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Last month, my blog post “The Young Advertiser’s Field Manual” discussed the unspoken do’s and don’ts of working in an advertising agency. After receiving lots of great feedback from colleagues and friends who work in the ad industry, I thought I would write a follow-up to my original post. So, whether you have just started your first agency gig or are an outsider wanting a little insight to this profession, here are a few more tips to being a successful ad geek.
Feel free to add your own advice for young advertising professionals in the comments section.
1. Read trade publications. Whether you went to ad school or not, you need to be reading trade publications. Outlets like Advertising Age and Adweek will help you stay on top of the latest news in the world of advertising. Not to mention, you will look really smart in your next meeting when you site the latest smartphone stats.
2. Take notes. You will spend a good portion of time in your career in meetings. That being said, don’t rely solely on the account staff to summarize the events of the meeting. Instead, take detailed notes for yourself. I find that taking my own personal notes helps me to stay organized. Working in an agency means juggling several projects at once with zero margin for error. I promise you that taking good notes will save your ass at least once in your career.
3. Get involved. Join the local chapter of the American Advertising Federation or sign up for the agency softball team. Getting involved will help you build friendships and trust with your colleagues. Most importantly, getting involved shows your dedication to the agency. Loyalty goes a long way in this industry. I think you’ll find that getting involved at your shop will benefit you both personally and professionally.
4. Be a versatile employee. In today’s tough economic climate, agencies are always looking for new ways to cut costs. What this means for you is an opportunity to showcase all your skill sets. Agencies often embrace their employees’ other skill sets. For example, say you are an account coordinator by title, but also have some modeling experience. Don’t be afraid to share this information with your management team as they might look to you instead of a modeling agency to fill its next role in a commercial. Not only do you look like a versatile employee, but you also saved the agency a few bucks. There is a place for any type of talent at an ad agency, so it is to your advantage to bring all your skills to the table.
5. Write effectively. You are in the communications business, so you need to make sure you can write effectively. This doesn’t mean crafting up e-mails that are as long as an Egyptian scroll. Instead, correspondence should only be long enough to inform others in the clearest, most direct way possible. Leave the fluff copy in the ads. Whether you are a designer, account executive or copywriter, learn to communicate effectively and efficiently. Your clients and management team who probably receive hundreds of e-mails each day will appreciate the time you have saved them.
6. Be proactive, be flexible. When you see a potential problem arise, offer a solution. Always offer to help others, even if it’s outside your job description. You have to always remember you are now apart of a team. Being proactive and flexible are the building blocks for becoming a leader.

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