Category Archives: Tips
Last week, DGC welcomed Antonia Harrison, Account Manager with our sister agency Eulogy!. Antonia was E!’s winner of our inter-agency Rising Star program, a contest offering the opportunity for a DGC’er and a Eulogite to spend a week across the pond at their respective sister agency. The charge was twofold – for each winner to share how PR is handled in their homeland, as well as learning the differences in PR (and culture in general) in their weeklong home away from home.
Below, Antonia shares with us some of her insights on how to “PR” in the U.K.
After spending a week at DGC, Antonia talks through her top (surprising!) learnings of how PR works in the U.S.
There were some distinct differences and many similarities but across the board PR (in the U.K. or the U.S.) is all about understanding the news, finding those great story nuggets, maintaining stellar reporter relations and proactively securing placements.
Last week, Nina DiSesa, a creative consultant at R3:JLB, had a column in Ad Age talking about how love and trust were necessary ingredients in successful relationships between clients and their advertising agencies. She defined a “successful” relationship as one steeped in the following:
1) Longevity. Love and trust made the client-agency relationship last a long, long time because it meant that during any rough patch, the account lead was able to empathize and smooth things over. Thus, throwing an account into review was a rare occurrence.
2) Solid relationships between the client and agency allowed the agency to feel comfortable taking chances to produce stellar creative. The constant threat of having to pitch against other agencies makes creative professionals insecure, and they freeze up.
3) Good relationships lead to a happy result. Agencies produce work that resonates with customers, and client sales go up.
DiSesa should know. For many years she was chairman chief creative officer of the New York office of McCann-Erickson. DGC’s own CEO Sam DiGennaro wholeheartedly agreed with DiSesa’s column, offering, in part, this insight (via online comments):
“… intimidation, ‘gotchas’ and fear tactics have the trickle-down effect of demoralized talent, marginalized results and, worst case, commoditized offerings. This hurts everyone in the long run.”
A lot of others weighed in as well with equally interesting perspectives. Worth a read if you haven’t seen it.
From PowerPoints to cover letters, correct grammar and spelling are the lowest common denominators when it comes to mastery of the English language. Good copyediting skills are critical to any organization or writing endeavor.
We were reminded about the value of copyediting this week after Mitt Romney’s team released an iPhone app that spelled “America” as ‘Amercia.’ One of the unspoken rules of running for President is being able to correctly spell the country you’re trying to run. While I’m confident that Mitt didn’t write this app himself, it goes to show how effective copyediting can make a difference between a strong pro-candidate tool and a small PR crisis.
With this in mind, I asked The Hit Board’s two resident copy editors, Sally O’Dowd and Kathy Sampey, to talk about some strategies and tips when they copyedit press releases, bylines, and even this blog post.
How did you learn to effectively copy edit? Was it from class, work, or just something you were always able to handle?
Sally O’Dowd: I loved diagramming sentences in elementary school, and my mom did it with me. I still call her to discuss grammar rules. I also have a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University. We had copyediting tests based on the Associated Press Stylebook. If we misspelled a person’s name or some other proper noun, we failed the test. This was major inspiration for becoming a good copy editor.
Kathy Sampey: I’m not a “copy editor” per se. It’s a very specific skill, and people do it professionally. But yes, I first learned copyediting symbols in a college journalism class and became better at editing in general from working at the Associated Press.
What process goes into your copyediting? Is it on the screen, on paper, do you need private space and silence?
KS: First I give a piece of copy a read-through on screen but have discovered that printing something out to proofread and edit is far more effective. I catch a lot more to correct. When I print something out, I need to go to a quieter space to concentrate.
SOD: I prefer to edit on paper first. The conventional wisdom is: you catch more errors when you are holding paper in your hands than when simply viewing the screen, where you tend to view the copy more passively. I hold a pen in my hand and go word by word. Then, I make the edits electronically. I also fact-check the spelling of every proper noun, such as company names and even cities when I am in doubt. When I write something, I have another senior writer—usually Kathy— edit my work. One of my journalism professors used to say, “Every writer needs an editor.”
In the instance of Romney’s “Amercia” incident, how do you avoid easy pitfalls such as misspelling and incorrect word usage?
SOD: This was an egregious error, and it shows just how easy it is to make mistakes and overlook them. Always print your copy and review word by word—even if it is a couple of words for an app. No bit of copy is too small, especially when the stakes are so high.
KS: Everyone needs an editor. Everyone. So I would recommend always having a second or even a third pair of eyes proofread a piece of copy and by all means, print it out for people to review it.
When you do make an error and it’s published, how do correct it?
KS: In the Internet age, correcting something is easy and quick. Obviously it’s much harder in
SOD: Apps are more difficult to fix. It had been reported that it would take Apple five days to change the copy on the Romney app (because it required the submission of a new app), but it was changed the next day.print, and if a correction cannot be made or run in print, you just have to live with it.
Any good stories around errors?
SOD: As a reporter at a local paper in Connecticut several years ago, I was writing about a man’s fiancé. Instead, I wrote “finance.” None of my editors caught the error. I felt badly about it. The man had served in World War II, and the story meant a lot to him and to me.
KS: Yes, but I’m not sharing.
Are there any tips you could share to aspiring copy editors out there?
KS: That would be best answered by professional copy editors but it’s good to at least be familiar with AP style.
SOD: Take the time to get it right. If your eyes get tired, take a break. If you have the time, take the night off and review the copy the next morning. And definitely have someone else take a look at it when the pressure is on.
Thanks to Sally and Kathy for their contributions. Remember – always, always, always have a second pair of eyes review your work before having it post.
It’s been a long 17 months since we’ve seen our friends at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. We’re back in 1966 and SCDP is still trying to nail new business they desperately need. As we found out at the end of season four, Don has convinced Heinz to give them small piece of their business – the beans division – with the hopes of bringing attention to this often overlooked sub-brand (behind Ketchup). Thus, we find Peggy in the pitch room trying to sell in their first campaign idea to the client.
In the creative presentation, Peggy presents the team’s best campaign idea for the beans – a Bean Ballet. The client is not immediately thrilled (as Peggy expected), instead asking for something more conservative. Don joins the room and Peggy expects him to come to her rescue as her so often does when clients aren’t buying more provocative ideas. Surprisingly, Don simply agrees to come back to the client with something different and more in line with his desires. Peggy leaves feeling deflated from rejection, but that’s because she wasn’t working with the client’s vision.
If we were SCDP’s counsel on pitching new business, we would have made four recommendations to Peggy:
- Get the brief right. Briefs are critical to success. They allow clients to share their desires and visions from the outset, while helping to set expectations. When written properly, they are an important tool for both teams to stay on the same page and avoid disconnects along the way.
- Understand the way your client thinks, and tailor your pitch accordingly. If you know you have a conservative client that won’t be open to pushing the envelope, present your more conservative ideas first. Over time you can earn your client’s trust for more boundary-pushing ideas. If you can anticipate your client’s reaction, you will have a leg up for how to present your ideas, and how to work with them over time to take more risks.
- Communicate with your client. If there is a disconnect between the client and the agency, the work will suffer. Consequently, the relationship will suffer too. Make sure there is an open dialogue between you and your client…not just with your day-to-day client, but with the key decision makers. This will get you one step closer to success.
- Learn when to hold ‘em, learn when to fold ‘em. Sometimes (most of the time), a client wants what a client wants. Understanding when it’s appropriate to push for your own ideas, and when it’s appropriate to back down, is an art form, not something that’s learned from one meeting. Sometimes conceding your own ideas in the interim will allow your client to trust you later on.
We’re sure Peggy and the creative team will come back with a winning idea next week. Stay tuned!
Good advice isn’t always easy to find. But sometimes there are people you work with, at industry associations, in books, or even family that can dish out advice when you need it most and leave a lasting impression in the process. These words of wisdom can often be the driving force behind bigger business philosophies and life lessons that encourage individuals to find new ways to achieve success.
In a recent article from Business Insider, the world’s most recognizable executives shared the best career advice that they’ve received over the years. Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google, said the best advice he ever received was to say “yes” to things. Maureen Chiquet, global CEO of Chanel quoted Mickey Drexler, CEO of Gap, who said “you’ve gotta learn to listen.”
No matter what—or who—is your source of inspiration, everyone has that one memorable motto that helps them get out of bed in the morning and attack the work-day. Here are few gems from the DGC team:
- “A handshake says everything about a person – make it firm.”
- “Never hear the first ‘no.’”
- “Just because we work nine-hour days doesn’t mean you have a full nine hours to accomplish everything on your to-do list. Plan for interruptions.”
- “Asking questions does not make you stupid—it makes you inquisitive and thorough.”
- “Hire people who are smarter than you.”
- “Get on the board of a powerful women’s organization.”
- “Make sure that every time you make a mistake you know what you’ve learned and you try your best to apply the learnings next time.”
- “The day you stop learning is the day you should quit.”
Whether you’re fine-tuning your first-impression methods or extending your education, the key to a successful career is growth. Richard Branson, founder and chairman of Virgin Group said it best: “My mother always taught me never to look back in regret but to move on to the next thing.”
What’s the best work advice you live by?