Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Advertising career hacks.

Come December (if we make it that long) I’ll begin my 35th year of being paid by an ad agency. Here are some things I’ve learned along the way that just might have made it possible for me to last that long.

Advertising career hacks we can call them.

1. Always ask for definition and for an example. For instance, when someone spouts a cliché, an homily, or uses a word or phrase you don’t understand, question it. Say “what does that mean?” Or “could you show me the data on that.” While at a digital agency, I remember at least 97 egg-headed new media people telling me that the only thing that mattered to a brand was “Facebook likes.” I said, “tell me one brand that was built that way.” Doing this won’t make you popular in the least. But it could help keep you sane.
2.Never boast about how late you worked. There are a lot of people who are quick to let you know they worked till one in the morning or all weekend long. So what? All they’ve proven is that they have no internal governor and don’t know how to say, “I’ve done my job.” Keep your blood, sweat, toil and tears to yourself. And go home when you’re tired. PS. Nobody has much more than six or eight really productive hours in them. If you’re staying till the sun rises, it’s probably because you hate going home.
3. Do it two ways. I’ve always been staggered about the huge difference between doing the assignment and doing the job. People who create assignments usually make things small and limited and tactical. The job that needs doing is larger than that. Do what you’re told. Then give yourself permission to show something bigger, bolder and better.
4. Never use the word ‘journey.’ Or any other word or phrase that everyone else uses. If you pay attention to the amount of clichéd and meaningless language used in most discussions and most meetings, you’ll realize there’s little creativity in advertising and even less honesty. Be different.
5.Raise your hand. The best way to make a name for yourself and to be valued at an agency is to volunteer for work. And to do that work well. When you can do the jobs no one else can, you become a go-to person.
6. Keep records. Write down everything you do that is above and beyond. Make a folder of every complimentary email you’ve received from co-workers and clients. Eventually you will get into hot water and it’s good to have proof of who you are and what you’ve done. It won't keep you from being fired, but it's nice to remind yourself how good you are.
7. Have a good headhunter. Your first five, maybe ten years in the business, headhunters help you find jobs. Once you’ve developed a significant network for yourself, headhunters become more valuable as career guidance counselors. They know what others are earning, who’s doing what in the industry and can independently assess the quality of your work.
8. Become a “Now-ist.” I’ve seen about 99% of people in agencies talk about how over-burdened they are and how much they have to do. An hour later, they’re still flapping their gums. Or they’re out getting coffee. Or something. I’ve always found that it’s better to keep a short list of tasks that need doing and just do them, one at a time. Give yourself a stern and unyielding deadline, “I’ll have that manifesto written by four.” “I’ll write three campaigns before I go home tonight.” Mostly, do it now. And you’ll get it done.
9. Make changes. It’s not unusual for a bit of creative to go through 17, or 30 or 91 rounds of changes. Many of those changes are excruciating and pointless. But they give you another whack at improving what you’d previously created. When you make one small change, look at the whole piece instead and make the whole thing better. As Steve Hayden once told me, “The best revenge is a better ad.”
10.Don’t snack when there’s free food about. It’s the best way to add advertising avoirdupois, that is, ten or a dozen “meeting pounds” you’d be better off without. Also avoid vending machines, snacks 12-99 at the editor’s, craft tables and crappy agency sandwiches with cheese roughly the color of magma.
11.Write your name on your things. I’ve had hundreds of advertising books stolen from me. It gets annoying. Writing your name on things will at least force the thieves to use a little ingenuity.
12.When there’s a memo announcing a promotion, congratulate the person promoted. Send a note directly to them. Not to everyone on the cc-list. Write something personal and meaningful. You don’t need to tell the world you’re congratulating someone, just that person. Do it within minutes.
13.Send a memo announcing a new person the morning that new person starts. It lets everyone know their name, and it makes the new person feel special and valued. What’s more, it’s polite.
14.Never on Monday. Don’t come back from vacations on Monday. Come back on a Tuesday or even a Wednesday if possible. The extra day will do you good. You could beat the weekend traffic. And you’ll return to a short week at work.
15.Do something every day. If you’re a writer, read something well-written, or write something daily. In other words don’t stint on practicing your craft. Don’t skip a day. Try to always improve.
16.Stay in touch. The great Sally Hogshead, a singularly wise person in our business once told me, you have three things you can count on. 1) Your work. 2) Your reputation. 3) Your network. Work hard, very hard, on all three.
17.Try to find time for young people. Not only can they teach you things you don't know, they'll also be in the position to hire you someday. So be kind.

No comments: