Posted 12 December 2016.
Advertising is a demanding, rigorous business and its people are smart, tough and decisive. They work very hard at what they do, which, fundamentally, is to help solve a client’s business problem. This is achieved through effective communication, targeted through the right channels for the intended audience.
If you are seriously considering a career in this exciting industry then it helps to match your interests and skills with those required for the various roles available. It also pays to do your homework - read industry publications as often as you can and get to know the key sectors of the business. You will need qualifications but sometimes sheer imagination also works.
The three main job functions within advertising are account management, media and creative.
Comms Council Graduate placements are primarily focussed on account management and media roles as creative is a specialisation with its own requirements that are quite different. Please contact us if a creative role is what you are looking for and you feel you are qualified for it. Please click here to view the application process.
Account Management (Suits)
Account managers represent the client at the agency and the agency at the client organisation. Account managers should know everything about the client’s business and its key competitors. They should share this intelligence with the agency team and build strong internal relationships to ensure work is completed to the highest possible standard, on time and against budget.
You’ll more than likely start as an Account Executive before working your way up to Account Manager then on to Account Director.
Account Executives coordinate the day-to-day activities of the agency on behalf of a client’s product or service. They are responsible for preparation of “work-start” orders (based on client briefs) and the timely completion of assignments. You’ll also be expected to present and gain acceptance for work created and produced by the agency under the direction of the Account Director.
Internal administration duties include trafficking and studio liaison of advertisements, briefing creative on projects and follow-up, as well as general quoting of jobs. The account management team are responsible for maintaining control over all internal activity on projects.
Account Executives are highly organised with an acute attention to detail. They are team players and must be outstanding communicators who combine creative problem-solving with sensible decision-making.
Whether in a full-service or specialist agency, media plays a pivotal role in advertising. Media planners, buyers and researchers make the client’s investment in advertising count by making sure the advertising is seen by the right people at the right time. They find the right viewers, listeners and readers - the ‘target audience’ - that might be receptive to the client’s message and develop a cost-effective plan for reaching them. Then they negotiate deals with the media of choice for efficient delivery of advertising messages.
You’ll begin as a Media Assistant responsible for the preparation of budgets and estimates, conducting media analysis work of a statistical nature, and taking primary responsibility for day-to-day media administration functions.
From here you’ll work your way up to either planning or buying, depending on your personal skill sets:
Media planners apply their knowledge of media markets to develop media plans, specifying which media the client should purchase to reach their desired target audience with their message. They recommend not only the appropriate mix of media but an advertising period and frequency that will get the message out while accommodating the client’s budget.
Media buyers turn the approved media plan into reality. They reserve or ‘book’ the appropriate space and time and, in many cases, negotiate the most favourable rate based partly on estimates of how many people in the target audience the medium is expected to reach. They also monitor media to ensure that the advertising actually appears when and where it is supposed to and, with some media, that the audience is as large as anticipated.
Creatives usually come in teams – an art director and a copywriter. In the conceptual phase, they both generate verbal and visual ideas until they hatch a concept they want to develop further. Then their roles become more defined, the copywriter works on the words and the art director on the images. Both have a genuine feel for each other’s work.
Art Directors conceive of a visual direction that not only expresses the qualities of a product or service, but appeals to the right audience and makes efficient, effective use of a short period of time, or a small space.
Copywriters must be focused communicators, since most copy has to be brief. Good copywriting demands discipline.
Both art directors and copywriters have to be constantly aware of popular culture, its shifts and nuances. They both feed off it and contribute to it with their own work. They literally must speak the language of the consumer, whether it’s a parent buying a baby stroller or a kid buying a skateboard.
You will need to have a ‘book’ of your creative work to date to show prospective agencies.
In addition to these key disciplines, advertising also encompasses the following roles:
Display, Search, Email, Mobile, Social Media – opportunities in the digital marketing field are exploding at present. Digital marketing requires account service, media, production and creative people, although the line between these traditional roles is often blurred in digital mediums. Additional opportunities exist in design, data management and computer programming.
PR professionals work with clients to develop public relations strategies and manage the day-to-day activities necessary to ensure completion of communications initiatives.
Key responsibilities include writing press releases and other promotional materials, pitching stories to the media, fielding media calls and monitoring press coverage; also planning special events, such as analyst tours, press conferences and media briefings.
At the entry level, Public Relations coordinators/executives write and proofread promotional materials, conduct research and assist with media outreach. They often maintain media databases and develop and track editorial calendars.
PR professionals require excellent written and verbal communication skills and attention to detail.
Experiential marketing is about interacting in person and bringing the brand alive. This form of marketing creates personally relevant, memorable and emotional connections between brands and consumers out in the world where things happen, connections that lead to increased sales and brand loyalty.
Campaign coordinators work within a team to produce and execute creative experiential marketing solutions, including brand experiences, brand launches and event marketing.
They assist in developing event logistics solutions, producing time lines, liaising with suppliers and coordinating staffing requirements for a team of people in the agency. They coordinate multiple projects and juggle many balls at once for multiple people so great organisational and communication skills are essential.
Great people skills are essential, as is an acute attention to detail and the need to be highly process driven.
Sponsorship and events are closely linked to experiential marketing as they are focused on forging connections with consumers by personal interaction.
The events team develops an event strategy that delivers business objectives then manages, organises and oversees the function or promotional event from end to end.
Key responsibilities include creative input, sourcing and managing external service providers, sourcing venues, guest speakers and entertainment, organising agendas, guest and invitee lists and invitations.
Strong project management skills and the ability to work within budgetary constraints are essential.
Production is where the ads are put together, either in-house at larger agencies or externally at stand alone production companies. The major production areas are TV, radio, print and digital. The production team forever has its eye on deadlines while haggling with printers for the best deals or coordinating talent and camera operators for a commercial shoot.
It’s a highly organised, fast-paced environment suitable for those who have an eye for detail and can work to tight deadlines.
Getting your foot in the door
Get out of the house and beat the streets - sell yourself. But first, study the communications market in all its diversity, read the trade publications which interest you closely so that if questioned at interview stage, you can display an informed acquaintance with the industry.
Build profiles of agencies you admire, their client list and work. If possible, get as much experience as you can.
If you’re graduating in the next 12 months, consider applying for our Comms Council Graduate Programme.