Nathanael Peacock's Diary

Nathanael Peacock  

Agency: Clemenger BBDO
Age: 24
Degree: Bachelor of Arts, 2011
University/college: Monash University
Degree 2:
Bachelor of Interactive Entertainment, 2014
University/college: SAE Creative Media Institute

Diary Entry 7 (September 2015)

This is our last week with the Clemenger Group Graduate program, it has been a massive year with the usual ups and downs and massive hurdles, but we’ve all made it through.
I am very proud of my achievement and glad that I took part in the program, because I feel like I have a really good foot in the door. I have been able to build a good reputation with the agencies around Melbourne, and I feel like my new career is off to a really solid start.

List five things you learned from the Grad Program

  • It isn’t all Mad Men – people have a lot of preconceived ideas as to what an ad agency is like. But when it comes down to it, it has been hard work, it has been exciting, frantic, and scary. The one thing that you can count on is that every day is different.
  • You need to stay on your toes – I have said that every day is different, but you really need to be prepared for that. To-do lists are your best friend, but every now and then they will get thrown out the window when it is all hands on deck.
  • Every agency is different – I have worked in three starkly different agencies, so much so that they could almost be different industries. Skills carry over, but they all have very practical focuses.
  • Learn the lingo – every agency has phrases, lines and acronyms that keep everything running. It could be learning to tell a WIP document from a JCR, but learning how people speak and what they mean in a very creative industry is crucial to getting things done.
  • Work fast, work well – this week I have written 14 articles, these are all going up online to be spread around the world by our clients. I’ve written about everything from solar power to small business. This may be a particularly busy week, but you really need to know when to move your feet.

Provide three tips for other junior execs thinking about joining the program

  • Be yourself – everyone has something unique that makes them different and exciting. Don’t try to be what you think everyone is expecting. Just be yourself.
  • Nerves are your friend – I love my nerves, I’ve performed on stage, on radio, on TV, in video games and now worked in advertising. Things are still scary, but you can use that energy to help you push through and succeed.
  • Be interesting – this may seem counter to the ‘be yourself’ point, but if you are a graduate, there are a hundred other people out there with the same degree as you, stand out from the crowd!

What has surprised you/anything unexpected about the industry, the people, the culture?
Agency life is a lifestyle, you learn new things about the advertising industry that your other friends wouldn’t even think of. Soon you will start thinking differently, really breaking down and analysing anything you read and see, and you will always be looking for ways to make it better.

Do you think differently as a consumer now, to how you did before…now that you’re on the ‘inside’?
Absolutely nothing happens accidentally, the font on billboards, the colour on walls, the types of shoelaces worn by actors. Everything coming out of the advertising world is meticulously planned and edited to make the best impression and to get results. It is attention to detail in the truest sense.

So since this is my last diary entry, I wanted to say thanks to anyone who has been reading these over the past year. I hope that if any of you are thinking about a career in advertising or communications, that this has given you a good insight into breaking into the industry.

Have a great year everyone!

Diary Entry 6 (July 2015)

How has your experience progressed since your last submission?

My experience since my last diary entry has been flipped on it’s head, again. That is because I am now three weeks into my final placement in the Clemenger Group Graduate Program. Since my last entry I have finished my time at Porter Novelli and started working with CHE Proximity. Finishing at Porter Novelli was a bit sad, because I did really enjoy my work there, but it was fun handing over all of my work and showing the others what I have been doing.
The biggest change for me is that I am not working in account service at CHE, I am working with a team called The Newsroom. The Newsroom is in essence a content creation team, writing websites, EDMs, blog posts, social strategies and anything and everything around online persona. This experience came about because of my history in journalism and writing, but mostly because I set up a meeting before I started and spoke to one of the managers about my experience and what I wanted to get out of the rotation. I wouldn’t usually be so bold, but I thought that since it is my last rotation I might as well try to get something new out of it.
So far it is a really different experience, especially when – since this is essentially a creative team – an account service person handed me a brief. It was strange because two weeks ago I was writing the briefs, and it was really interesting to see from the other side and look at what worked and what was missing. But the other side of that is that this new team is very specialized and very highly skilled, it is mostly a team of writers and editors, with a few producers thrown in. So for me it has been a matter of proving that I can be as efficient and as effective in my writing as they are, I feel like it is coming along well.

List some key learnings and challenges

CHE Proximity is completely different to the other agencies that I have been placed at. Firstly it is the first time that I have actually been working in advertising, since I worked in experiential marketing with Traffik, then PR with Porter Novelli. But beyond that the office is also the largest by an order of magnitude, it covers two levels of the office tower in South Yarra, with departments each bigger than my previous agencies, covering TV, digital, print, creative, account service and more. So the biggest challenge for me, on top of working in a new team is working in a huge agency. As one of the specialized teams I have been working on eight or nine different accounts, each with their own teams of account service people. It has been a challenge just to get to know everyone and learn who works on which account! But I do enjoy the variety, it is great to meet new people all of the time and work out all of the really unique jobs that everyone fills. At this end of the program I am really starting to think about where I want to end up next year. Although I have a few ideas (secret ideas), I do feel like there are a lot of different options coming out of these nine months, and I am looking forward to what comes next.

Diary Entry 5 (June 2015)

This week is my last week with Porter Novelli as part of the Clemenger Group Graduate Program. After Friday we have a week off (in case you are wondering, look up relaxation in the dictionary), then I will start my next rotation with CHE Proximity. Last week I caught up with one of the managers at CHE to get an idea of what I might be working on, and that just further proved to me that although people may have the same title, in this industry their jobs can be entirely different. I’ll let you know how it goes in a month, but it will be a whole new experience. The last weeks have been exciting, and interesting, I have continued to throw myself into PR. I’m still not fond of cold calling people, but after getting some good news coverage and even a front page piece in a rural newspaper, it has gotten easier. This last month has been a lot of social and digital work for me, which I have found very rewarding. I have started to realise just how much finesse goes into social network marketing, and how the right post at the right time can make a massive difference to a campaign. 

Key learnings and challenges:

My biggest job over the last month has been website and social management, this came about solely because I have worked with websites previously, but it was great to be really useful to my team. We have been overhauling a web page and social accounts for a large client with new images, new branding, new events and new sponsors. Admittedly, it turned out being a much bigger job than we realized, and the website in question was not the easiest to work with. However, I put in the time and the effort to help get my head around its eccentricities, as well as working quite closely with the web developers on the client side. The experience of working with full time web developers has been humbling, but very interesting, and I feel like I have learned a lot in that short time. It has shown me how people can really specialize, knowing that if I were here again this experience would give me a leg up on the next project. The other side of that experience is that my time here is nearly done, so the last few days have been handing over my projects and teaching others in the team how to do what I have been doing. This has been very interesting for me, mapping out the places where I made mistakes and writing a cheat sheet of sorts. It is strange to leave projects that I have been working on for a while, but I know that I have done good work and I am leaving it in a better state than I found it.

Diary Entry 4 (May 2015)

Honestly, this month has been one of the busiest of my new working life. Working within the Clemenger Group Graduate Program has been an exercise in coordination, determination and drive. I feel like my knowledge and my determination are tested every day, and I am relishing the opportunity to prove that I belong in this industry. Working with Porter Novelli is entirely different to anything else I have experienced thus far, although I had some idea of how a PR agency works from my time as a journalist, I have been impressed to see how diverse the workload is and just how much affect this agency has on the news and the media. This month my biggest challenges have been coordinating the social media, and website operations for a number of state government events. This has been a strange mix of creativity and bureaucracy. All of the content that we plan to use on websites or social pages needs to be checked and approved by a number of people in the government; this often leads to many changes and a lot of revising. That being said I have taken this as a bit of a challenge, learning the communal voice of my clients and their organizations, learning how they talk to their public and trying to get content signed off without changes. This has taken some time, but I do notice myself getting better at it every week or so. I have also been quite useful this month with the website work, as I have done some web programming in the past. It’s funny how those odd little experiences become useful eventually.

This rotation with the Clemenger Group Graduate Program and Porter Novelli has taught me that I do have some things to work on. Mostly that I don’t like picking up the phone and cold calling people. Doing media follow ups and checking in with journalists is a big part of working with the media in PR. I noticed this quite early on when I was given a very long list of journalists to call about press release that had been sent out. I let my grad buddy know that I wasn’t too confident with making all of these calls, she helped me out and gave me some tips, then she gave me more calls to make the week after. It struck me that even though it is something that I am not confident with, it is still something that I need to get better at rather than resting on the things that I am already good at. This last month has tested me quite a lot, and I have been very busy. But I have woken up every morning and wanted to go to work. The other people in my office are all very impressive, and my big goal is to get as much work done as they do, I’m not there yet, but hopefully in the next few months.

Diary Entry 3 (April 2015)

How has your experience progressed since your last submission?
Since my last submission, things have changed quite drastically. With the Clemenger Group Graduate program, we rotate through three different agencies as opposed to spending all of our time with one. Since my last entry I have finished my rotation with Traffik Marketing and moved on to Porter Novelli. The last few days at Traffik were bitter sweet, I am immensely proud of the work that I did there, particularly in helping launch a new client in my last weeks. However, my first week with Porter Novelli has been spectacular, it truly does showcase how different each agency is from another. With Traffik, my role was a lot of event planning and management, lots of chasing suppliers, planning showcases and doing site visits. For Porter Novelli so far I have been involved in quite a lot of social media, writing blog posts for Study Melbourne, looking after Facebook pages and wrangling press releases. It really is like being a fish in a completely different pond.

I think that the thing that I was most concerned about starting in the new office was that I wouldn’t have any work right away, that I would need to spend weeks getting to know the client files and doing admin. But this has been far from the case, from my first day in the new office I have had a list of things to do, and I have been able to use the skills from my first placement and a lot of my writing history to help stay on top of the workload. I’m slowly getting to know everyone in the office, and working on a few interesting accounts. I am definitely looking forward to the coming weeks. That being said, the weekend is looking pretty enticing too.

List some key learnings and challenges
This program so far has taught me some valuable lessons in time management. I always thought that my time management was pretty good, however it just doesn’t stand up when you have twelve jobs to do in eight hours. I’ve always been the sort of person to do a job to the very best of my ability, and to push the boundaries by looking outside of the requirements. So when all of these jobs have shown up in my email or on my desk, I’ve been learning how to prioritise them, how to decide which to put first, and maybe most importantly is how to tell someone that I am busy and can’t do it right away. I’ve learnt that sometimes hitting a deadline is more important than reinventing the wheel. Sometimes, I’m still trying to reinvent the wheel.

Diary Entry 2 (March 2015)

How has your experience progressed since your last submission?
It's funny how you don't realise what you've learned until you look back. I am astonished by how much I have learnt, and how much I have achieved in the first couple of months. Since last writing, I have been to my first client meeting, managed my first budget and then managed my first campaign. It helps that I am part of a small team that needs me to step up and take charge of my own work, but it also pinpoints to me the importance of standing out, and of owning the work that you do.

The first client meeting I went to was a post analysis of a sampling campaign across 97 venues, a massive accomplishment for everyone involved, most of all my manager who fixed everything that went wrong with every one of those sessions. For me it was an opportunity to show where I can do great work. I dove head first into the numbers for a few days and tried to make sense of it as best I could. When it came time for that client meeting I was the only one who knew those numbers in and out, and I had suddenly earned my place at the table. It was a small victory, but a victory nonetheless.

Tell us about agency life.
My agency within the Clemenger Group is small, we only have seven people in our Melbourne office. But Traffik Marketing has some of the largest clients in the country including Carlton United Breweries, Mazda, Schweppes and Samsung. The result is a driven, fast paced environment where each person could work on six accounts within a day. More than anything it has taught me to multitask and compartmentalise jobs. It has honed my ability to think on my feet.

List some key learnings and challenges?
For me the biggest challenge has been finding where I can stand out in a truly unique and highly skilled working environment. I have quickly learned that in a small team, each person has a specialised role. The roles determine who goes to pitches and meetings, and who the best fit for a new account is. For me it has meant I needed to find places where I can offer something to the team that the others don't, and find the best way to showcase that.

As my first placement, this has taken some time, as I also needed to learn the ropes of how the business and accounts work, and I'm sure I have made some mistakes. But here at the end of my first rotation in the Clemenger Group Graduate Program, I do feel like I am finally adding positive value to the team.

What is one thing you wish you'd known before you sat the foundation certificate exam earlier this month?
I wish I had known it wasn't going to be as hard as I had thought. I have always felt exams have had a bad reputation, but the lessons we completed in the lead up to the exam gave us all of the tools we needed to complete it.

Reveal your personal studying / cramming secret!
Coffee, pizza and The Whitlams. Need I say more?

Diary Entry 1 (February 2015)

My name is Nathanael, and I have just finished my first month in the Clemenger Group Graduate Program. It has been one of the most stressful, surprising, funny and exciting months of my life.

What drew you to apply for The Clemenger Group Graduate Program?
The Clemenger Group Graduate Program was something I thought about applying for after finishing my first university degree. I spent the first part of my career studying and working as a freelance journalist.
The Clemenger Group Graduate Program had a bit of a legend around it at Monash, every marketing, journalism and business graduate applied for it, in case they were lucky enough to be accepted. I didn’t apply after my first degree, as I assumed the competition would be too steep. It was only when I decided straight news journalism wasn’t for me that I returned to study digital media. With two university degrees, enormous debt and quite a bit of uncertainty under my belt I took a leap of faith and applied for the 2015 Clemenger Group Graduate Program.

Briefly tell us how you found the application process?
The application process was daunting, but I thought for a while, planned, and took it one step at a time. I answered a couple of questions here and there while thinking about my video. In the end I realised I had a lot to say and not much time to say it. My solution was to write all of the reasons I should get the job on post-it notes (I ended up with nearly 50 with some padding and doubling up) then used a home green screen to project them all behind me as I spoke to the camera.
The written application was followed by an interview, I was shocked to get that far but everyone was very friendly. I later found out that the first set of questions were to test aptitude, the rest of the interview was all about me, finding out if I was the right kind of person for the job. For me it was more like a conversation than an interview.

Briefly tell us what the first month has consisted of and some of the key learnings.
After what felt like months of waiting I began my first rotation with the Clemenger Group in January. My first rotation (we rotate through three) is with Traffik Marketing, an agency best described as a kitten with the heart of a lion. There are only seven members in the Melbourne office and they handle some of the biggest clients across the busiest industries. In my first month I have worked on Schweppes, Lacoste, Treasury Wine Estates, Kids Under Cover, and a number of yet to be announced projects. It is hectic to say the least, but what strikes me is the team mentality. Everyone is efficient and driven, but always willing to help each other out. My desk is currently a mess of paper, those post-it notes that I mentioned earlier are now my life.

What have you found most challenging?
For me the biggest challenge has been rather mundane, I’ve never had a consistent work schedule. I have always worked freelance, weekends, or 2am with coffee and RedBull. This adaption has taken a while, but I think it is better this way, I do feel more stable.

What has been your favourite aspect of the program?
Honestly my favourite aspect has been going to work every day, realising my life and my future isn’t a theory anymore, I’m actually doing work that makes a difference in an industry I care about.

This is the first year that the internationally certified IPA Foundation Certificate is a compulsory part of the Graduate Program. How do you think that this will benefit you in beginning your career in the industry?
In addition to offering official accreditation the IPA Foundation Certificate gives graduates the opportunity to network, by meeting graduates from other agencies and learning more about how the industry differs overseas. I feel like this will make me a much more diverse employee than someone entering an agency at the ground level.   

I would definitely encourage anyone with an interest in advertising to apply, even if your degree is in something else. Diversity of both opinion and skill seems to keep this industry fresh.

See you next month, I have no doubt it will be interesting!