In this week’s blog, Levy McCallum account executive Kirsty Macmillan gives the inside scoop on the transition from marketing student to advertising professional.
Well first things first, you actually have to get out of bed!
Being used to traipsing into uni for about 2 hours a day, 3 days a week, it can be a bit of a shock to the system when you realise you will have to get up way before lunchtime for 5 out of 7 days of the week for the foreseeable future!
When I was leaving uni I took a while trying to decide what industry I wanted to do marketing in, I quite liked the idea of food/drink and anything internet-related. After my exams Levy McCallum got in touch to say that they had a job available starting as soon as possible, so, of course I jumped at the chance. I started soon after that as an account assistant. I was given training for a couple of weeks to help me learn all that was involved in my job and given a list of clients who I would be working with. The best thing about doing this role in an advertising agency is that you get a wide mix of accounts. You can be given anything including car dealerships, whisky retailers, clothes retailers, shopping centres, radio shows, furniture stores, jewellery stores and everything else! You really do get the chance to work on anything and everything. All of these accounts have a different mix of requirements. Some use more traditional media whereas others use a mix of other types.
There are a lot of press ads, digital ads, TV commercials, radio, social media and website work. Some use outdoor artwork such as posters, banners, bus-liners etc. Starting work here, there was always a challenge for me. I had never had to organise the booking and production of advertising before apart from observing and helping out while on placement the year before. Starting just before the summer also meant that there were a lot of jobs on the go constantly. It was pretty hectic! I had to learn about were things like different types and weights of paper/printing materials, opening jobs, memorising paper sizes… things that had never crossed my mind before.
One of the most time-consuming jobs in this role is chasing other people. I constantly have to check with the creative department when they will be doing artwork, the web developers when web amends or websites will be completed and then continually feed back to the client. I have to manage all aspects of a job from beginning to end and keep on top of everything. Once a job has been completed, I then have to check over all that was done to ensure that nothing has been missed and there are no mistakes. That again is very time-consuming. I have to make sure that everything is checked thoroughly, sometimes checking over artwork multiple times to be sure. Even checking items took some learning when I began, especially for my car clients. Having always been a typical girl who doesn’t know car models and makes very well, it was new to me to figure out which way cars are displayed. Dates and days are another one that can catch you out easily! Even if copy has come through from a client it is always a good idea to check dates and days against one another on a calendar as there are some instances where they will not match up. Very necessary to do before going to print!
Doing my first TV job, I learned that there was more to go. I had no idea about the process of clearance or what a clock number was. A great thing about Levy McCallum was that there was always someone around who I could ask for help who would take me through everything.
After working here for around 8 months I would say I became pretty familiar with everything and stopped annoying everyone by asking questions every 5 minutes! Even so, there are still things that crop up after a year such as clients looking to source a specific type of advertising. For example, options to cover hoarding around a building site.
What I have found to be most important in this industry are the clients. Working well with your clients is the key to success. It was interesting for me to start work here with such a wide range as I got to see the difference in their advertising methods and what was available for each industry. Every client is different in their identity, manner and advertising methods and learning how to organise and work efficiently with each individually is what is important. Some clients stick to internet/social media whereas others lean towards radio and TV. There is always a new form of advertising to use whether it is ad-bikes, hoarding panels or advertising in airports.
The main difference that I have found from leaving uni is that uni prepares you with the knowledge or strategy and marketing communications but there are the more menial things which you don’t learn such as the process of producing and booking TV commercials, deciding which material is best for printing a leaflet and the length/requirements of building and setting a website live. These are all things which I have now learned and have made me much more involved and made to feel more a part of this industry.
If you want the short version… I’m basically in Mad Men now!