Wednesday, July 29, 2009

How to find the media biz action


How often have you read a report of a media conference or party and you think to yourself, “Rats! I should have been there, if only I’d known about it.” You look at the photos of the attendees – they’re people you would like to get to know, who work at firms that could so benefit from your skills and experience. But you didn’t know it was happening - so you were left to read the reports, look at the pictures and update your LinkedIn page hoping that someone would find you.

You don’t have to get left out again. There are several sites that can clue you in to what is happening where you are. Start out at Mashable for Social Media events across the country. For film biz get-togethers check out The San Diego Media Communications Association.

“Online sites are great at easily keeping in touch and updating a ton of contacts,” says Gary Sharma, the man behind business events calendar GarysGuide. “However meeting and networking in person is absolutely critical, as that is where some of the best relationships get formed, deals get done, partnerships get forged, hires get made, alliances get built.”

Sharma’s list lists “conferences, un-conferences, forums, workshops, seminars, meetups, tweetups, mixers, parties and more.” A quick look reveals a panel in New York entitled Media In Crisis - Is There a Way Out?, a free Internet Marketing meet-up in Minneapolis and an interactive games conference in Cologne, Germany.

When I asked him why people typically attend these events, Sharma responded, “The program content is typically always very useful. But it is the brainstorming-style discussions around the content and networking with your peers in the industry that can be particularly invaluable.”

Sharma told me that GarysGuide is used by “an astonishingly wide gamut of people in business: C level execs, Managers, VCs, Investors, Entrepreneurs, Marketing/PR folks, technologists, analysts, bloggers etc. Everyone uses it in different ways. Some are looking for conferences, while others for social events/parties/mixers, while yet others are more interested in workshops and seminars.”

So now there’s no need for you to be left out. Wherever you are in the world you too can have the inside track on what is happening and where and when - and next time it’ll be you in those photos!

Michael Pollock is President of Pollock Spark ( He is an Executive Coach and Consultant to Creative and Media professionals. He works with people in film, TV, advertising, design, marketing, music and the Internet, bringing them the experience, techniques and inspiration to take their businesses and careers to new levels of success.

© 2009 Pollock Spark

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Monday, July 20, 2009

Coaching creative pros - I talk to mediabistro

I spoke recently to mediabistro about career transitions and coaching - here is a taste of that interview. More to follow over the next weeks. I was speaking with the excellent Gretchen Van Esselstyn.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Please be happy in your work

Talking to an accomplished creative leader recently it was clear that he is not happy in his work. He admitted as much. I feared a downward spiral would begin.

I encouraged him, as I encourage you, to find whatever in your work that is fun and rewarding - make an effort to find it and develop it. Find the flow. If you can't find it, then it is time to move on.

I once stayed too long in a miserable job - for the income. I was depressed. I got physically sick. It hurt me and it hurt my family. And clearly I cannot have been doing a good job. Moving on was absolutely the best outcome. Absolutely. It was a revelation.

If you can't find it in you to enjoy it - get out. At once. And do something you like.

Okay. End of rant. We can talk about it if you like.

Productive tweeting

Despite Mr Demi Moore, Twitter has become a hugely valuable networking and researching tool. Media and creative people are all over it.

Think of it as one big cocktail party, but at this one you can sort out who you are interested in talking to - or just eavesdropping on - before you go in.

The important thing is to be pro-active and have an idea of what or who you are looking for - don't just watch the tweets go by. And of course be open to stumbling on people and stuff you never thought of.
I recommend using Twellow ("the twitter yellow pages") to search for people in the industry niche you're interested in. Search on job descriptions: TV executive, or designer, or ad director. Search on "creative director jobs" and see what you get. Search on marketing director or search the name of a firm you think is interesting. Get narrower and search on "design, Cincinnati". You can search tweets and on people's profiles. Decide whether to follow them. Then interact with them. Cross reference them on LinkedIn. The most important thing is to be there and see where you fit in.

Once you've got your follows in shape - get with Mr Tweet and have him pick more people you should know. And get in there.

There is a good guide for how to tweet so that people can find you. You can find it here. But you are in the creative biz - you will find your own way to use the tools and tweak the results.

And remember if you start your twittering day with a goal you have a better chance of it being productive.

What are you working on?

It's hard for many creative people to talk about their own work. But if you know what you are good at - and you truly are excited by it - you can usually make a compelling case to someone else that it is worthy of their attention.

But to talk about what you are good at in the abstract can be really tough. I suggest that you always have an answer to the question: "What are you working on right now?" You should always have a project on the go - if only because you are pushing your limits, or trying something new or just plain driven. It can be a commissioned project or it can be something you are doing for yourself - just have something going on at all times that moves you.

If your project is a work that you truly care about then you will enthrall me with your description of what it is - how it works - what it's going to look like - how you are going about it - whatever aspect of it is on your mind.

This will serve the dual purpose of keeping your creative juices flowing and giving me, and others, a way to understand you and your thinking and your point of view. I always get the best answers from people when I ask them "What are you working on right now?." A specific answer can speak so much more eloquently than a general philosophical answer. (Though you absolutely do need to understand the foundation of what drives you and what your work represents - get in touch and we can talk about that if you like)

If you don't have an answer right now to "What are you working on?" - well that must be because you are just starting something new - so in fact you do have an answer don't you! It's never too late to start.

I'm writing for Cynopsis

I talked recently with Gary Sharma and Max Ramirez - two stalwarts of the networking business - and learned from them how industry meetups and conferences can have a real impact on your career or business.

These stories are set to debut in the next few weeks, not here, but in Cynthia Turner's invaluable daily newsletter for the TV industry,

Look in Cynopsis: Classified Advantage and you will find more actionable advice and my answers to readers' questions. Cynopsis has more than 100,000 subscribers in over 25 countries; which, it may surprise you to learn, is larger even than Sparkings!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Ad Ages the average age of a general (advertising) agency creative person is 28. And nationally, less than 5% of agency personnel are over the age of 50.

No-one says it's easy

I spoke to a senior ad exec yesterday who told me about various clients of hers who have lost their jobs. She does what she can to help them find something else of course. She referred one to a long-time, trusted colleague.

His response was that if it was for herself, he would do anything that he could possibly do to help, but this market is so tight, he had to draw the line at helping the friends of friends. There just isn't enough to go around.

So how should we react to this? As Max Ramirez of Digital Wednesdays, the networking group, told me, "2010 will reward the tenacious."

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Inspiration and perspiration and the brothel

"Genius is one percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration." So said Thomas Alva Edison.

And Picasso is a case in point. His amazing picture Les Demoiselles d'Avignon changed art for ever. He trumped Matisse, who was the king of the art world at the time, and according to W'pedia it is "a seminal work in the early development of both Cubism and modern art."

I had thought that he "just came up" with it - the old creative insight, who-can-explain-it, genius thing. But I have been put straight by a fascinating BBC documentary.

Now I know this was no quick revelation, Picasso had filled a notebook with over 700 sketches for this work. That's right: SEVEN HUNDRED sketches. Additional characters came and went (a sailor and a medical student both bit the dust), colors changed, lines and design were tried out. This was a very carefully considered piece.

Oh and Picasso didn't call it Les Demoiselles d'Avignon. He called it The Brothel. So what's in a name? Is the name part of the work? But that is another topic.

Okay guys - get perspiring, whip out those notebooks and let's see what your inspiration is made of!