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It seems there is constant talk in our industry about how you get further in media from learning on the job than you could ever learn at university or other forms of tertiary education. However I think this is probably true for most professional industries. For me, the difference in media is that you can use your own passion points and things you notice in everyday life to improve your media knowledge.
Sit at home and watch TV? Guess what, you are researching. Drive to the airport? You are automatically on a billboard site tour. Check the news while at your desk at work? You are modeling almost all office consumers out there. Go to the Cinema? You guessed it! Even as I sit here and write this blog an annoying YouTube ad has just played interrupting my music playlist.
We are very often the consumers we are trying to understand. Yes, we might all take more notice of billboards than anyone else or lamely point out our brand’s TV ads to our friends but you get my point. Apart from the need to factor in the bias of being a media nerd, knowledge is being built every time we walk down the street or slump in front of the TV to play on the iPad.
Since starting in media just shy of three years ago, I have worked with a diverse range of people. The one common trait I’ve noticed successful media people have is that they all have the ability to apply strong general knowledge and an understanding of everyday life to their work.
I believe young starters to the industry often don’t use this to their advantage enough. If you love sport, make sure you are the go to guy when someone wants to do sports negotiation, even if you are a media exec. If you love watching Big Brother what’s to stop you sending around an insight to your team discussing how you think this week will be a huge ratings success because the favourite contestant is up for eviction.
There are a few examples where I have used my past and passions to help me out in my job. The most obvious example of this is where I grew up. I grew up in a small country town on the South Coast of NSW called Moruya. I was forced into understanding the ins and outs of regional TV. Who knew having to watch a WIN news story on the Thirroul Primary School Fete would eventually help me at work. This understanding came in very handy when I got handed the Federal Government as my first client. Being a sports watcher also has its advantage. For example, I know it’s probably not wise to buy TV spots on the fifth day of a cricket test match between Australia and New Zealand.
Knowledge that can help our day-to-day jobs is spattered everywhere across each agency. I am not a movie buff; in fact I suck at movie trivia. I honestly don’t know the difference between Colin Farrell and Colin Firth so you can bet your bottom dollar if I was heading into a cinema negotiation I would be asking the new media trainee that goes to the cinema every second weekend for their help. My hint to all new starters is to play to your strengths. Use them as your competitive advantage.
Even with the wealth of media buying tools out there I always tell new buyers that often, Google can be the most useful tool out there.
"Nice idea. Lot of money blown if it clouds over, though."
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DDB fundamentally changed their client's position in the market..."
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"Nice, but the moon is out of scale to the bottle. Or vice versa."
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