Secret diary of an account handler

Secret diary of an advertising account handlerWhether you’re a fresh faced graduate or the new big cheese, adapting to agency life can be tough as I think we have all learnt this week with the news that has been coming out of a certain London agency, which I’m sure you’ve read about on Campaign and The Wall.

With unwritten etiquette and complex processes, you have to be extra perceptive to pave your way.  So here are my top ten sneaky tips and odd little bits to help ease those agency growing pains…

1. Bribery

Never underestimate the power of a biscuit. From traffic managers to technologists, a decent biscuit, complemented with a cup of tea, can get you further than you think. I also hypothesise that the more expensive the biscuit, the more effective it is in achieving the desired result.

2. Awareness

Casually dressed management is rife these days, so don’t be fooled by the quiet bloke inconspicuously warming up his lunch wearing a pair of converse. He’s actually on the board and so eating cold beans out of the can in front of him is not OK.

3.  Friends with benefits

Whether it’s Jen from studio or Dave from IT, having a friend in every department comes highly recommended. When commas evaporate two minutes before deadline and Outlook’s locked you out for the fifth time that morning, all you need is your bezzie’s extension number and the job’s a gooden!

4. Preparation

While we thrive under pressure, it’s a well-known fact that printers do not. Never delay printing until five minutes before your meeting. The toner will run out, someone will print a 200 page annual report, and you will arrive late with the attractive complexion of a tomato.

5.  Emailing

Handing in a dissertation titled ‘History o fart’ highlighted the real necessity of proofreading important documents – and nowadays emails. At the end of the day, spelling Lindsay four different ways, forwarding an email trail with ‘can you deal with this muppet please?’ to said muppet and copying directors into emails about the fit guy from Jo and the Juice is not wise.

6. Grumpiness

If people don’t want to say good morning or make small talk in the kitchen about the new mugs, don’t take it personally. It’s not you; it’s a project, client or two-year old insomniac.

7 . Managing finances

If you had a pound for every time someone left, had a birthday or ran a marathon backwards in a Mankini playing a recorder, you’d be rich. But while you’re not, don’t feel pressured to part with your bus money. Also, you don’t have to succumb to the hierarchy of take out. It’s OK if you haven’t got a spiced scallop and mango salad from Pret, a homemade tuna sandwich is perfectly acceptable and even quite retro!

8. Client conversation

From cats to Corrie, finding something in common with your client strengthens relationships and means no more awkward silences in lifts to meetings. Always steer clear of swearing, sexual references and how you spent Sunday with your face in the toilet because you went overboard on the vino at your Nana’s 80th.

9. Fridge Etiquette

This shouldn’t be the case, but let’s face facts. If you leave your food loose in a fridge shared by a floor of hungry pitch workers, then there’s a chance it’ll get snaffled. Top tip – put your food in a closed identifiable bag, on the bottom shelf, towards the back. If it’s still snaffled, try to refrain from sending all agency emails. No one will own up and people will think you’re a bit of a whinge.

10. Alcohol Consumption

No matter how comfortable you feel, getting drunk on your first work night out is never a good idea. Remaining calm and considered while colleague’s tongues around you loosen prevents any possible embarrassment, and gives you a key opportunity to get all the gossip. Of course once past your trial period, it’s fair game to get more than a bit tipsy however if you only remember one thing, remember this – avoid senior staff members at all costs. Note to self, practise what you preach.

Overall, agencies are supposed to be fun, fresh and innovative. While there will always be tears, tantrums and tremendous cock ups, with these exercises in personal risk management and a smile on your face, chances of the latter will hopefully decrease.

Charlotte Thornton is a campaign executive at TMW.

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