Saturday, 8 February 2014

VACANCY: Account Manager & Designer

My lovely little agency are looking to hire an account manager to support on a number of our retail accounts. This would be a great opportunity for an Account Manager or a confident Account Exec to take join us and make their mark in a small team of hardworking but fun-loving agency peeps.

We are also looking for a mid-weight graphic designer with great all-round design skills to come work on both digital and print designs for our clients. Ability to artwork is a must and if you can code that would be awesome but it's not essential. The most important thing is your personality, we're looking for someone who's willing to get stuck in to work and also play!

If you're interested or know of anyone who is just drop me an email at and I can send you more info!

Look forward to hearing from you! xx

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Class of Initials 2014 open for applications!

Class of INITIALS is a work experience programme for graduates looking to enter the exciting world of agency marketing.

INITIALS Marketing is a creative communications agency with a fantastic culture. Spanning multiple disciplines, from shopper to digital, promotional to direct, design to experiential, the world of INITIALS is fast-paced and always fun!

INITIALS hold a very special place in my heart - not only did I start my agency career there through a work experience placement in 2011 (before the official Class of Initials initiative was born), it was there that I worked my first position as an Account Exec. 

I worked on the experiential team at INITIALS for five months in 2012. I learnt a huge amount and was able to get involved in some amazing national-scale projects. It's why I'm so excited to share the Class of INITIALS 2014 with you - through it you have the same opportunity that I had to bag your dream marketing job! 

So what's the deal? 5 graduates will be selected via a challenging (but fun!) recruitment process to carry out a four week work placement between July and September 2014. For the right graduate there could be a job at the end!

Applications are being accepted via the INITIALS Facebook page, where you can also find out a few more details about the company and some great past work, as well as what's on offer. Please don't hesitate to comment/contact me if you have any questions! 

Good luck!

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

More reasons why a non industry degree is useful in advertising

As if we need any more!

As you know, this blog exists to bridge the gap between the advertising industry (specifically agencies) and those who don't possess an industry degree. A lot of it has focused on account handling, as that is the function I myself was aiming for and later landed in. So it's high time we focused on the lesser well known side of agency life - Planning.

In a nutshell, Planners exist to shed light on consumer insights that will help inform the advertising devised by the creative teams. Whereas account handling and creative teams are standard in all types of agency, Planners can mostly be found in the larger agencies.

My impression is that Planning is quite hard to get into, more difficult than any other agency role. I think this is mainly because the roles are much less common and therefore it follows that the competition is fiercer. With competition for graduate jobs increasing all the time I think it's a great role to look at from a Jos Can point of view.

What qualities do employers look for in Planners? Do academically-trained graduates have a hope? These questions and more were answered by Chris Kneebone of Kitcatt Nohr Digitas in his great post on The IPA's Admission blog:

Worried your degree subject will stop you finding a job in advertising?

Thankfully for us non-industry graduates, the answer to this is a resounding "Don't be!"

Chris gives us an insight into what his job requires of him and makes a compelling argument as to why his History degree in fact has armed him with just the right skills to be good at working in advertising.

I'll always remember something a Creative Director said to me on one of my internships, which was

" With all of these advertising graduates emerging from unis having had the same teaching and exposure, what can they add that is different to hundreds of their peers?"

Although anyone (including the man himself) knows that graduates of the same course are far from clones of each other, it did make me think more about the potential merits of having done something different.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Day In The Life

Hey guys!

 In my last post I promised you an account of a day in my life working in an integrated agency as an Account Exec, so here it is. Every day is so different in my job so bear in mind that my duties do extend to outside of what you read here, but hopefully you’ll find this post helpful if you’re thinking of getting into agency account handling.

I also hope it will show that it is very possible to be good at this job without a degree background in marketing. Obviously I myself haven’t had that educational exposure so I would be really interested to hear from others who have who really feel they directly reap the benefit of their degree in their agency role.

As always, if you have any questions or comments please feel free to ask them by commenting or by contacting me using the details on the Contact Me tab above.

Day in the life.

My day starts at 9am, where I take a seat at my desk and check my emails. My main client is a shopping centre and we do all of  their creative comms, from in-centre posters and hoardings, to press, radio, events and social and digital – whatever works best for the campaign we’ve devised. I work on the account with a Senior Account Director, and whilst she handles a lot of the main client liaison, budget tracking and more high responsibility stuff, I manage most of the deliverables, working with our internal studio to produce the ads for the centre.

I start today by liaising with our contact for all things print, as we need to replace the posters in centre with our Valentine’s creative. I send an email requesting a quote for the print order, then follow that up with an estimate to the client so they can sign off this cost. The posters have been designed and signed off internally as well as by the client the previous week, so all that remains is for the posters to be artworked – made print-ready. I mail the file over to our artworker and pop over to ask him if he’ll be able to see to it by the end of the day.

Next on my To Do list is to write a design brief. This contains all the details that the designer needs to create an ad, including info such as the relevant branding and colour scheme, what imagery and copy to include, the dimensions etc. We need to design a press ad to advertise a new retailer who is opening in the shopping centre, so once I’ve written up the brief I talk it over with a designer, and when I’ve made sure they are clear on what needs to be done I head back to my desk.

One of the primary target demographics for the shopping centre account is 18-24 year olds, and as such we plan a lot of activity on our social media pages. These are managed by a Marketing Assistant at the shopping centre. Having come up with the concept and strategy for a Valentine’s campaign in a brainstorm the day before, I now write this up as a brief to send over to the Marketing Assistant. As a shopping centre, the retailers obviously play a key part in our marketing and this campaign is no exception, so this brief is vital for the Marketing Assistant so that she can liaise with relevant retailers and pull together the right content for the social campaign.

Another job for today is deployment of an email, which will be sent out to our database of around 6,000 people. Having already overseen the design of the email, it has now got to be coded (thankfully not by me) and tested before it’s sent. Before I pop out for lunch I check that our html-savvy designer is still ok to finish coding and testing the email that afternoon as we’d discussed the day before.

I usually eat at my desk – one because it’s good to be there in case someone, the client or a designer who’s working on something for you, has a question or needs something, and two because there’s really not many places to eat around my office..!

After I’ve eaten the designer who’s been working on my email comes over to let me know that it’s ready to be tested, so I go and join him at his desk so I can oversee how it has come out and ensure that all the click through links are correct. Once I’m happy we click Send and away it goes! After a few days I’ll check back on the results and compile a report to send over to the client, comprising the open and click through rates and how these compare to previous emails and the average industry standards.

By this time it’s getting on in the afternoon and I check back with all the work I’ve got going on in the studio – the press ads and the artworking. I print a copy of the press ad to show our creative director so that he can sign it off before I send it to the client for their approval. The posters have been artworked so I can send them to the printer along with their PO from us.  

That’s it for studio work today, which means I have a couple of hours to sit at my desk undisturbed to get to a couple of larger tasks. One is a management report for the client that details all the work we have delivered in the previous month; for this I need to go back through our folders and take screen shots of all ad creative as well as compile results such as email open and click through rates, entries to any competitions we have run, and analytics of both Facebook and the website. This is a big job that usually takes a day or two to complete but I dedicate a few hours to it and then send it to my line manager; we’ll go through it in the morning to make sure I’ve included everything I need to.

By now it’s about 6pm. I fill in my timesheet for the day and head out the door to the pub! :-)

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Unemployment is over!

Big apologies for my silence recently everyone (I know you’ve missed me) - I’m back and ready and raring to blog.

The past few months have been a time of unemployment for me – not altogether an unenjoyable period in my life (lie-ins never get dull), but definitely a time of doubts, fears, and questions. After five months as an exec in a great agency which gave me the chance I needed to learn my chosen trade, I seemed to be in a good position. However, my job hunt was still without its challenges. I wasn’t searching for my first position – I had three relevant internships under my belt, not to mention the good half a year I’d spent in a full time agency role – but having worked primarily in experiential, to some potential employers I wasn’t experienced enough to enter as an Account Exec working with other channels. Which leads me to my other problem, which was that I wasn’t quite sure what disciplines I wanted to work in, having not had exposure to them all.

My experiences of the workplace had, however, opened my mind to other important considerations when job hunting. I knew that a well-matched culture was important to me. And now I was on the first rung of the career ladder I felt that I didn’t have to go to every interview nervous and desperate to impress, because I was fully aware that I was making an important and career-defining choice and could afford to be more picky. This certainly helped me in interviews and I viewed it as more of a two-way process, with me trying to find out as much as I could about the company, people and culture so that I could make a decision for myself. That way I also didn’t count many rejections as failures and get disheartened, because some that I went to just weren’t right.

I think when you’re just starting out it’s better to go for whatever you can get; back then I was certainly in the habit of convincing myself that I would love whatever it was I was going for. And that really helped me, for even if it turned out whatever I was doing wasn’t for me, that experience was still valuable and it has put me in a better position in the long-term.

Next post – a day in the life! I’ll be taking you through my experiences as an Account Exec at my new integrated agency.

Monday, 9 July 2012

The Graduate Without A Future

Whilst browsing Facebook last Wednesday I noticed a trending videos called ‘A 2.1 just won’t cut it any more’. Well, you have to have been living under a rock for the past three years to have missed that, so not exactly a hugely intriguing revelation. Everyone knows that there are exactly 3.5 trillion other graduates out there to compete against for employment, and that you must complete 49 unpaid internships in order to qualify to fill out a job application form. But I clicked through anyway, curious to see another perspective on this issue which is affecting myself as well as thousands of other young career contenders, hopeful for some constructive advice in the very least.

It turned out that the video was published on The Guardian website, as part of their newly established Comment Is Free online series called ‘The Graduate Without A Future’. Cheery, no? I settled down, readying myself for some quality journalism, as one would expect from the Guardian (no sarcasm). Instead, I was treated to a lamentation of the ‘futureless’ graduates of 2012 – seven and a half minutes of completely useless despair and melodrama. 

 One of the main features of the report was the stories of two 2012 graduates from Sussex university. Neither were asked very much about their individual career goals, so instead of an interesting and relevant interview focused on what jobs they were looking to pursue and how they were going to go about obtaining them, their portrayal focused largely around their ‘ambition’ to avoid ending up in a “mindless sales job”.  In line with the video’s title, they also talked about how throughout their time at uni they had made conscious efforts to get involved with extra-curricular activities. As students and recent graduates, I think we’re all probably quite familiar with the notion of enhancing your CV with activities and societies as well as work experience, and this is really important for graduates like myself who have traditional academic degrees. Take the rise in degrees with placement years; this is a significant sign of the increase in employers’ expectations for graduates coming straight out of uni. The presenter, a Guardian writer called John Harris, seemed outraged at the thought of these girls doing anything with their three years but studying. The fact is, that involvement in these extras is now part and parcel of the personal development we’re expected to undertake at uni, and complaining about it will get us nowhere. One of the grads, India, told us how left her small hometown in Essex in order to pursue better things; surely this involves making the most of the opportunities on offer in a big city like Brighton? Harris may mourn the new necessity of diverting your attention from your studies to prepare for post graduate life before you’ve even secured your degree, and I agree that your priority should be studying, but as the other grad, Chrissy, rightly pointed out, if she hadn’t been trying to get involved with other things, “What would I have done for three years, just mucked around and got a degree?” It is true, a degree alone is not enough any more. But instead of lamenting this, should we not celebrate all the extra skills we will develop as a result of involvement in extra-curricular projects?

The second half of the video featured a visit to the Graduate Recruitment Bureau, a recruitment consultancy specialising in graduate recruitment which is based in Brighton (the setting for this happy tale). Dan Hawes, the founder of the company and actually someone who was kind enough to agree to be interviewed for this blog a few months ago, was interviewed by Harris, giving his perspective on the importance of rivalling the competition from fellow grads by supplementing your degree with extra experience.

In his interview, Dan explained how the GRB typically works to recruit STEM graduates for its clients (that’s those who’ve studied Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) – no crime for a company to have a specialism. However, the report managed to twist even this seemingly innocent admission into a negative. As they entered the GRB office,  Harris’ voiceover uttered this sombre statement: “If you study humanities, the kind of jobs open to you may well come down to working at a place like this. As well as debasing the value of humanities degrees, Harris also managed to insult the company who had just given him a relevant and constructive interview. Nice.

My annoyance with the angle of this report peaked at the mention of student loan debt. Erm…why did how much debt these girls have need to be discussed? It seemed that this was mentioned simply to further demonise the situation of these ‘graduates with no future’. Student loan repayments are no more of a detriment to a graduate’s bank balance than they would be if the job market was hunky dory, because repayments are relative to earnings. The hyperbole of the presenter raising the subject of debt and portraying it as a distressing issue spoke volumes for the type of messaging that the report is attempting to convey. But then again, what is media without a little bit of hype? …Even if that hype can only amount to the fact that the entry phone system at the Graduate Recruitment Bureau doesn’t work...SO WHAT?!

You can watch the video below. Do you agree with me?

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

My interview with the IPA

You may have heard of Gradvantage, a blog run by graduates at the IPA (Institute of Practitioners in Advertising) which is all about helping grads get into marcomms. I got in touch with the blog in order to promote the Class of INITIALS programme, and was invited to add my own piece to their blog about my story of getting into and working in a marketing agency. You can read my interview-style guest post at