Top 10 Takeaways from the Student Advertising Summit
My name is Felicia Johnson, and I am currently a senior in the SJMC advertising program at the University of Minnesota. (Go Gophers!) I wanted to take the time to share some key points that I noted from the Ad2 Student Advertising Summit this past weekend. Sit back, relax, and scroll at your leisure!
After a successful Friday of meeting professionals, chatting with like-minded students, guzzling coffee, and taking notes on presentations, I decided to go through and select the top things that I took away from the Student Advertising Summit! I have never attended the summit before, so I didn’t know what to expect. However, my expectations were shattered and exceeded! I met so many awesome and engaging people with invaluable advice. There were literally hundreds of lessons to be learned, but there were a few that jumped out at me in particular. Ladies and gentlemen, here we go:
10. “There is no right or wrong road map to follow. No two people are the same.”
This quote was from the Knock, INC. presentation during breakout session one. The speakers of the session were Grant Buntje and Jenn Morgan, who have a combined 26+ years in the advertising industry. In thinking about how many students were at the event, you have to remember that you are unique, and that your goals will be different from other people’s goals. Focus on your road map, and you won’t have to deal with any ‘dead ends’.
9. “Every opportunity is an opportunity to sell.”
Whether this quote applies to advertising, or to selling yourself as a brand to future employers, it’s true. Take every chance that you have to sell what you believe in. You never know what may come out of it. Like the hockey-great Wayne Gretsky said, “You miss 100% of the shots you never take.”
8. “Work within your means.”
HTML, dielines, and UX… oh my! This quote was from a breakout session with Frost Simula of The Nerdery. In the context of this presentation, Frost was talking about developing mobile “apps” and using the constraints given from a developer. Since many of you may not be going into the complex world of coding and developing, I wanted to translate this quote in terms of advertising and career goals. This quote can be translated into, “Don’t promise things that you can’t deliver.” It’s plain and simple, but is sometimes forgotten in the hustle and bustle of the workday.
7. “Find creative outlets outside of advertising.”
This applies to everyone in the industry, not just creatives. In the sessions that I attended, almost every group raised the question of “Where do you go to find inspiration?” Each professional stressed the importance of finding something that you enjoy doing outside of the advertising field. People tend to get “pigeon-holed” in their daily jobs, and that makes finding inspiration much harder to do. Some dance, some draw, some explore, some read. Find out what you do, and relish in it.
6. “You are an advertiser, but you are a consumer too. Be a consumer of your industry.”
I think that this point is incredibly important. As advertising gurus, we tend to think that we are exempt from the sales pitches of advertisements. It is important to be a consumer of your industry, and to understand it from the inside out. This will help you create better work no matter what path you take in advertising.
5. “Always be prepared… for anything!”
In my case, there were a few unexpected surprises from the Student Advertising Summit. Whether it is having extra shoes, business cards, or extra confidence… always be ready! I’ll touch on two quick personal examples:
- Have a backup outfit, or a Tide-To-Go pen. Typical me, I got a mark on my dress, and had no way to get it out. However, I had a back-up outfit to put on before the agency tour began. Always keep another outfit, set of shoes, resume, or whatever you may potentially need in your car. Nobody ever regretted being too prepared.
- Be ready to go on stage and “shake your hair” in front of 200+ industry professionals and students! It happens, and it happened to me! Keynote speaker Christopher Owen asked me to come on stage to give be an example of a “typical hair commercials”. There was a point to the whole ordeal, but I had no clue what I was doing at that moment. I just went along with it. Smile, have fun, and don’t take everything too seriously. If you tend to be too serious all the time, then this probably isn’t the right industry for you.
4. “Tell a story.”
As stated before, Christopher Owen from The Richard’s Group in Texas was our keynote speaker. This year was the first time that SAS had flown anyone in for the summit, and I am so glad that they did! Christopher had oodles of interesting points in his presentation that it was hard to keep pace and write them all down! I managed to do so, and this quote stuck out right away. He emphasized that humans love storytelling. People really get into it. It's one of the oldest ways that we communicate. Furthermore, people don’t enjoy being sold anything. He also stated, “The best commerce in the world convinces us that it’s art, not advertising.” If you tell a story in your advertisement, it will hardly feel like an ad at all. It seems too simple, but it’s an art often lost in a world of chocked full of infomercials and QVC programming.
3. “Develop a strategy that deliberately breaks rules and establishes new ones.”
Yet another insightful Christopher Owen quotation from his keynote session. This idea is brave. Many times, we picture traditional advertising as the “Mad Men” era. Nowadays, we have seen many people break away from the traditional, full-service agencies, and shift to small creative and digital shops. We see different types of advertisements that break the mold of what people think they should be like. “Rules” of advertising had to be broken to get to this point, but they were broken with good intention. Remember, hardly anything ever changes by being complacent, or sticking to the status quo.
2. “The absence of negative proves bigger than the presence of positive.”
This quote is incredibly thought provoking. Keynote speaker Christopher Owen was applying this idea to the concept of consumer reactions to products and advertising. However, I think that this can be applied to numerous situations in life. When you have a spare moment, just think about it. There is no right or wrong way to look at this quote!
1. "Ask questions."
Last, but not least. Yes, it’s that simple! At every discussion, breakout session, tour, and conversation, I made it a goal to ask at least one insightful question. Not only will you learn more, but you will impress the people that you are talking with as well. As students, this is our time to ask questions and seek more information! We aren’t expected to know everything, and that is the beauty of it. One important thought on questions in the fact that you shouldn’t have to think too hard about what to ask. It should come naturally. If you are genuinely curious about a topic, your question will be insightful and sincere. The Student Advertising Summit gave everyone the opportunity to ask real-world questions, and to get honest answers. Always be curious!
So there you have it. My Top Ten Takeaways from SAS 2012! Some are silly, some are serious, but all are applicable to advertising and job searching. If you did not attend this year, I encourage you to join next year. I truly enjoyed the Student Advertising Summit experience, and hope to be back next year for more networking fun!