Thursday, August 24, 2006

How To Get A Job In Advertising - Step One

Okay, the first step is actually to get a book together, get an art director, get a cell phone, a fixed address etc. etc. But we'll skip all that for now and jump ahead to my first day of looking in Hong Kong.

Step One - The Cold Calls

This part is pure grunt work. You go online, you look up all the places you want to work, you get the phone numbers and you start calling. It's simple, really, but the hardest part. You need to ask the receptionist for the creative director, and if you are lucky you will get a name. The trick is, if you get a name, to keep pushing, get an email while you are there, then a direct line if you can. If you've ever worked in telemarketing, this is the one time in life where you will look back on your job fondly for teaching you valuable life lessons: perseverance and thick skin.

Cold calling sucks, but if you are like me, and you don't know anyone or have any leads at all, it's where you start.

Don't give up.

I went through the list and called the top 17. Then I called again, and I kept calling until I got what I needed. Don't expect anyone to return your calls. It won't happen. Leave messages though, it will generate some awareness about your name when you call back later. The more times they hear your name the better. On the 8th time, they'll remember it.

Oh yeah, and in Hong Kong lunch is from 12-2. The best time to call is 5:45 pm.

Eventually you will get a creative director on the line and if you ask them if they want to see your portfolio, they will almost always say yes. That's the good thing, no selling is required. It's just getting through.

I don't like sending my work over email, but it's a good way to get their name, as it is usually a part of their email address.

Are you ready for the next step on how to break in as a freelance copywriter?

Or would you like to see what happened next? - Just read on

(Did anyone else watch Dragon's Lair when they were a kid??)

What happened next

At the end of the day I had three meetings set up for the next day. William Tsang, ECD of BBDO, Michaela Pjesar at Hudson (a headhunting agency) and Louie Hui at Bates. Not bad for a day's work. I also had a list of 6 CDs names and emails that I was to send my portfolio to online.

Okay, I'll get you up to speed as quickly as possible so the real blogging can begin.

Where I am at:

I've met with the following creative directors in the last 3 weeks. I've put my stuff up online and I've send out hundreds of emails.

William Tsang - BBDO
Hui Louie - Bates
Michaela Pejsar - Hudson Recruiters
Wayne Knowles - DDB
Dave Barlow - McCann
Paul Chan - Grey
Malcolm Costain - TBWA
Tan Shen Wong - Y&R
Colin Ruffell - Doremus
Victor Manggunio - BBDO
Simon Handford - Ogilvy and Mather
Tony Peck - OgilvyOne

and Chris Kyme from 8 Partnership is in the works.

It's been intense, lots of meetings, lunches, I sang with Wayne's speed metal band, saw one of their shows, went for steaks. And everyone has given me leads to other people to call - and I've called them all. I've been busy.

The most important thing is that they have met me, now they can put a face to a name, now it is just a matter of keeping top of mind.

My book is a junior book, there is no doubt about that. Some of them have liked it, others I think thought it sucked. But it proves I have experience. The problem is, in Hong Kong there is no work. Everyone is suggesting I go somewhere easier, like Singapore, and make scam ads. I don't want to do that. I want to build a book here. I like the challenge.

And it's a hell of a challenge really.

I started this blog today. At this point I am still holding on for freelance work. They have all told me it's not going to be easy, but I'm going to give it a go. I want it to work. To make it work, I need to work hard, stay top of mind, keep pushing, and eventually, I'll get there.

I have $7500 HK at this point. I started my trip with a fair chunk of change thanks to my vacation pay. This is what I have left. I figure I have two weeks to make it work, but I will do it, even if I have to bartend or sell travel articles or read tarot cards in the park, I will find a way. It's a good challenge.

The next step is online dominance. With this blog and the column I plan to take over the freelance copywriting words necessary to keep me at the top of the google searches. I will also use Craigslist, Ihaveanidea, Myspace and any other site I can find to get my name out there.

The ads we made with Pleasure Den Productions are finally online at YouTube. I need to find a way to get the Simmons radio on as well.

My next step is to contact the cds and let them know I have put their name to the top of Google. It is a practical way of showing my digital copywriting capabilities. I just hope it doesn't freak them out.

I had a card made up. Granted, the art direction is atrocious, but it sums up Canadian copywriter in Hong Kong pretty quickly don't you think?