Sunday, December 6, 2009

Nov 09 - Stan's rant

About eighteen months ago I wrote a column about young people using blogging and other forms of social media to break into advertising and marketing. This piece came about as a result of a couple of emails I had exchanged with Julian Cole.

At the time, I described Julian as an aspiring marketer and Monash Uni student. He now works at an agency in Sydney, still finds time to write a popular blog and is also the driving force behind the Australia’s Top Marketing Blogs list.

After thinking back on my email exchanges with Julian, I starting looking into what had become of some of the other young hopefuls I’d mentioned in that column from last year.

Back then Sam Ismail had unsuccessfully applied for an internship at Saatchi & Saatchi in London, and chronicled his struggles via social media. He’s now working as a strategist at one of London’s leading digitally focussed agencies.

Hong Kong born Gwen Yip was the other notable wannabe to appear in my column. She too has done well since I wrote about her, having had not one but two illustrated books published. She has also recently been awarded the 2009 Hong Kong DesignSmart Young Design Talent Award.

Sadly, I suspect that Julian, Sam and Gwen may go on to prove exceptions rather than the rule.

For every talented young person out there using social media to get noticed and get ahead, there are many who may not be quite as talented as they think they are.

It’s a harsh comment to make, I know. But as a veteran of both the ad industry and the world of blogging I believe my observation is far from unjust.

Advertising and marketing are difficult fields to break into. So in theory those who write blogs about it should be well placed to get noticed by prospective employers.

The problem is, as I see it, many young people think that taking pot shots at industry institutions via a blog is a viable route into the business. It’s not. Well not in my opinion anyway.

Anyone can start a blog. It requires no skill or money to do so. Yet some people think this is their first step to fame and fortune or at the very least a well paying job in marketing.

Starting a blog was not the reason Julian, Sam and Gwen got to where they are. They got there because they’re talented and smart. They used blogs as a way to help them get noticed.

Many of the wannabes writing blogs at the moment seem to think that having a blog makes them important. It doesn’t. Unless of course the blog is regularly read by important people in the industry. Which it generally isn’t.

How do I know this?

Because most senior marketers are not regular blog readers. Most senior ad agency execs don’t read a lot of blogs either. It’s a cliché I know, but they’ve generally got more important things to do.

If these people were regular readers of industry blogs, and on the lookout for someone to hire for a junior position, I suspect the following attributes would not be on their shopping list:

Someone who can’t spell despite having a spell checker built into their computer.

Someone whose grammar is so bad that many of their sentences do make sense.

Someone who claims to be an expert in an area in which they have absolutely no practical experience.

Someone who vehemently criticises the industry and the people who work in it.

Someone who rants about how employers need to bow to them rather than the other way around.

Well that’s my opinion anyway. And like the very people I have just criticised, I am prepared to use it. Perhaps I’m wrong. I’d like to hope I am. But sadly I very much doubt it.

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