Tuesday, January 25, 2011


By: Olivia Errasti

   5 months. That’s how long I’ve been involved in the advertising industry. Just FIVE months. When I first started – and some would say I am still just starting, though I beg to differ given the bevy of mistakes I have made that have forced me to learn faster than an Army recruit facedown in the mud, while an officer is yelling, “You’re a pansy!” But back to my point…when I first started, I was wide-eyed, slightly intimidated, and almost entirely ignorant.
   Starting at VSBrooks Advertising during their peak season, I was thrust into the whirlwind of constant client requests, publication due dates, and media plan adjustments on a daily hourly basis. Tack on the fact that I was starting from ground zero and you have a recipe for a royal clusterfudge.

So, seen through the eyes of a newb, I bring you lessons I have learned about advertising as an account coordinator at VSBrooks:
1) Don’t you DARE miss that double space!
   As account coordinator, the bulk of my duties involve proofreading. Not for one moment while I was in grade school did I think that there would be a real-life, day-to-day application for my secret pleasure of correcting grammar, syntax, and content. But my secret pleasure for proofreading has become a curse. I want to be the one that catches all the errors, feeling a sense of victory every time I strike through a word repeated twice or put a “#” where a space was forgotten. I’m sure by now you’re thinking, “This girl is so weird she probably hasn’t had a boyfriend since OJ Simpson decided that a white Ford Bronco was the perfect getaway car.” But in my defense, I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels this way about proofreading. Otherwise, my coworkers and I would not geekily say to each other “Good catch!” when a particularly inconspicuous error is caught.
Moral: I never thought playing scrabble by myself would pay off, but my zeal for concise, grammatically correct writing has been an integral part of my early (however minimal) success.

2) Check yo’ self before you wreck yo’ self.
   You know in school when teachers tell you to always double-check your work so much that it makes you NOT want to check it? Well, they’re right. I consider myself an intelligent individual with plenty of common sense. I graduated top 10 of my class in high school and have a BA from Boston College. Before you say STFU and stop gloating, I’ve made some of the dumbest mistakes because of not double-checking my work. Mistakes so dumb they make a sea cucumber look like Isaac Newton.

Lessons learned from the myriad mistakes I’m referring to:

· Double-check your e-mail subject lines and make sure they match the content of the e-mail.

BODY: Dear Client, we are working diligently on the flyer for the Center’s grand opening this weekend…

· Double-check the jargon of your profession so that you’re not talking to the client about a header when you mean to be talking to them about a call-to-action.
· Double-check to make sure you really don’t have records of a document before you ask a coworker three different times to forward an e-mail to you.
· Lastly, but most importantly, ALWAYS CHECK WHO IS CC’D IN AN E-MAIL. This particular one infuriated a peer to the point that she said with deadpan expression and questionable sarcasm, “I wanted to dangle you by your ankle from the edge of the roof of this building”.

Moral: It’s worth your time to double-check your work before you send it, rather than spending twice as much time fixing your mistake (and worrying about whether or not you can make it after falling 12 stories).
3) Your skin better be thicker than Aretha Franklin’s waistline.
   You see the people you work with day in and day out. Every one has an off day. As one of the least confrontational people you’d ever meet who works with some of the most upfront people you’d ever meet, dealing with people’s off days and sometimes-justified bad moods was an immediate dilemma.
   Being in account services and working directly with clients, I’ve also gotten a mouthful from the client. My first month I was sheltered and thus blissfully believed every one was all about candy canes, puppies, and rainbows. In my second and third month in the advertising world, the veil came off and I was a deer caught in headlights. I cringed every time I heard a shout from the other end of the office, “Oliviaaaa!!” Every time I would think to myself “WTH did I do now? Why am I always being called out?” However, during the last two months I have realized, the tone in people’s voice when they say or request something, the snappy comments – they’re not personal. Every one is here to work and get the job done right.
Moral: A coworker may be upset in the moment and mostly it’s because they don’t want to get an earful from the client. It is not the end of the world. Chances are, they will just as quickly be over it. And if not, swallow your pride and apologize. No use pulling a Dick Cheney and making your colleague apologize to YOU after you’ve shot them in the face.


  1. LOL, Olivia this is wonderful. You hang in there and you will soon see that you will know everything there is to know about an Ad Agency. When I first started in the business in 1986 "back in the dinosaur age", when typewriters were your best friend, I was the receptionist (by the way the best place to start because it's the front of the company). I slowly was given the opportunity to move ahead

    If you love this kind of work all will fall in it's place. There will be very tough moments but the reward in the long run will be worthwhile. So dear keep at it, you are a very bright and lovely lady and by the way...I really think you should consider in writing a book one day, maybe a comedy love story because you have the potential to do so. I know I would be the first to buy your book.

  2. Great Article. I learned the hard way about double checking your work as well. I'm glad they never dangled you over that building, I'm not sure you would've survived the fall.

  3. Lol A fall like that would definitely be a health hazard. Thank you for the kind words. I look forward to writing some more of these posts.

  4. Olivia,
    I loved this post. Don't worry you won't always be the newbie! Shared on Twitter @MumballLane

  5. Ay mija, welcome the the joys of corporate communications... you got this. And yes, double check subject lines to body of text... you throw your client off who considers her email her bible big time when you do that.