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22 Aug 2018
BY Ali Findlay

10 Tips for Surviving Agency Life

Our take on what makes for a long, happy, productive career working in an agency.

As The Lane has now been in existence for a decade (meaning that we’re getting on a bit in terms of agencies!) it’s fair to say that we’ve picked up more than a few tips on how to survive the many challenges that ‘agency life’ brings. Here’s ten insights that we’ve found have helped us navigate the waters of this crazy old industry.

1. Learn to bounce back.

So you’ve seen every episode of Mad Men? Great. Remember though, it’s not always glitz, glamour and cocktails at questionable times of the day. Most of the time, it’s hard graft and even harder feedback. It might not make for great TV, but does help shape leaders and experts. The best in the biz are those who can take a knock and come back ten times stronger. Most of the time you WILL face rejection. Learning to shrug it off and come back with an even better work of art (or even communicate your original in a better way) will help your chances of survival in a big way.

2. Network.

Love it or loathe it, it’s a fact of life in this world. People and personalities drive this industry and learning not to ignore all those invites to industry events is the first step to making the most out of your extended circle. OK, so you might have to give up the odd weekday evening but getting out on the ‘scene’ is a great way to meet future clients, employees and opportunities in general. And so what if you don’t have the most productive experience? There’s always the canapes and free prosecco...

3. Be humble.

Finding success in the world of marketing and advertising can be a pretty intoxicating experience. One to be savoured for sure, but definitely don’t milk it. If you’re lucky, you’ll hear about it when people have had enough of hearing about your latest big win. If you’re not, you won’t.

4. Ask questions early.

Whether it’s a briefing, client meeting or an interview, if there’s something you’re not 100% on: just ask. You’ll feel a lot less stupid asking it earlier on in any situation than at the last minute.

5. Embrace the feedback.

It’s not just creatives for whom regular feedback is an integral part of the job, everyone needs it. But not everyone’s adept at dealing with it. It’s a tough one to learn but doing your best to be objective about how your peers evaluate you is the fastest way to grow. You don’t have to agree but you do have to understand what it is you’re being told and why. No one gets it right all the time, but running a mile from anything negative is not going to help anyone.

6. Don’t underestimate your clients.

Your clients might not always appear to be making the most informed decisions, but if you’ve done your best to give them the full picture and they still don’t want to take your advice, don’t push it. They know their business best and there’s usually a whole context that you may not be privy to that factors in to their choices. Chris, our Client Services Director, gives his take on the client/agency relationship.

7. Don’t steal from the fridge.

Never. Ever. (Unless maybe you’re working late on a pitch. Even then, choose carefully.)

8. Only present work you love.

It’s hard to get there but making sure you’re 100% behind everything that leaves the agency is pretty damn important. There’s always a chance the client will pick that one route that you’re not so into – are you really prepared to fully realise each one of those concepts/designs/campaigns you presented? You might have to work on it for a while to come!

9. Weaknesses are acceptable.
 
An agency is a team, and together you should make up the whole spectrum of skills. Everyone’s got strengths and areas that they’re just not naturally adept at. Concentrating on the areas that you can comfortably contribute to and letting your teammates pick up where you’re not so hot is absolutely fine. That said, getting out of your comfort zone every now and then is always good!

10. Stay Positive.

As we mentioned before, there are ups – and there are downs. Doing your best to stay positive won’t just help you bounce back from any setbacks that will inevitably happen, it’s contagious and will help your team recognise that it’s not the end of the world.