Graduate Gemma Hirst is helping a North East family bakery promote its unique printed cakes to big brands across the UK.
Struggling to find a suitable role in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic, Gemma, a Journalism graduate, managed to land a three-month internship with Print Cakes, supporting the business with her skills in digital marketing.
The internship was organised through Creative Fuse North East, a project unlocking the potential of the creative, digital and tech sectors to drive innovation and growth of the region’s economy.
Gemma, 26, said: “I felt as though my job search was not going to plan, so it was great to know that after University there was still support out there for me as a graduate.”
Print Cakes is a Sunderland-based family bakery delivering treats to brands across the country.
Their focus is on quality ingredients and a finish which reflects the brands that they work with.
During the pandemic, Gemma had to adapt to the restrictions and take on the responsibility of representing and creating digital content of another brand on their business social media accounts from her Northumberland home.
She communicated regularly with Print Cakes Director, Helena Harford, and Creative Fuse, to make sure the content that she was creating was on brand.
Being a Journalism Graduate, she was also able to create and edit content for the Print Cakes product pages and blogs from the website.
The festive period was an especially busy time for the business and Gemma was able to use social media to promote their product.
Using Instagram, she turned their grid into an advent calendar and each day would showcase a festive product that customers could buy.
Gemma added: “I really didn’t think that a social media advent calendar could work, as I didn’t know how I was going to do it, but I still managed to achieve and complete my idea.”
Helena Harford said: “Gemma has been an amazing addition to our business through the Creative Fuse programme.
“She brought fresh ideas to our social media accounts, as well as around our product offering and general marketing.
“Gemma was enthusiastic, hard-working and proactive, which meant we knew our social media channels were in safe hands.
“She has grown our following, increased engagement and ensured that we are posting regular, updates.
“This was especially important to us over the Christmas period when we were very busy with orders and would have otherwise struggled to maintain a presence.”
Valentine’s Day was the next big calendar event that Print Cakes had to take on.
Creating Mood Boards and competitor research, Gemma was able to work with Print Cakes on promoting their new Valentine’s range.
Gemma used digital platforms to create and schedule the content for Print Cakes, improve the look and the type of content that the business had not done before.
Although Gemma finishes her Internship this month, she will continue to work with Print Cakes.
Gemma’s experience highlights the impact Sunderland graduates have in the commercial sector as well as shining a light on the role of Creative Fuse, which is delivered through a unique partnership between the North East’s five universities – Newcastle, Durham, Northumbria, Teesside and Sunderland.
Academics work alongside industry, cultural organisations, charities and the public sector, to explore how creative, digital and IT firms can have a sustainable future in the region adding value to the region’s broader employment base.
Associate Professor in Cultural Management at the University of Sunderland, Derek Watson, said: “Despite the challenges of Covid-19, the Creative Fuse programme demonstrates that our graduate virtual placements make commercial impacts.
“Gemma’s contribution in enhancing Print Cakes digital strategy has transformed into real business growth and revenue streams.
“It has been a privilege in mentoring Gemma on placement and I have seen first-hand how she has utilised the knowledge and skills from her degree, to make a tangible contribution to Print Cakes and reflects how our University faculties collaborate in providing bespoke support for businesses via our graduate skill sets.”
Professor of Computer Science, Lynne Hall, added: “The Creative Fuse team are now supporting a number of companies to innovate and grow their businesses with funded internships or by directly embracing the skills of University of Sunderland faculty staff.
“Our project thrives at the intersection of commerce, creativity and computing lending itself to develop both our local economy and the employability of our graduates.”
About Creative Fuse
Creative Fuse North East is a multi-disciplinary, multi stakeholder action research project focused on the strength, diversity and nuanced nature of the North East’s creative, digital and IT sector (CDIT).
The project builds upon two previous AHRC funded research projects – Brighton Fuse and London Fusion and will further explore the social, economic and innovation value of the CDIT sector in the region.
Alongside the AHRC, Arts Council England and European Regional Development Funds are being used to support direct engagement with creatives freelancers and SMEs in the sector, providing a unique insight into the everyday challenges while at the same time identifying opportunities for cross sector collaboration and spill-over into other industries.
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