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April 27, 2005
Creating Great Media People: A Matter of Training and Inherent Skills
 

The days of arming junior level media people with a basic knowledge of media math and some media kits are over. In today’s world, fragmentation of media and the evolving role of the media planner mean two things 1) the training that media people require is different from years past and 2) in order to separate the good people from the great people, there are certain inherent employee skills and interests that need to be present in the individual.

Aside from the rapidly growing US media landscape that is home to 3,519 TV stations, over 100 broadcast TV and cable channels, 13,898 radio stations, 5,340 consumer magazines, 8,100 daily and weekly newspapers, and virtually limitless out-of-home and online opportunities, there are many new media types emerging. Video on Demand, Satellite Radio, DVR, video game advertising and G3 technology are the future of the media world and before long, this list of emerging media types will get longer and include more technologically driven applications. Consumers aren’t going to be as receptive to the :30 spot as they have in the past, and with the emergence of Tivo and DVR, some consumers will zap right through the spots that advertisers are paying top dollar to run. This is just one example of the many obstacles fragmentation has faced the media industry with.

Today’s media people need to be willing to find ways around the obstacles and it is important that through training, individuals are both educated on the following essentials and possess these certain qualities that can be cultivated as their careers grow:

  • Basic media knowledge including but not limited to media math, various media tools and strengths and weaknesses of different media. The role of the media planner may be evolving, but that doesn’t mean this isn’t an important part of the job—it is, in fact, the foundation of our daily jobs. If someone has been in media for several years and still doesn’t know what a GRP is, media may not be the right career choice.
  • Media is not just a science, it is also an art. Some of today’s most talked about and innovative ideas are media driven. More and more, media people are functioning in a creative capacity by developing branded content directly with vendors. The basis of ideas such as these is to create a deeper connection with consumers than advertising can on its own. Media people are now more than ever being empowered to be creators—if a medium doesn’t exist to fulfill your client needs, by all means go out and invent it!
  • How to be a people person. Even in a full service agency, not all clients are full service. This means that media people are more often than not the day to day contact with clients and need the personality and skill set to be an account person too. Strong communication, writing and presentation skills are quickly becoming the difference between a good media professional and a great one. Sometimes you hear of an assistant planner or planner who is having trouble getting promoted. More often than not these people are described by their managers as great with numbers “but he/she isn’t a good people person.” In order to climb the media ladder today it is essential to have the ability to know how to sell yourself and deal with people.
  • A strong interest in understanding the technology behind emerging media. You cannot expect to concept and sell ideas in this arena if you don’t or can’t understand and grasp the capabilities behind the mediums.

Aside from these, possibly the most important thing to impart on employees is that no matter how long they stay in media and regardless of what levels they achieve, this is not a static industry. A good media person needs to be taught to accept that they will always be a perpetual student of the trade. In such a dynamic environment that is continuously advancing, we have to remain ahead of the curve to stay competitive with other agencies and service our clients.

As this article appears on Talentzoo.com, hopefully it will help employers look for the right qualities in candidates and help prospective media professionals decide if it is the right path for them.


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Media has taken center stage in the advertising world, so Murray Dudgeon commands attention. Currently, Murray is Chief Operating Officer and Acting CEO of Universal McCann Worldwide. He divides his time between New York and London, but his reach and influence extend around the globe.

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