Megan

Anthony Mendoza – 5 Skills Accounts People Should Always be Improving

The role of an advertising account executive (we like to call them “AEs” for short) is a moving target. You’ll get a different answer from everyone you ask. Depending on the day, your teams will think you are the “defender of art” or the “killer of creativity”, your clients will think you are the knight in shining armor or a fool, and your parents still have no idea what to tell anyone about what you do.

“But what do you actually do?” – Everyone

 

There are so many aspects to this position that a good AE should be constantly learning and working to improve the different parts of their job. I’ve come up with 5 areas that AEs should be constantly strengthening,

 

  1. People Skills

 

 “I don’t know if anyone ever told you that half the time this business comes down to:

‘I don’t like that guy.’” – Roger Sterling

Half of our job is dealing with people. Clients, bosses, team members, etc. How you speak in various settings directly reflects on how you operate as an accounts executive. Your personality will come through in a pitch meeting, and you better believe that a crap personality from an AE can overshadow creative work no matter how wonderful it is. It’s your job to support the wonderful things your team are doing by being able to clearly communicate their work to your clients. If they like you, life is much easier.

There are dozens of books to read about how to effectively communicate, lean on your older peers, ask for critiques from your team members who regularly see you communicate. It’s impossible to be perfect, but you can strive to always be growing.

 

  1. Giving Feedback

This goes hand in hand with the first point. How you communicate with your team is just as important as with your clients. Feedback is going to come from your clients. Some of it won’t be positive. Your job is to give your team feedback in a way that effectively communicates the issues while maintaining and protecting positive team morale. The best way to do that is different depending on the makeup of your team. Different people receive feedback differently.

 

3. Listening

“You were born with two ears and one mouth for a reason.” – Mothers everywhere

 

Listening is the most valuable skill an AE can have. In any meeting, and as you know there are lots of them, people will ask questions, give feedback, request things, etc. It is your job to hear those things, interpret them and disseminate that information to the proper parties. Being able to pick up on those things that can regularly be shared subtlety will get you very far.

I would argue that proper note taking would fall under listening as well. Don’t count on your awesome memory to take you through. Find a system that works for you and stick to it. Being able to recall everything that happened in a meeting is key to being able to keep your team, bosses and clients all on the same page.

 

  1. Organization

Not my desk, but potentially could be.

 

This is one of the things I’m constantly working on, organization. This job requires you to multi-task. It never fails that all of your clients to want everything all at the same time. Without an organizational system that works for you, something will get missed. I’m a fan of writing lists and having a physical representation of what my day/week looks like but find whatever works for you. I had a boss that organized her tasks by length of time required to complete them. That seemed to work well for her as her day was very scheduled out with meetings so being able to quickly find a task to complete in the 15 minutes before the next meeting was important to her.

When finding the right organizational system, it’s important to take company culture into account. Sticky notes in an office with fans might not be the best idea. In past jobs, I used a whiteboard but because I’m all over the place around the office due to meetings, that system wouldn’t work well here.

 

  1. Continuous education

An AE touches most aspects of the advertising business, from sales to creative and beyond, so it is important to at least have basic knowledge of all the departments you come into contact with. You don’t need to know how to knock out a beautiful digital ad (that’s creatives job) but knowing what work goes into it allows you to properly scope the work and maintain realistic client expectations. Keep up with trends in the industry, ask your team what the emerging thing in their field is, read blogs from industry experts so you can help your team create great campaigns and potentially upsell clients to make sure they’re on the cutting edge. It’s perfectly acceptable to ask you team about their expertise but being able to give a rough overview of the process to the client is always helpful if needed.

While that’s just 5 areas for you to look at, there are plenty more. There are numerous websites and Facebook pages devoted to the industry as a whole and professional development. I enjoy Adfreak, The Dieline, and Social Media Examiner. If you are constantly growing in one of these many areas, you can’t help but become a better AE.

MeganAnthony Mendoza – 5 Skills Accounts People Should Always be Improving
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Robby Schlesinger – My First Week in Review: Life Among the Amplify Relations Tribe

As I walked from my car to the steps of my new office, I felt like Jane Goodall must have before plunging into the wilds of Tanzania to live among the great apes. Granted, downtown Reno isn’t much like Tanzania, nor are my coworkers much like chimpanzees (for the most part). I just mean I felt the same sense of trepidation I imagined she felt before setting off on a new adventure, to live among a group she did not belong to.  At least the chimps didn’t expect Goodall to actually do anything. I on the other hand had been hired to do a job, and if I was going to do it right, I would have to study the behavior of this small troop, learn their ways, and blend in so that they might accept me as their own. Though my time with them has been brief up to this point, I’ve learned much from them already.


 

Day 1:

Field notes in hand, I cut my way through the foliage of the lobby (maintenance really didn’t like that), arriving to face the tribe’s sentry and gatekeeper, the one I’ve come to know as “Colby.”  There was no fear in his eyes when he saw me. To my surprise, instead of raising an alarm warning of an outsider, he instead greeted me warmly and offered me something called coffee, one of the tribe’s talismans.  He guided me through the bright passageway to the den of one of their great chieftains, she who I now know as “Megan.”

I greeted her in the customary way befitting one of her status, with a handshake and a respectful utterance of “How’s it going?” She took her seat and gestured for me to do the same, then proceeded to lay out a complex array of scrolls over her desk, something she called “new-hire paperwork.” I was astonished; they had a written language! What’s more, it seems my new role would be that of a scribe, or “copywriter,” a position Megan explained to me in detail, along with words like “PPO” and “Wellness Program” and other strange things I did not understand.

The scrolls bearing my signature, Megan led me further through the halls, arriving to another den that was to be mine, with a desk and a flat silver device with a symbol of an apple emblazoned on it surface. Their advanced technology surprises me; clearly, they have had contact with the outside world before.

Day 2:

The troop is small, numbering no more than ten. These findings will put to rest previous assumptions of the PR professional being a carnivorous selfish spin-doctor; they work together for the good of the tribe, collaborating on everything, and depend on each other for survival. Initially, I was worried about overcoming the language barrier, but I quickly learned how easy it was to understand their strange jargon, and soon I was joining in multiple instances of a ritual they call “brainstorming.”

Day 3:

No day is like the one before here; the tribe’s activities shift throughout the day, and mine with them. In the morning, I write a short story about cigars, and by late afternoon, I write a full course plan. In between, I meet with the shamans upstairs, those they call the “creative team,” discussing character archetypes, plotlines, and production budgets. Later, I gather around a great table with another subgroup in the tribe, the “PR team,” and discuss course curriculums, assessment rubrics, and one of their idols, a tortoise god they call “Sage.”

Every task is performed with a sense of urgency. I find myself constantly accepting calendar invites, splitting my time between writing in my den and attending meetings. Far from being left to work alone, I am offered help and guidance from each member in turn; they are all eager to teach me their ways.

Day 4:

Today we celebrated the tall, ancient one called “Patrick.” All week he has worn a series of the most outlandish headwear, though as a display of dominance or for punishment for incurring the wrath of those they call “the Alli’s,” I cannot say and dare not ask. We surround him at the table where they hold conference, with offerings of sweet bread adorned with many candles and three old beers found in the back of the fridge. He exhales with an impressive vigor for one as old as he and extinguishes the flames, divvying the sweets equally among all of us gathered there, but keeping the beer for himself, as is his right as an elder of the tribe.

Day 5:

I spend the morning gathering images of cats asking for cheeseburgers to be somehow “shared” the following week, before joining the tribe at their temple, a bar and grill across the street called “Brickies.” There, they invite me to join in a ceremonial cleansing of the sins, buying rounds of drinks as penance for mistakes made that week. We toast our victories, and they share with me stories of the tribe’s past. I am among warriors, I realize, and it is with great honor that they accept me into their ranks.


 

Clearly, further research is necessary to fully understand the ways of the tribe at Amplify Relations. I will continue to work among them, to study their behavior, and to contribute to the group to the best of my ability. For science. And a paycheck too, but mostly for science.

MeganRobby Schlesinger – My First Week in Review: Life Among the Amplify Relations Tribe
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