Question from a buyer: I'm a 24-year-old digital media planner. Why does everyone make fun of me?
Amy says: In my family, we had a saying: "You only mock the ones you love." So don't necessarily take the teasing as a bad thing. But let me consider some of what may be going on. Until you reach the quarter century mark, it's difficult to have real credibility in the business marketplace. (Unless you are an ivy-league student who invents an Internet juggernaut.) No matter how educated you are, I'm not sure anyone is truly prepared for the daily activities in our digital advertising business. Experience is key and at your age, you don't have much. As you are interacting with sellers who may be up to 20 or more years your senior, there is probably a lot that they find charming about you, or you remind them of their own youth. And if they have been selling any length of time, they have met a ton of planners and they will get tickled about seeing you starting your own journey. I would advise you to join the fun. Our business is very social and being able to laugh at yourself is a great asset.
But if everyone is making fun of you, then maybe they are trying to drop some hints to help you out. The other family saying was "There is truth in every jest." At this point in my career, I know what my strengths are and I know what I do that drives my colleagues crazy. Maybe folks around you and/or sellers are just giving you a little dig or two to try to show you in a subtle way what kind of comments or behaviors are inappropriate in the workplace or aren't doing any favors for you in building a positive reputation. The advertising business is a roller coaster. Any feedback you can take in will make your ride much smoother and more fun.
The last option I think is that you are hanging around with a bunch of haters. If that is the case, then it is a real issue and you should discuss it with your direct line manager or human resources. In the movie "Malibu's Most Wanted" there is a saying: "Don't be hatin'." Everyone brings their baggage to work, and sometimes co-workers, clients, and partners get caught in other's emotional crossfire. Sharing your experiences with someone you work with can give you another perspective and confirm whether or not something formal needs to be done. And although it sounds scary, in my experience it's best to bring human resources in earlier rather than later. I always tell my team that I expect everyone -- especially sellers -- to treat them the way I would be treated as a director. If this doesn't happen, I want to know and I will address the issue. Mutual respect is key to getting things done right at work.
But maybe the armchair Dr. Phil answers are off-base when it comes to sellers and how they interact with us planners.
Jason, what are you guys really thinking?
Jason says: As someone who just celebrated the glorious milestone of 40, let me say that we laugh because we hate you. We hate you because you don't have to consider how busy you are at work against how much time you will have to lose if you throw your back out or tear your Achilles before deciding to play a pick-up game of basketball. You can just go.
Notwithstanding, I understand the nature of your question. I often read articles and attend many conferences where people refer to the decisions-makers in our business as the nameless, faceless, euphemistic, "24-year-old media planner." Usually not meant flatteringly. It is used to express frustration with having your fate determined by someone who may not be worthy of choosing when and where advertising dollars are allocated.
There can be many reasons to make fun of you young'uns, but here's just a sample:
· You work like dogs and you make little money.
· You often stare off into space during our presentations. (We refuse to believe our presentations are boring.)
· Once a month, you email the entire media plan to your external contact list. (We actually appreciate this one, because how else would we ever know how much our competition charges?)
On the sales side of the equation, we, too, have 24-year-olds working very hard -- but we don't ask them to decide where millions of dollars should be spent. They work hard because they want to get a chance to sell advertising to other 24-year-olds and make bonuses for their success.
Let me end with my appreciation for all the agency-side people, those wet behind the ears as well as those who have annually scheduled colonoscopies. We like you. We need you. We appreciate the work you do. Most of the time, your jobs are thankless and never-ending, but without you our business would not be the success it is.
I firmly believe we've only scratched the surface of revenue that will ultimately flow to the digital medium. Your contributions will only become more important. Some feel machines will decide the flow of ad money, but without thoughtful humans evaluating the possibilities, we have no hope. You are that hope. In other words, I believe the children are our future. Thank you, and let me know how many Yankee playoff tickets you need, punk.