A day in the life of Jack McAnespie

To celebrate the recent launch of Searchability Australia, Liam Harvey has brought back his “Day in the life of” blog series to share insights into different roles within the tech digital sector in some of the most exciting brands in Australia. Most recently he caught up with Jack McAnespie, who joined EssenceMediacom Australia in January 2023.

Hi Jack, can you tell us what your role is at EssenceMediacom?

“My role is Experience Lead at EssenceMediacom. I lead the team and operations with respect to all SEO, CRO, on-site content & strategy, UX, and owned media practices. All non-media activation at EssenceMediacom sits within a team of 50 called Creative Futures. I sit on the Creative Futures SLT.”

What kind of skills do you need to be effective in your role as Experience Lead?

There are a number of technical skills related to the speciality / discipline of course, but it’s also really important to have strong team leadership skills, business accumen and commercial awareness to be successful in this field.

What does a typical working day look like for you?

“I won’t lie, a lot of emailing! I spend a lot of my time working on new business responses and client pitches, as well as opportunity prospecting. I Assist the wider the team from a strategic or planning perspective, and spend time focusing on team development.”

What do you LOVE about your job?

“I love coming up with new and exciting ways to solve our client’s business problems. Whether that’s a new approach to an old problem, the utilisation of new and emerging technology, or moving the needle with respect the owned media performance and commercial outcomes. It always feels like a great day when a problem has been solved.”


What SUCKS about your job?

“Timesheets! (Although, I know they’re important. Sorry finance!!).”

What kind of goals do you have? What are the most useful metrics and KPIs for measuring success?

“I used to hate setting goals, mainly because I always set unrealistic, ridiculous goals that I was never going to achieve. I set my goals in yearly cycles, and keep it to 3-4 goals at most. These are generally split 50:50 professional:personal, and they are always interwoven with each other. Work is only a part of life, not all of life, so I try to set my goals in line with that way of thinking. I always ensure that they’re SMART (I didn’t set SMART goals for way too long). All of my goals are also in line with my internal/personal vision. My “why”.”

What are your favourite tools to help you to get the job done?

“The ability to ask the right questions: Think about the world in which your clients operate in (the macro/global forces that impact their industry) and how that impacts their ability to sell or transact. Only then can you ask the right questions that will lead to solving these problems.

BAU digital SEO/audience/competitive tools (think Semrush, Ahrefs, Screaming Frog, etc. etc.): Because they’re unbelievably useful, and can provide insights that you never would be able to reach otherwise.

Reading the news: Read the news, all types, all sources, in all different industries. SMH, Marketing Week, B&T, Fin Review, NY Times. The more you can expose yourself to what is happening in the world around you, the more global context you have, the broader your thinking will be, and the better your ability to respond to problems in unique and exciting ways.”

How did you become an Experience Lead and where might you go from here?

“I’m the first to admit that I’m not the best SEO executionist in the world, and I’m rarely the smartest person in the room. But I love to lead people and challenge convention in the way we think about our client’s problems and the way in which we respond to, and solve, those problems. There are certainly required skills needed in the role (SEO expertise, business, and commercial acumen), but above all, I love working with people, networking, and building relationships. That’s what has propelled me into my position. From here, I’d love to continue in senior leadership positions, broadening my own understanding of this ever-changing industry, and how all of the moving parts come together to provide, ideally, simple but impactful messaging on behalf of our clients.”

What new technology are you most excited about (if any)?

“No points for originality here, but Generative AI is wildly exciting. I don’t know if I’m being naive, or whether I’m just generally positive about this emerging tech, but I’m not at all concerned about Generative AI taking digital marketing jobs. Certainly, our day-to-day output may drastically change with Generative AI in the picture, but that’s exciting! I’m leaning into the potential scale of change. But for now, using this tech in a clever way is automating some of the traditionally more manual tasks we as SEOs have had to conduct (endure), and that’s allowing us as a team to focus on higher-value or more strategic tasks/thinking for our clients.”

How did you get into the SEO space?

“Like lots of SEOs I have within my network, I fell into the world of media after a short (and pretty unsuccessful) stint as a sports journo straight out of uni. Journalism wasn’t the right fit for me, but I was fascinated by marketing and advertising generally and had a couple of friends who worked in the industry. I wanted to try something new, and one of my marketing friends told me about this strange role that had opened up the agency she was working at. The whole industry fascinated me (the stories about the parties also helped), and I was keen to try anything to get a foot in the door with respect to marketing and advertising. I took the job and the rest is history.”

Do you have any advice for people who want to work within a Search & SEO space?

“As for advice, embrace these two facts about media and advertising; 1) change is the only constant, and 2) you’ll never understand it all — it moves too fast — so much like life, accept that you don’t and won’t have all the answers, and don’t pretend to. It’s more human to admit when you don’t know something, and lean right in when you do. Ask questions; be interested and interesting. That will get you a long, long way.”

You can learn more about EssenceMediaCom on their website and LinkedIn.

For future posts be sure to follow Liam Harvey.

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