Looking through my old blog posts recently, I came across this one from two years ago, dolling out some (very) straight talking advice for Graduates who fancied a career as an Account Planner.
On reflection, I think I missed out a fairly important point, so I thought it might be worth a follow-up post:
Start a blog. No, make that start a blog and then post to it regularly. I don’t care whether it’s about Planning as a discipline, great ads you love, weird road signs or your collection of Lego, just be yourself and write about whatever you’re interested in. But do keep writing.
I end up visiting quite a lot of blogs belonging to people who want to be Planners – and very few of them are updated regularly. It’s all very well telling me you’re dedicated to making Planning a career, but if you aren’t dedicated to your blog beyond the 5th post or haven’t touched it for months (illness, acts of god etc. excepted), then something’s not quite right.
It’s not just about showing a potential employer that you can put finger to keyboard on a regular basis and come up with something interesting – it shows how your mind works. A couple of months ago I went to have a chat with the Head of Planning at a large agency that I hadn’t met before. As I got my portfolio and CV out, they told me there was no need to spend too much time on either as they’d read my blog, knew how my brain worked and how much was my daily rate? In fact, “hello, I’ve read your blog” is the most common handshake-and-hello experience I’ve had in the last six months flogging my freelance services around the agencies of Yorkshire.
The classic case study of how-to-do-it for aspiring Account Planners who blog has got to be Rob Mortimer and his blog The Ad-Pit. I’m sure Rob will correct me if I get the details wrong, but basically he was determined to have a career in Planning and used his blog to demonstrate his aptitude, interest and enthusiasm. Such was the response from the Planning community that several Planners even set up a Give Rob a Job page endorsing him and the story ended happily with Rob now working as a Planner at a big Manchester agency.
But that didn’t happen overnight, Rob first posted to his blog in February 2005 and finally landed a job in January 2008. In the meantime he wrote around three hundred blog posts. And those posts lead to him joining the Northern Planners get-togethers, speaking at Interesting 2007, modelling the D&AD flag and so on. Which, one way or another, made him very employable. But he worked very hard for it and while still working full time in a non-Planning role.
So, if you really, really want to be a Planner, my advice would be to start a blog to show potential employers how your brain works – and enthusiastically update it.