"It’ll be great. Just smile and you’ll be fine." That was my boss’ advice at the start of the week as I went off to deliver my first-ever official client presentation. On this occasion, the smiles were very much of the nervous variety – this was a big deal. I’d driven my boyfriend mad the previous night rehearsing my lines and making sure my media jargon was up to scratch. As it turns out, I had nothing to worry about. Nobody guessed it was my first time presenting (or so they said…) and it all went really well. I may not be waking up at 5am to jump on a plane to New York to talk at a conference any time soon but, for me, this was a huge leap forward.
As is often the case in media, the opportunity to relieve my stresses with a glass or two of Champagne came a few nights later, when our planning team was invited to the Clear Channel Outdoor Planning Awards. As we were shortlisted for three awards, we invited along some of our Microsoft clients and had a great time socialising. The night ended at Mahiki, but we won’t go into that.
As you can imagine, Thursday morning started at a much more sedate pace, but I had no time to dwell on that as I’d agreed to spend the afternoon mentoring a work-experience student. As I started to explain to her the ins and outs of media planning, I was reminded of how difficult it can be to explain what we do (I’ve had the same problem trying to describe my job to my mum – and don’t even get me started on my gran).
Mention media agencies and, once people have established that we don’t make TV ads, they tend to think we’re just Mad Men in suits staring at spreadsheets all day. Today’s media world is much more varied than that and, certainly at UM, considerably more creative. So I took my mentee through some typical tasks: generating audience insights, creating new campaign ideas and planning media laydowns. As something a little more "curious" at the end of the day, I took her along to a storytelling evening down the road, which a few UM people went along to.
The week ended with some creative Friday fun, with a brainstorming session for Jack Daniel’s. We all brought in a picture of ourselves when we were 19 years old to try to recapture how we felt at that age and better understand our target audience. These sessions are a huge help when it comes to thinking about the campaign strategy and are a lot of fun too.
So that was my week and it ended just as most weeks end – in the local. I met up with a friend and discussed the trials and tribulations of our working week. I have to say I came away feeling very lucky to have such an interesting, varied and challenging job. And while I may be looking up from the bottom at the moment, after the week I’ve had, I feel that little bit closer to the top. All that’s left to do now is have my Campaign photo shoot. My boss is on hand again with his words of wisdom: "Just smile and you’ll be fine."
Emma Lodge is a planner at UM London