I recently had the privilege of interning as a Digital Marketing Associate at the International NW200 event through the Martech Laboratory’s Micro-Internship Program designed for students at Ulster University to bridge the gap between theoretical knowledge and practical application, unlocking new horizons in the world of digital marketing.

For me, this rather transformative experience has been nothing short of an incredible adventure; with the vibrant backdrop of Irish culture, it provided me unparalleled exposure to a global audience, great networking opportunities and a deeper insight of the event’s ethos and marketing dynamics. I am positive that this experience has had a profound impact on my professional as well as personal growth.

The International North West 200 is Ireland’s largest outdoor sporting event. With its reputation as one of the most prestigious motorsport events, it attracts enthusiasts from around the world. According to the recent economic impact analysis carried out by Professional Event Solutions, “the direct economic impact attributable to event-specific spectators to the 2022 North West 200 was, £16,022,898. This represents a 63% increase since 2017”.

Areeba Kirmani with Patricia Fernandaz & Cory West, the American husband and wife race team

In my capacity as a Digital Marketing Associate for NW200, I had the opportunity to explore various platforms especially TikTok to strategize ways to engage with a diverse international audience. Using stimulating content, visually stunning imagery, and captivating storytelling we were able to   successfully capture the attention of motorsport enthusiasts worldwide. It is worthwhile to note that over a short span of 8 days we saw a phenomenal increase in the engagement levels with the number of flowers increasing from 116 to 1052 and the number of likes surging by 3423, from a mere 71 to 3494 by the end of the race week.

Progress over the 5 days of applying Content Strategy on TikTok (before and after)

I firmly believe that beyond the thrilling races, NW200 also serves as a window into the vibrant local culture. Our marketing campaigns highlighted the essence of the passionate road-racing spirit showcasing the volunteers, supporters as well as bikers as #NW200Heroes whose relentless efforts made this year’s event possible. Leveraging the power of the #NW200Heroes campaign, we launched an exciting challenge on TikTok to capture the attention and enthusiasm of our audience. We received some brilliant responses reflecting its strong appeal. In addition to this we covered local museums, scenic landscapes, and the spirit of the event, in our attempt to paint a captivating picture of Ireland’s cultural tapestry, fostering a deeper connection between the event and its global audience.

As an intern, I completed a bootcamp for the HubSpot Marketing Certification which also proved to be highly beneficial in.  It laid the foundation of my digital marketing knowledge, equipping me with comprehensive understanding of SEO, content strategy, social media management, and data analytics. Through interactive modules and practical exercises, I gained a deeper understanding of marketing fundamentals and developed a data-driven mindset. I was then able to apply this newfound knowledge and skills in a real-world setting through the NW200 Micro Internship. From optimizing social media presence to crafting engaging content and leveraging data analytics for trend analysis, I (with the help of Principal Investigator. John Bustard) was able to play a vital role in driving an impactful marketing campaign (on TikTok) for one of the most prestigious motorsport events.

I am grateful to Ulster University and to the The Martech Laboratory for giving me this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity offering me an invaluable blend of theoretical knowledge and hands-on experience. This combined experience of the HubSpot Marketing Boot Camp and the NW200 Micro Internship has not only enhanced my technical skills but also sharpened my strategic thinking, creativity, and adaptability. I feel I am better equipped to tackle the ever-evolving challenges of the digital marketing landscape and create a meaningful impact in the world of digital marketing. The digital marketing journey with NW200 has not only provided me with an incredible platform to engage with international audiences but has also deepened my appreciation for the enchanting local culture.

 As an aspiring digital marketeer, I see it as a major milestone on my journey towards a successful career in the field. I would highly recommend all those interested in pursuing a marketing career to utilize this brilliant opportunity and sign-up for the Micro-Internships and any upcoming HubSpot certification Bootcamps. Go for it guys!

Cathal Cunning (Volunteer Coordinator – 1st left) Areeba Kirmani (second left) and Dr John Bustard (right) with key volunteers at NW200

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