You have arrived, Episode 3 of our Origin Story series, each week we will give you a glimpse into the super heroes of the Canadian public relations industry who have gotten into the business, learned the craft and the ones behind some amazing brands and campaigns.
In our third episode we talk with Sean Beckingham, President of Branding & Buzzing [TCO].
Think back to your teenage days, what did you think you’d be doing today?
- Working for GQ magazine. Back then I would buy the one every Thursday and pour over articles about clothes, lifestyle, manliness, and imagined having a job with them in some capacity.
Three career moments that got you here?
- Witnessing the introduction of Facebook marketing
- The ability to do social on iPhones
- ALWAYS building my rolodex; you’ve got to know people
Three jobs that helped define the person you are today?
- Family Restaurant Employee – The 1st day I started working at my family’s restaurant I thought I was going to be the manager straight away, as I was the owners kid. Dad handed me a cloth and assigned me clean-up duty. It was that day I realized you have to work from the ground up. It might not be the job you want but the job of the future might requires different types of experiences.
- Modeling Agent – In the late 90’s, early 2000’s it was an interesting time to be an agent. It gave me the chance to work with the top international brands and models. I learned how to properly manage creative people, young and old, conservative and outlandish AND from all walks of life around the world.
- Art Director – When I was in the position, I thought that the accomplishment was producing epic photoshoots with expensive cars, exotic locations and top models. Looking back, the actual accomplishment was gaining an understanding of content marketing and how to present things well in a digital space.
When did you know you wanted to work in this industry?
- At the Toronto Festival of Beer. I was so excited by the idea. Clearly, I like beer.
Tell me about your first campaign:
- My first full social media campaign was back in 2012 for a hashtag #BeerMe promotion. It was conceptualized while brainstorming how we can get more people to talk about the Toronto Festival of Beer on social. The concept was simple. We’d take pop culture and current affairs’ images and add dialogue #BeerMe bubbles. Think Darth Vadar on May the 4th. We would post these creative online and use the artwork to reply to top Influencers on Twitter, striking up retweets and conversations. All this before Instagram and pre-meme.
How are you a better leader today vs when you first came in?
- I owe a lot to my business partner, Marian. She has taught me a lot of management and business techniques.
What would you do differently if you could do it all over again?
- At the peak of my model agent career and way before I became an Art Director I had 3 job offers; one in New York, one in Greece and the other in Taipei. Instead of going I played it safe, I bought a house in Toronto.
What’s your management style?
- Loose and easy, but when it’s hard, defer to my partner.
What problem do you solve?
- Any that I can.
What is your super power?
- The power of speech and persuasion, like a mix of Don Draper inpso pitches, Fabian Baron art direction swipes with a sprinkle of Bill Gates for bigger thinking.
Who is your nemesis?
What have you learned this year so far that will be game changing in the next year?
- The benefits of becoming a Facebook advertising pro and just how much in-depth training is available to tackle many advertising options. According to Zenith Social Media, ad spends surpassed print in 2019 and will continue to grow.
Tell me about a time when you had to overcome a major obstacle that stood in the way of you accomplishing a goal or commitment. How did you approach the situation?
- At times agency-client relationships just don’t work well, which can get in the way of productivity and results. It happens. You eventually find a way to become amicable, even when going through a professional “divorce” and that’s something we learned to do without burning bridges to absolute ashes.
Do you have a theme song?
- I listen to 9 to 5 by Dolly Parton on my walk to work every morning.
What is the most challenging part of your role? What is your favorite part of what you do?
- The most challenging part of running an agency can be juggling diverse personalities in different positions. I also sometimes struggle with knowing when to floor the gas pedal on a project or just toe it. I’m always caught between going right down the rabbit hole or pivoting to a completely different path.
- I have no middle.
- My favourite part of my work is the people, and the food. Lots of food.
We’re constantly making things better, faster, smarter. We leverage technology or improve processes. In other words, we strive to do more—with less. Tell us about a recent project or problem that you made better, faster, smarter, more efficient, or less expensive.
- We managed to defer from a lot of expensive contract services and costs by finding and utilizing apps ourselves that could produce similar, if not better results. We know our clients the best therefore the more we can delegate amongst ourselves the better we can produce for them.
What is your finish line?
- As a Gen Xer, we were always told growing up that we’d have 3-5 careers, I’m on #3. My last two will involve helping the environment and finishing up as Santa Claus.
If you woke up on a dessert island tomorrow, what are the first 3 things you would do?
- I’d find my water, food and go work on my tan.
What’s your favourite non-professional activity?
- Watching baseball, go Blue Jays!