I've been working in this industry for 30 years now, having started as a young graduate at a media agency. I now have a young family and my son has been asking me if I think it's a good idea for him to join the media world. Would you recommend it to your children today?
It was my careers guidance councillor who I really have to thank for my career in media. In my written assessment, she suggested that I should concentrate on a vacation of some sort. It was only after I discovered I was dyslexic (and I shall forever be indebted to the National Dyslexic Associations) that I realised it was in fact a vocation she was directing me towards but, by then, it was too late.
I was working in media. It was fun and probably one of the best-kept secrets in as much as no-one outside of media really knew what people who worked in media did. Half the time, I don’t think we knew. To be frank, there have been times when it felt more of a vacation.
The industry in those days was very different to what it is now, but that’s not a bad thing. Whether you’re buying, selling or planning, the process has become far more sophisticated. More than anything, it has matured into a business that is now insightful, clever, meaningful and necessary in the current world.
Recently, my son did some work experience at one of the top media agencies in London. He spent five days working in various departments and came home saying how amazing working in a media agency was, how great the people were, and how interesting and diverse the work was. Thirty years ago, people generally entered the industry by default.
Today, it’s an industry that attracts the top graduates. Of course, technology has made a difference to the nature of this business, but the media industry has met this challenge, and that’s whether you’re a media agency or a media owner.
Thirty years on, media has grown up. Would I recommend a career in it to my son? There’s no need… he’s already way ahead of me and cannot wait to start.
I’ve so missed reading your weekly dilemma column in Media Week. I was always impressed by your forthright and helpful answers, which had both wit and wisdom in them. Did people actually write in to you or did you make all the dilemmas up? PS. Don’t forget the milk!
Thank you for the letter, Mrs E. You’d be surprised at the number of people that have said they miss seeing my column each week. I like to think that, over the years, my column has brought joy to many people in the industry and, dare I say it, brought a smile to the lips of a few as well.
However, I ended up being the Media Week agony uncle by default. Haymarket wanted to have a more upbeat, harmonious feel to the magazine, and the original idea was to have a weekly column by the Dalai Lama.
Unfortunately, in those days, media was nowhere near as important as it is now and His Holiness felt he would prefer to be addressing the more "creative" types than mere media bods so, at the last minute, he pulled out and I got the gig.
I was often asked if people really wrote in to me… and the answer to that was yes, they did. Some were printable, and many were not, but everyone received a reply. Even Guy Zitter (formerly of the Mail fame), who used to write in on a regular basis, usually to correct my copy.
After one column dealt with lying on your CV, I received a letter from a young man living on a homestead in South Africa who wanted to work for a courier company as a driver but didn’t have a driving licence, asking if I felt it was OK to lie. Thankfully, they weren’t all this random.
Most were media-related, some tongue-in-cheek, others quite serious. Often fun to write, occasionally hard, but always a privilege. It was also great to be asked to write the dilemma column again. When the editor called and asked me if I’d return to it for the 30th anniversary magazine, I replied: "Sure, what sort of content do you want?"
He replied: "Can you make me one with everything?" Now that really is a dilemma for the Dalai Lama.