seven things I learned from working at a digital agency

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People love lists, and it’s so easy to come across clear and brief when you list items rather than write a full paragraph. I’ve been working at an agency for three years now, and my experience is rather shy. I’m pretty sure many colleagues can have a richer input; but the below comes from a social media specialist’s perspective.

  1. Brainstorming doesn’t work for everyone, but everyone should be there.

You may not be the enthusiast with all the sticky notes and highlighters and research mentality, all ready to burst ideas and challenge others in a brainstorming session. Some people listen and take notes, and share their feedback or research conclusions via email a few days later. Others are intimidated because of their junior position or the nature of the project. Brainstorming needs a fresh mind, a bit of research before the session and the ability to play both roles, the devil’s advocate and the client. In the creative industry, it is trickier: every client expects you to come up with the next viral idea, and they are righteous, they are paying you to come up with it anyway. You have to read a lot, keep an eye on what’s going on regionally and globally and ask questions to your seniors to research efficiently.

  1. It’s an agency, there are many faces. Stand out.

You don’t have to wear a green hat or huge glasses for that. The trick is to have the curiosity to memorize faces and names behind accounts. Memorize them, they memorize you. Use the account manager’s name when you address them, say the designer’s name after your cheerful “good morning”, type the developer’s name when you email him. When you’re at a business meeting, make eye contact, sit up straight and keep the clients’ business cards in front of you. When you’re at a networking event, shake hands, repeat the person’s name after they say it and make sure you memorize one feature in them you won’t forget..

  1. The brief is not brief but it’s your compass.

Do not start without a brief. You will be stuck in a loop of “am I doing the right thing?” for a full day, and then you’d notice you have nothing written to get back to every once in a while. In the digital industry, it’s easy for someone to divert off-brief; you’re researching and one click leads to the other, especially if the topic is interesting. Briefs organize projects and highlight the scope of work – yes exactly the SOW – that everyone working on the project loves going back to when the client acts dramatic over what they were expecting and what they received.

  1. The best pitch wins, regardless of the hours it took to come up with it.

This is the equivalent of work smart not hard. A pitch doesn’t necessitate you show up at the agency in your pyjamas ready to pull an overnighter to get it done. A perfect outline, a logical flow of slides and data to back up the strategy are the building blocks for that document you’re going to stress about presenting until 30 seconds before you begin.

Read the RFP carefully and check what material the potential client has sent. Follow the brand guidelines, under-promise and over-deliver, and make sure everyone on the pitch is aligned on the expectations of that potential client.

  1. Be proud of the outcome you produce; it reflects how good you are.

Start every project and every account with the intention of delivering your best, regardless of the awful brief or the typicality of the client. Pour your heart into it and give it your all. But watch out, the client will come back with feedback from the laundryman in the same building as the wife of his second cousin’s stepmother. You can cater to this feedback, and you can be firm about your submission. Should you choose the first option, make the best out of it. Should you choose the second option, explain thoroughly why you think your touch is correct, be it UI/UX, or a line of code, or a fancy description in the About Us on the Facebook page.

  1. Don’t fall for generalizations; it’s never the same anywhere.

Numerous are the people who work at agencies, and all of them love writing. Sometimes, they contribute to a magazine in a column or add their thoughts on an article, and suddenly, this becomes the new status quo. Really? Six signs you are a creative person with one of them being that you have a cluttered desk. Four ways to tell that your co-worker is a developer with one of them being that his headphones are large enough. Ten books you need to read to seal the next advertising deal with one of them being Sophie’s World. Writing is relative. Opinions are relative. The titles I trust the most are the ones that include a first person voice, that way you are prepared to read something subjective, from the point of view of a writer. Same thing applies to what you hear in those ‘networking’ parties about the ‘head of creative’ being a stylish creep with all colors of pens on their desks or whacko hair.

  1. Digital is a lifestyle.

Open yourself up to lots of different and new experiences. When I started out in digital, there was a huge temptation to try and fit in with the others. I paid more attention to the digital world around me: apps, websites in both their desktop and mobile versions, social platforms and advertising on them, algorithms, new features and technological updates. It’s a package, and it’s not as simple as knowing the brand of your mobile phone. Digital is a 360 scheme and needs open mind and eyes always on the look for advancements and changes.

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