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Interview questions made easy

There are only three real job interview questions:
1. Can you do the job?
2. Will you love the job?
3. Can we tolerate working with you?
     That’s it. Just learn to answer these, and you’re good.
     In a recent Forbes article, George Bradt shows that all other interview questions are just a derivative of one of these three key questions.
     Another way to look at the three questions is to think about it this way:
1. Do you have the right strengths?
2. Are you motivated for this job?
3. Will you fit in here?
     Learn how to answer these three questions (either set), and you will do well in any interview.  Make sure your resume and cover letter addresses these three questions, and you’ll be invited to more interviews.  Good luck!

The Power of an Artful Pitch

On day as we both pushed our young daughters on the swings in a neighborhook park, Raymond McKinney (a CD at The Martin Agency) told me “Good work that is presented like shit… is shit.” Luckily our daughters were both too young to pick up on the colorful language that gave flavor to that GREAT advice. I often recall those wise words, and I usually flip the quote around 180 degrees. It then takes on a little different meaning:  “Any work that is presented real well… is better work.”

Learn how to present work from the master, Peter Coughter.

Getting people to buy an idea takes two important things:  1) a good idea, and 2) a good presentation. Too often we focus so much on the idea an how the idea looks, that we forget to make sure the work is presented well.

One of the best presenters in the ad business is Peter Coughter, a colleague of mine at VCU. For years he has been inspiring young minds on the art of the presentation in his class called “Persuasion” (MASC-664) at the VCU Brandcenter.

I have never sat in on his classes, but it’s been a wish of mine for years. His work is that good. In January we’re all going to get the opportunity to learn from this master. Buy his book now, and it will make all of your work a lot better.

“The Art of the Pitch: Persuasion and Presentation Skills that Win Business”

by Peter Coughter

Release date:  January 3, 2012

Help Wanted: VCU Advertising

VCU is looking for two full-time, undergraduate ad faculty with hire dates in August 09.

One position for someone to teach strategic aspects of the business (account management, account planning, media planning). It is a tenure-track position. The position is listed with a minimum requirement of a master’s with professional experience. I think that as long as the candidate has strong professional experience and shows a deep interest in doing scholarship (research or professional work), the degree requirement isn’t a deal breaker.

The other position is for creative courses. The need is to focus on the writing courses. This is a long-term collateral position. This means that there isn’t a scholarship aspect to the job; the workload is all teaching. The minimum requirement for this position is a bachelor’s degree with extensive professional experience.

We are looking for passionate professors looking to help us build the strongest ad program in the country. We think of advertising as any brand communication that comes in contact with the consumer. We strive for work based on smart insights, strong thinking, fresh creativity, high responsibility, and an impact that creates results for the client.
Check out the job postings for the strategic faculty position and for the creative faculty position.

The new VCU Advertising program

In the Fall ’08 semester, VCU ad majors will no longer take courses like Art Direction, Copywriting, Account Management, and Ad Campaigns. Instead they will be required to take courses called Touch, Empathy, Awareness, and Curiousness.

Before I tell you about those weird course names, let me tell you about the overall curriculum changes and why we needed them.

Why change?  The reason is a simple one:  The ad business has changed. We needed to change to at least catch up to what is happening in the industry:

– the business of brands is less about making ads.

– there’s more collaboration now:

– creatives (writers and designers) are no longer the sole providers of creative ideas.

– media planners must understand more than numbers.

– creatives need to understand the business side.

– there’s that digital thing.

– non-traditional advertising continues to grow.

– and people hate ads more than ever.

But instead of just redesigning the curriculum to catch up to the industry, our goal was to create a program that is positioned for where the leaders in the industry are headed. Smart, forward-thinking ad agencies are removing the titles and tearing down the silos that separated one department from the other (examples include the hottest agencies in the world:  Naked Communications, Mother, Crispin Porter + Bogusky, The Martin Agency).  These companies are not making ads, they are connecting consumers to their clients’ brands and products.

“Art Direction” was an ad course that had been around for as long students studied advertising; it was where students learned to layout an ad. However, consumers are not interested in seeing ads. “Imagination” is the new course where students learn about aesthetics, visualization, and communication that engages consumers.

Why course names that are attributes?  Mark Fenske, one of the designers of the new program, explains it this way: “We want to develop in students the same attributes found in superlative practitioners in the advertising field. By focusing the curriculum toward the development of attributes instead of specific pieces or types of work, students themselves—with direction—will create work not only in the traditional formats long taught in the school, but they will also naturally work in the newer media formats they are familiar with and interested in.”

Another benefit from the interesting course titles is that students will quickly know that these courses are designed to inspire fresh thinking.  This ain’t your grandfather’s ad program.