Iliyana Stareva: Living and breathing inbound marketing and PR

Discover how Iliyana's experience at Plymouth led to her developing a passion for PR and inbound marketing and the publication of her new book

Iliyana Stareva

BA (Hons) International Business graduate | 5 minute read | Follow

“If you're persistent enough, and you keep going regardless of how hard or time-consuming it is, your work will be rewarded. Nothing is impossible, so vigorously follow your dreams and passions.”

Gaining experience, finding a focus


Even before graduation, I was already undertaking multiple social media internships in digital consultancies in Germany and in the UK – one was with Plymouth’s Bluestone360. When I graduated, I had to stay in Germany because I couldn’t get a work permit for the UK, as a Bulgarian back then, but it led to me being appointed to the role of a social media account manager at a PR consultancy in Dusseldorf, where I handled the brands of one of the world’s largest FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods) companies. 

A year and three months after that HubSpot found me on LinkedIn and made me the most amazing job offer. I just couldn’t resist, so I moved to Dublin in late November 2014 to join them.

It was then I experienced probably the craziest, most exciting, and also most stressful, but in a good way, month of my life – one moment I was still working in Dusseldorf, while simultaneously packing my stuff for my move to Dublin, the next I was flying to Boston for my two-week induction training, before returning to Dublin to start my new role. 

In this, what became my first role with HubSpot, I was able to focus on the social media and PR skills I had previously developed – two elements that did not really feature during my time studying at university – where I was able to work with our partner agencies and advise them on their business and marketing strategies – elements which were extensively covered during my time at Plymouth.

I remember a guest lecture for Hugh Conway’s marketing class back in Plymouth, held by Giles Hutchins – it was called 'The Firm of The Future'. It was his talk that for the first time really opened my eyes about the challenges we and our planet are facing and that the current business paradigm is unsustainable. My interest in sustainability grew from that moment and directed my future research in the field, resulting in a second dissertation about sustainability that was later published as a book.

The pathway to publication


I have now progressed within HubSpot to become Global Partner Program Manager. During my time with the company I was able to find a link between my previous work focus in PR and my new one in inbound marketing, which built upon my experience specialising in marketing in Plymouth in 2011. 

This was also the year I launched my blog as an experiment to improve my writing and share my learning. Little did I know that a short few years after that I'd find myself publishing a book about PR and inbound marketing with Wiley – one of the biggest academic publishers in the world and certainly my dream publishing house that works with my favourite authors.

Inbound PR: The PR Agency's Manual to Transforming Your Business With Inbound by Iliyana Stareva, published by Wiley, 2018

I started blogging about what I called Inbound PR and people started responding positively to the concept. I was invited to speak at events and my ideas spread. A mentor of mine then inspired me to write a book about Inbound PR and I took on that challenge not expecting that from a single pitch of my manuscript, I would begin working with Wiley.

This goes to show that if you're persistent enough, and you keep going regardless of how hard or time-consuming it is, your work will be rewarded. Nothing is impossible, so vigorously follow your dreams and passions. I never thought this would come true and especially not at the age of 28. If I think about the past and what led to this book, it really comes down to two things: passion and hard work.

Find out what you are passionate about and make that your career, or at least part of your career path. This will ensure you actually enjoy what you are doing, that it is not just a job, but a fulfilling and inspiring career, so that when you wake up you go to the office motivated to achieve more.

Never stop learning and get some experience early on. That doesn’t necessarily mean work experience, but also learning on your own for example by creating your own blog and establishing your social media presence. Become your own brand in the online space.

– Iliyana is now Global Partner Program Manager at HubSpot in Dublin, Ireland.

Follow in Iliyana's footsteps at Plymouth

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