Campaign Middle East - - NEWS -

I don’t work in ad­ver­tis­ing ( I’m in PR for my sins…) but I’ve started read­ing

be­cause I’m con­tem­plat­ing try­ing to make the switch. But I’m re­ally wor­ried agency suits will not take me se­ri­ously. What can I do to demon­strate I’m a cred­i­ble can­di­date? You’ve not made a good start. You seem to be slightly ashamed of be­ing in PR (“for my sins”); and, any­way, “for my sins” is a cliché. If you ap­proached an ad­ver­tis­ing agency in ex­actly the same way as you’ve ap­proached me, any lurk­ing prej­u­dices they might have about pub­lic re­la­tions peo­ple would be con­firmed. You come across as a bit of a loser: low in con­fi­dence and slightly apolo­getic about be­ing alive.

If any ad agency is to look at you with in­ter­est, they’ll have to be­lieve that you could add to the re­source they can of­fer their clients. And so will you.

And maybe you can. It’s en­tirely pos­si­ble that you have an in­tel­li­gent un­der­stand­ing of how your clients – and specif­i­cally your clients’ CEOs – are seen by their peers, the press and par­lia­men­tar­i­ans. It’s en­tirely pos­si­ble that, while the most se­nior of agency peo­ple are lucky to see a client’s chief mar­ket­ing of­fi­cer three times a year, you have open ac­cess to their CEO. That while agen­cies earn their keep by en­hanc­ing their client’s brands, you’ve been en­trusted with stage-man­ag­ing their AGM, which their chair­man sees as the most im­por­tant man­i­fes­ta­tion of the cor­po­rate brand: the brand that share­hold­ers own, an­a­lysts an­a­lyse, re­cruiters scru­ti­nise, grad­u­ates con­tem­plate, unions challenge, fi­nan­cial ed­i­tors dis­sect and par­lia­men­tary se­lect com­mit­tees sum­mon at the mer­est whiff of mis­de­meanour. If you have a feel­ing for all this, and have the nous and the con­tacts that can help steer cor­po­rate brands safely through the treach­er­ous shal­lows of cap­i­tal­ism, then you have a lot to of­fer.

Agen­cies prob­a­bly think that you spend your time is­su­ing ill-writ­ten press re­leases and pour­ing out prosecco. If this is true, I can’t see why any agency should want to add you to their over­heads. But as a knowl­edge­able guide to the grownup world, not just of mar­ket­ing but of busi­ness, you could be in­valu­able. Our big­gest client is launch­ing a drinks brand in his spare time. He is ask­ing for sig­nif­i­cant time and ef­fort from our agency to come up with a brand and strat­egy for no fi­nan­cial re­ward. He also keeps ask­ing me to in­vest. I see no mar­ket for his as-yet-nonex­is­tent brand – how do I de­cline with­out of­fend­ing him? Dif­fi­cult. The more you re­mind him that he’s abus­ing his po­si­tion and cheat­ing his own com­pany of time and at­ten­tion, the more sanc­ti­mo­nious you’ll sound. And you cer­tainly shouldn’t in­vest – or at least not cash.

But you could turn this into a valu­able agency train­ing ex­er­cise. Tell your client that you’ll hap­pily take this busi­ness on – but on your own terms. You’ll staff the ac­count only with vol­un­teers. Each of those vol­un­teers will be granted an agreed num­ber of phantom shares in the non-ex­is­tent drinks busi­ness, so that they can feel they’re work­ing for them­selves. When­ever there’s a clash of pri­or­i­ties within the agency, pay­ing clients will get prece­dence. Time sheets will be kept, with no­tional costs recorded.

Cre­at­ing a drinks brand is an ex­cel­lent test of an agency group: po­si­tion­ing, nam­ing, la­bel de­sign, pricing, her­itage are dif­fi­cult enough. Get­ting dis­tri­bu­tion will be an un­fa­mil­iar prob­lem for your vol­un­teers – and they’ll be all the wiser for hav­ing en­coun­tered it.

And if the brand be­comes a mod­est suc­cess, those phan­toms will morph into real cer­tifi­cates and your vol­un­teers will be­come share­hold­ers.

Your un­prin­ci­pled client may re­ject this sug­ges­tion ( I hope he doesn’t) but he can hardly be of­fended by it. Be­ware of chats: they don’t ex­ist. Once an agency has de­cided it wants to hire some­one, the ma­chine is turned on. Money, f lat­tery, ti­tles, f lat­tery, MBAs, non-con­trib­u­tory pen­sion schemes and f lat­tery are strewn in your path. You never knew you were so won­der­ful – and you may never be again. Such chats can in­fuse you with deep-seated dis­sat­is­fac­tion for the rest of your work­ing life.

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