Advertising is defined in Wikipedia as, "a one-way paid communication through a medium in which the sponsor is identified and the message is controlled by the sponsor." Fields that are similar to the field of advertising, and that are often used interchangeably with it, are publicity and public relations. Media that are used to convey the message include TV, radio, the Internet, billboards, magazines and newspapers.
The field of advertising can be difficult to get into as jobs are in great demand and there are numerous talented and creative people waiting to get them. Advertising is rewarding, but it is also hard work, the hours are long, with a lot of overtime, working on weekends is practically mandatory. There is also untold stress as deadlines loom, ideas are rejected or projects fold. But for many people the creative expression alone is worth all the difficulties that are encountered. When all the crying is done, there is also the pride of seeing your work in magazines or on television.
If you are looking for a way to break into the fast-paced world of advertising, here are a few pointers on how to go about it:
Intern: many advertising agencies view their interns as potential employees. Interning will also enable you to see what really goes on in an advertising agency. You will work in different departments and thus be able to determine where in advertising you would like to work, or if you would still like to work in the field at all. It is important to speak up and let your enthusiasm be known so that you can display your talents to the best advantage and gain as much as possible out of the internship.
Start at the bottom. No one ever starts out in the business world with a nice office and some big name clients handed to him or her on a plate, unless there is nepotism involved. It is important to realise that you will have to earn your place in the company, taking an entry-level position and working your way up just like everybody else. If you feel that you are doing good work that is going unrecognised, you can always look at it as experience gained and use it to find a job elsewhere.
Freelancing is a great way to get into the business if you're a copywriter or graphic designer. It allows you to come up with your own unique campaign to advertise yourself, you can set your own rates and by approaching small businesses you can build a reputation for yourself before you approach any large agencies or companies.
SPEC ADS are your version of an ad that has already be published. You may not like the way a particular ad is written, or designed, or you may not like its jingle. In creating a SPEC AD, you rewrite it, redesign it or rewrite the lyrics or music to the jingle. You might even decide to rework some ad in your local paper. SPEC ADS should be included in your portfolio if you have no previous advertising experience as they give some indication of your creativity and talent.
Contact radio and television stations, considering that many employ people especially to write advertisements. Getting a job writing these adverts would be an excellent start in the advertising industry. Unfortunately these jobs aren't that highly paid and there's a high employee turnover rate. However, the opportunity presented to gain experience and break into the field is well worth it.
Schooling and learning as much as you can about the advertising industry is very important, especially if you're serious about working in an agency. The Internet has many courses on advertising and enormous amounts of information on advertising available for anyone to make use of.
Introduce yourself. This is a good idea, if you're looking for something along the creative side of advertising. Write a letter of introduction to the Creative Director of an agency. It should be written in a friendly, but professional tone and should include a short bio. Don't just address the letter "To whom it may concern," as that is very impersonal. Use the Director's name and be sure to spell it properly. Make sure you know whether the Director is male or female if the name is ambiguous. You can follow up your letter in a few weeks with another letter or you can give the Director a call, but remember, don't cold call them first. It can be very annoying when you're busy trying to keep on top of things and a stranger phones out of the blue to introduce themselves on the off chance that you have a job for them.
Networking is when you take advantage of opportunities to meet people who are actively involved in the industry. Local advertising clubs, or even agencies themselves often sponsor special events, educational seminars and professional workshops. It is important to attend these events, mingle, be sociable, show interest and meet people who could turn out to be your next employer.
Work in sales. While there's undoubtedly a big difference between advertising and sales, the experience of working at any retail outlet, dealing with accounts and people, may help you to bridge the gap between having no experience at all and working in an agency.
Enthusiasm. Being passionate about working in advertising means that when you see adverts on television or in magazines, and you had nothing to do with them, you think, "I could have a much better job than that!" Being passionate also means that you don't mind long hours, late nights and sacrificing your weekends to the job. If you can convey that kind of enthusiasm and passion in your interview, chances are that you'll remind the interviewer of why he or she got into the business in the first place. Passion and enthusiasm and a willingness to learn also make up for a lack of experience.