  • getting to the cinema
  • reading
  • walking
  • listening to podcasts, and
  • taking in one or two current favorite streamed TV series (my current faves are Bad Blood and Billions, plus anything Nordic noir).

I also find short-break working holidays within driving distance of Melbourne very worthwhile. Not necessarily for shutting the world out – I still do work stuff, just so I don’t fall behind – but different scenery makes it a relaxing experience.

6) What do you think are some of the best habits you’ve developed over the years to help you strive for success and balance?

Listening to podcasts and audiobooks is a brilliant way to stay up-to-date and learn new things, be exposed to other people’s thinking and ideas.

This is critical in our game, and podcasting and audiobooks are terrific for this reason. I think writing every day is important, even if it’s a tightly worded 1300-character story for LinkedIn.

Writing is a muscle that needs exercising, and you can only get better from doing it regularly. And jotting down thoughts and ideas.

I mentioned earlier I use Evernote a lot, but I am also a notebook junkie. I have heaps of notes that I often refer back to over a period of time.

7) Are there any books you’ve read that have helped you with work-life balance?

I read an online subscription magazine called Simplify, which is nice to dip in and out of occasionally to keep me thinking about the important things in life. Plus I subscribe to James (Atomic Habits) Clear’s newsletter.

8) What is the number one thing you do to make sure you get the most out of your day?

Setting time aside each day to write, or create content of some description, plus read. It’s so important in our industry to remain at the top of our game creatively. I find both reading (including listening to audiobooks) and writing/creating content is great for that.

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About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.