What's the best way to reach out to advertising agencies about work?
February 15, 2012 6:08 AM   Subscribe

So how exactly does a junior advertising copywriter introduce herself to agencies?

My situation: I recently graduated from a creative internship at a major agency. It was my first advertising job after doing a 180 in my career, and I loved it and want to stay in the industry.

I've been sweating bullets over my portfolio and sought feedback from everyone I respect, and I'm now reasonably happy with it (though I know your portfolio is always a work in progress). A friend is currently designing up the latest version, and I hope to have it printed soon. I have a website I'm pretty happy with. I've started a bunch of personal projects since I finished two months ago, and while small they've been well received. I reached out to a headhunting type recruiter, though I'm nervous as I haven't heard anything from them in over a month. I have a lot of friends in the industry, and recommendations from impressive people I really respect.

I'll be the first to admit I'm very junior, but I should be able to get it together to at least set up regular meetings, right? But it's been crickets. I just don't know *how* to talk to agencies. I've had exactly one meeting, and that happened when I put together a big (perhaps gimmicky) package of things and physically showed up to the agency I was interested in and asked for the recruiter. I told a friend about this, and she told me people hate gimmicks, and then upbraided me about being 'unlikeable' (probably a subject of another question, but suffice to say her comments totally knocked the wind out of me).

So what do I do?? I've been actively sending emails to recruiters at agencies, but... nothing. No response. I'm going to a few big agency parties this week and hope to talk to the right people, but I feel really stuck about how to translate 'networking' into 'meeting'.

FWIW - I ideally want a junior position, but I would be happy with another internship. I don't have a creative partner and I'm looking. Some people have suggested I go to ad school, but I don't have the finances for that. I'm just super keen to get back into the fray.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (6 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
I'm a freelancer who *sometimes*does projects for advertising agencies, although it is not really my industry. I'm just going to share how I get projects, and I think that this could work for you, too, although you will go after a job vs a project.

Get a list of as many advertising companies as you can. Is there a publication in your industry that includes the best ad companies? Or have you googled "ad agency" plus "list" plus "email" (and other search terms)? Or looked at LinkedIn for companies? Better yet, see if your library has a book listing the companies, which often has email and other contact info for people who are high up in the company. Now with your list of companies, write a brief email to ....presidents, senior vp,etc. A brief email "Dear X, I am a junior copywriter, who has experience in (throw in a few bullets listing this). I am looking for a position as an X or a Y. Best regards, anony (include contact info)." You can also look at the web pages for small companies and drop in a similar in the "contact us" box. What this turns into is that the company is busy, the person often forwards it to the appropriate department, and then when they needs someone *right now* they contact you.

The other suggestion that I am going to give for info interviews is to try to find people who have the jobs that you want right now, not the recruiter or higher up person. Why? These people can give you tips as to how they got in and they often know about other openings. They can review your resume and point out trends/etc. They may also be able to recommend recruiters who are appropriate for you (all of them are not great, find someone with many contacts who has placed someone at your level--your peers know this and share the info). How do you find these people? Find an alumni list for your former undergrad college, or just google or use linkedin and look for people in your area. This is one approach that I used for info interviews, not typing it all again.
posted by Wolfster at 6:35 AM on February 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

Where are you? MeMail me.
posted by functionequalsform at 7:13 AM on February 15, 2012

hey, i've worked as a creative for almost 10 years now. just start calling agencies and ask to speak to the creative recruiter. or get their email (usually the main line will give it out) and send a SHORT note telling them you'd be interested in a junior/intern position and don't let up till you get some sort of response. obviously attach your website (hardly anyone looks at printed books anymore).

most of the big agencies will start hiring internes for their summer programs in may/june.

reach out if you want more advice.

oh and don't bother with outside recruiters. they are no help to juniors.
posted by gbentz at 7:20 AM on February 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

The last 2 creative jobs I've had I found through Twitter. And these were on opposite sides of the planet, too. Subscribe to the social feeds of all agencies in your area that you'd like to work for, and their key people - they'll often have leads to work.

A really well written, personalized, email to heads of departments/recruiters along with a link to your portfolio is a good idea too.
posted by teststrip at 7:28 AM on February 15, 2012

Slightly off topic, but here's an additional way into the big ad agencies. Let every freelance web designer you can find know about your copywriting chops. Freelance web designers often need to offer copywriting services to clients who can't write good copy for their businesses. Many ad agencies use these same freelance web designers. They may be happy to share your name with the ad agencies.
posted by Elsie at 8:04 AM on February 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

Hi. Ad copywriter here with more years under my belt than I'd like to think about. The ideas mentioned above are all good. You probably won't be able to get in to see the CD, so after you've contacted the head of Creative Services, get the email address for the Group head/senior writer and show them your work. It will also be hard to see them, we're busy. But try. Email them a sample of your work so they know you're worth looking at and after you've seen them, touch base every now and again so they know you're keen. We do hear of job openings and refer suitable people on.

I'd also recommend turning up to industry functions. It's a great way of meeting people and getting your face about. In the meantime, work on your book so when you see the same people 6 months later, you have new work to show. Even if it's proactive stuff, don't stay stagnant. And above all be keen and project enthusiasm. Dont have an ego - youve done nothing yet to merit one, so accept feedback with good humour, people are taking time out of jam packed days to see you.

Talent counts for something but I really believe the job goes to the person who works the hardest and wants it the most. We've all been there and gotten through it. It might take a couple of years to get in but if you want it badly enough, you'll get there. Good luck, memail me if you need to.

Oh, and if you get a partner, make sure they're at least as good as you, if not better. You want to improve your work, always, not bring it down.
posted by Jubey at 5:37 PM on February 15, 2012 [2 favorites]

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