Why do I think I’ll become a successful advertising professional?

I recently wrote a post about Diversity in Advertising for my AAF Most Promising Multicultural Student application. I realized, that entry contained some of my best writing and most honest reflection (at least for having only 300 words!). The second question was such a thought-provoking subject, I’ll never be able to articulate it as clearly and honestly as I did for my application. So if you’re a hiring manager here to spy on me, welcome! And if you ask me about why I think I’ll be successful in this industry, here’s what I’d say (in 300 words or less!)

How can your skills and experience enable you to become a successful advertising professional?

Six internships, countless leadership opportunities, and indispensable mentors have helped prepare me for a career in advertising.

I tried to be intentional and strategic when I was seeking out different opportunities. Instead of having six different internships within a single specialty, I pursued opportunities across the different fields. I wanted to graduate with a background and confidence within strategy and writing but I also wanted to be articulate in the other focuses in advertising. I wanted a more holistic education. When I’m settled into my agency position, I want to be able to contribute to the other departments from a knowledgeable position. Knowing our expectations and boundaries ahead of time, in my opinion, gives me more flexibility in the creative I can produce and the suggestions I propose.

I’ve also gravitated to opportunities of leadership. In the Univ. of Tennessee’s Ad Club, I serve as the Social Media Director, but beyond that, I’ve made a personal commitment to the new members that I would support them as much as I could. I’ve taken an active leadership role volunteering at the 2016 Knoxville ADDY’s, UT Social Media Week 2016, and just recently accepted an invitation to serve on the Dean’s Undergrad Student Advisory Council.

The leaders in my life take initiative, strive to be a positive influence, and create an impact in everything they do. That is the type of leader I’d like to be as I move forward into my advertising career. I think the advertising industry is run by leaders, and I hope to fit right in.


Why is Diversity important in Advertising?

I just submitted my application to the AAF Most Promising Multicultural Student program for 2017, and man was that difficult for me! One of the portions of the application was entirely too significant for a 300 word entry. Why is diversity important in advertising? I really felt challenged to articulate my feelings, but after a lot of cliches, bad metaphors, and well-written bullsh*t, I finally found a way to say how I really felt. I’m sure in 5 minutes, 5 days, or 5 years, I’ll have something entirely different to say. I wanted to capture it today so I have something to look back on.

Why is diversity important in advertising?

Advertising is no longer about identifying features and highlighting benefits. Consumers are reaching for brands that fit into their everyday lives. Our goal as advertisers is to help the audience visualize our brand fitting seamlessly into their homes, families, and lifestyles.

To show our brands integrated into the target’s lifestyle, our message has to be as authentic as possible. We have to prove that we understand how different and unique their consumer’s lives are. That means taking the risk and incorporating diverse characters, problems, and story lines when we share our brand story. Multicultural thought leaders see life through a different lens and can draw their unique backgrounds, cultures, and knowledge. If we can see the problem or the consumer lifestyle through their eyes, we can become better storytellers for our brand. .

Companies shy away from diversity in their advertising because they consider it risky. In a time where everyone is offended by everything, no one wants to be the controversial brand. I think that’s what makes advertising unique from sources like news and media outlets.

In our industry, diversity is more natural, familiar, is flexible to meet the consumer demand for authenticity. In the news and media however, the only conversations being had about diversity are alarming, painful, high intensity, and very hard to swallow. Instead of authentic, it is controversial. Diversity shouldn’t be controversial. It’s an integral part of our everyday lives, interpersonal relationships, and decisions.

Shying away from diversity creates a barrier between brands, minority audiences, and every other consumer whose lives are rich with diversity.  With a brand story exclusive of no one, our companies are one step closer to seamlessly fitting into their audience’s life. Companies that embrace this fact replace audience barriers with consumer relationships.


Dear Young Ad Student: 15 Strategy Terms You Can Never Be Too Familiar With

Dear Young Ad Student:

No matter what focus you choose to pursue, I urge you to develop skills across the different pathways. The best copywriters have to understand the basics of strategy. The best art directors and designers have to have a respect for the account management process. Media planners and buyers need to be familiar with the the brand’s PR efforts. Even a social media savant should be in tune with the research backing the campaign. Advertising is like a foreign language with many dialects. Anything you can do to be fluent will propel you forward in your career.

With that said, I wanted to share some Planning (also known as Strategy) terminology taught by the one and only Ron Taylor (Remember the 6 Segment Strategy Wheel?) These 15 terms  just might save your life in all the coursework to come. And of course, your careers as well!

  1. Creative strategy articulation – developing message strategy based on research
  2. Tactic – A tool used to achieve strategy, based on previously made objectives
  3. Tactic Evaluation – Reviewing to see if the tactics worked
  4. Context – Perimeters to help determine meaning of things and ideas in people’s lives. Context determines meaning.
  5. Ethnography – In depth study of culture and individuals within it
  6. Reality – There are two: Individual reality and Shared realities. Reality is socially constructed
  7. Bracketing Interview – Accounts for prejudices and biases
  8. Auto-driving – Interview extension, added at the end of an interview to drive discussion further.
  9. Interview guides – 3-5 main topics that keep you on track during the interview.
  10. Emic – Participant language (insider terms)
  11. Etic – Researcher language
  12. Grounded Theory – forming of theory AFTER reviewing data
  13. Insight – Patters/Ideas gleaned from observation and behavior
  14. Account Planning – Also known as strategy, began in England in the 1950’s to ensure the consumer perspective is considered in the qualitative data
  15. What activity matters most in planning? – LISTENING!

Total Greek to you? That’s ok! Just bookmark this and remember me when you take Dr. Ronald Taylor’s Account Planning class. If you don’t get the privilege to being his student, you can still hone in on the concepts he urges us to remember as we pursue our ad careers. If you have any questions, please reach out to me! I’ll help explain the best I can (or refer you to the professors who are way smarter than I am!)


Good Luck,

Senior Ad Student, Graduating in 7 months and 09 days.






Dear Young Ad Student: Love and Work

Dear Young Ad Student,

Choose a job you love, you’ll never have to work a day in your life.choose-a-job-you-love

I don’t know if Winston Churchill, Confucious, or Abraham Lincoln said it – but they never worked in advertising. It’s an encouraging notion , but I’m sorry to say, it’s a load of bologna. I’ve loved writing since the day I could hold a crayon. I’ve written poems, songs, research papers, complex proposals, blogs, brochures, TV scripts, and radi
o spots. I adore writing – I don’t care what.

All that said, I have worked damn hard to get where I am.

I’ve worked every day in intense coursework, agency internships, volunteer positions, and even trivial part-time jobs to pay for the textbooks I work hard to read. The moment I realized I wanted to become an advertiser, that was just the beginning. I am going to work hard every day until I retire from this industry.

That’s just how this industry works. It doesn’t matter how skilled you are or how much you love your field. Advertising is run by pistols, hustlers, go-getters, and fireballs. And it doesn’t just stop with working hard – you have to work harder than the agency beside you competing for your client’s time and attention. And the moment you let up, you fall behind.

Here’s the good news:

The harder you work, the easier it becomes. Your best work is always one step ahead of you, instead of miles. You stay on the brink of your most incredible achievement – you reach it. You celebrate. And you push forward towards bigger and better things.

Plus, you’re doing what you love. Nothing beats that.

Good Luck,

Senior Ad Student, Graduating in 7 months and 17 days.


Chasing Internships and Chasing God.


I’m going to have a lot of praises to sing when I finally get that phone call.

Many of you may know that I’ve invested months of time and tears into pursuing internships this upcoming summer. I’ve learned things about myself that I never realized- how ambitious, persistent, doubtful, and impatient I can be. I’ve found support in places I never expected and watched some cracks form in relationships I never expected. Every day, something new is revealed to me.

All I need now is an opportunity revealed to me, then maybe I can calm down.

I have to admit, I’ve been eating, sleeping, and breathing Advertising. Every night I pray for God to grant me peace and patience, then every morning I get up and hustle to make it happen. I’m watching the pieces fall into place, but I really need to step back and let God do His thing. In the meantime, I just plan on thanking Him every chance I get, for my drive, for my support system, for my opportunities so far. Maybe, He’ll stand a little closer to me if the news isn’t what I’d expected.

This is Easter weekend, and instead of spending the whole weekend on LinkedIn, updating my portfolio, and sweating over an empty inbox, I’m going to try to relax. My Dad reminded me that no matter what happens, it happened the way God had planned. I need to fuel my faith first, and let Him do what He does best. He will take care of me, even when it’s dark and bleak. Even when it seems hopeless – God is full of surprises. Like resurrecting Jesus and such.

Everyone have a wonderful Easter! I love you all!


Why I Should Be in Ad Club Executive Boardmember?



So, I applied for the University of Tennessee Advertising Club Executive Board. We had to tell in 1-2 sentences why we would be suitable for the positions  (up to 3) we were pursuing. We will be holding speeches and elections, but I wanted my future club members to know where I stand for each position. So there you have it… 2 sentences or less, why do I think I have what it takes?

I would be a great president because I’m ready to go the distance to take our content, activities, and speakers to the next level. Instead of reiterating what “tools to have in your tool belt to be successful in advertising”, we should try to make sure every member has those “tools” before they graduate.

As vice president, I would strive to make the ad club a welcoming place where members and visitors are expanding their skills and network. Our job should be to elevate our members as much as possible, in confidence and professionalism.

I would be a good social media director because 90% of my personal tweets are to the @UTADPR or @utkadclub accounts promoting industry news, internship opportunities, and ad comedy. 100% of my professional tweets have brought my clients success in their categories.


Now I’m moving into presentation mode, 2 minutes for each position. Wish me luck over the next week! I have big ideas for the ’16-’17 Club

Moving Forward in Advertising

Articulating exactly what you want your future to look like – that can be incredibly difficult sometimes. In a recent seminar course, I was tasked with the challenge of laying out my path but I was surprised with how confident I became with what I pictured after graduation.

We were asked to identify three different career possibilities that blend our life passions with our advertising degree. We were to explain why each path appeals to us and how the companies chosen would help us achieve our goals. We had to think about what type of work we are drawn to, the company’s growth and reputation, culture, and also how the company fits into our long-range career goals.



It was originally the copywriting in a Purina pet food that sold me on advertising. I have always enjoyed creative writing exercises as well as creating art from all media, so a career in advertising seemed like a perfect fit. Now that I’m learning more about the industry, I’ve come upon a new challenge. It seems the likelihood of getting a job in copywriting is poor unless I go to portfolio school. My contacts within the larger agencies have all warned me that without going to Miami Ad School, Creative Circus, or VCU my portfolio will be a step below other applicants. Although I was disappointed, I realized the big ideas that spark the creative brainstorming come from the account planning department. I’m eager to learn more about this potential avenue for my future. I’ve also been encouraged to pursue content management after a yearlong internship with a digital marketing consulting firm. I’ve loved strategizing and analyzing social media efforts of big and little companies.

I’m hoping to learn as much as possible about each of the three avenues, Social Media Management, Copywriting, and Strategy. Fortunately, there are four advertising agencies that not only offer positions in these departments; they all have a reputation of positive cultures, progressive strategies, and loyal accounts. Their client rosters each have a strong presence of the industries I’m drawn to. Travel, Media and Technology, as well as Food and Beverage accounts peak my interest the most. They are all located in New York City, the advertising capitol of the world, and the place I’d like to call home.


Grey is a full-service agency known most recently for their extensive collection of Cannes Lions. Since 1917, they have been building some of the world’s most recognized brands. Their focus is to accelerate the potential of their client’s brands with powerful creative ideas across all touch points.1

Right now, they are actively expanding their strategy department, seeking a strong, quick thinker who is self-motivated, and proactively pushing ideas forward.2

They must be inquisitive, and driven to use data as a tool for creative inspiration. In order to excel in this position, I must have the confidence to juggle multiple assignments while naturally providing leadership with clients and internal teams. I’ll have to be a strong communicator and a great storyteller. I think, upon graduation, I would be a perfect candidate for this position, and I would hope to work with travel clients such as Finnair, Emirates Air, the British Council, or perhaps technology companies like Motorola, Pandora, and Cannon.3

Grey, and the guidance of my alumnus contacts within the agency, have been a huge part of my goal development. Sarah and Joey have been my trailblazers, not only for finding success in the industry, but also for fighting for opportunities while still in college. They’ve helped me set higher goals for myself and push myself harder to stand out. They encourage their brands to think similarly. If I had the opportunity to work at Grey, I would be able to push my accounts and myself forward towards insights and innovation that will ignite their brand.


Another agency with a long-standing reputation is McCann Erikson. This agency was founded in 1902 and focuses on digital communication, customer relationship management, and experimental marketing.4 I had the privilege of meeting with this agency and experiencing their culture first hand. I felt welcomed and instantly felt a genuine connection with the account managers. They were engaged and curious about my life and my plans moving forward. I can only assume their accounts are treated as well.

McCann is actively seeking a copywriter to create a central advertising direction for global campaigns. The new copywriter will uphold McCann’s believes that work must be collaborative, passionate, and creative and support diversity in order to exceed client expectations.5

My first job would be to develop and produce creative concepts through execution on assigned brands. I would be helping to determine a written expression for the advertising. I must contribute to layout and storyboard development with the creative teams and maintain quality control in every step of the process. Again, this position demands excellent storytelling skills as well as the ability to present and speak confidently. A creative portfolio will be expected, showcasing my own brand concepts and campaigns. If McCann saw this potential in me, I would like to work with food clients like General Mills, Jose Cuervo, or Nespresso. This company also has a great list of technology accounts like Microsoft, Verizon and Nikon.6


From local to global, Mcgarrybowen’s team of 800 have passionately grown brands from all categories through all channels of communication.7 Having only been founded in 2002, they have been quite successful, while still remaining a sense of humility. This quality could be felt when hearing any of the employees talk about Mcgarrybowen as a brand. They promote passionate ideas, believing in the talent and ambition within the agency, collaboration from all corners, and personal growth through mentorship and leadership. For these reasons, I would love the opportunity to be a Jr. Copywriter at Mcgarrybowen.8

The expectation for this new copywriter would be high. I would be responsible for ideas and writing for simple layouts for one or more general advertising accounts. I must be quick to adapt to different strategies and formats while being able to think across all types of media. I would have to be independent but still confident in my team building skills. It takes an extremely self-motivated, well organizes person to be a copywriter for the Mcgarrybowen accounts. I believe I have what it takes to elevate brands like Dr. Pepper Snapple Group, Kraft Heinz, Marriott International, Disney and United Airlines.9

While I think the other agencies would help me grow as an advertiser, I think Mcgarrybowen would also help me grow in character. You can tell this modest agency won’t soon lose sight of its goals. The very first prop used in their very first campaign is still sitting right in the lobby to serve as a reminder. They’ve got a lot more growing to do, and they wouldn’t have come this far without the enthusiasm and courage of their original three owners. I think being surrounded by such brilliant and successful people, who value humility would be a great example for me.


J. Walter Thompson is another globally recognized marketing communications brand that has been igniting brands since 1864. They produced the first ever TV commercial in 1939 and have only maintained that reputation for leading edge content.10

They creative pioneering solutions that build enduring brands and business by adopting a unique set of principles. The 4 C’s: curiosity, collaboration, capability and courage best embody the traits of the agency, the work they produce, and the aspects they seek in new hires. They are looking to grow their Social Media Managers, particularly in San Francisco, but I could potentially relocate to New York after proving to be an asset to the agency.11 My job would be to produce content for publication to the company website and social media platforms. Between content creation, maintenance, and editing, I would be helping elevate their brands across the digital plane. I would be distributing information for email blasts, newsletters, and databases as well.

Whether in New York or San Francisco, I would feel right at home within the culture of the agency. They encourage teamwork, inquisitiveness, the pursuit of new knowledge, and the realization that the difficult solution could be the best. I was personally very concerned with the collaboration aspect across departments. I was afraid if I committed to strategy, I would never be able to contribute a creative idea again. They reassured me that great ideas come from all corners of the agency.12

These agencies aren’t just global leaders or industry icons; they are groups of people who love what I love. They all show a genuine appreciation for their employees as well as their clients. You can tell because some of these accounts have been loyal for decades, and some of these executives have tried to leave but keep coming back. It takes passion, extraordinary work, sincere relationships, and enthusiasm for improvement to have such retention. I’d be lucky to work with any of these agencies, and I hope to contribute to the next Lion winning campaign.





























6 AdWords Articles That Taught Me Everything I Know.


Everything I know… Which is NOT MUCH.

But hey, I’m 3 campaigns in and I’m hanging in there. Basically, I’ve been flailing across the internet seeking out best practices for keyword quality score, ad groups, and high click-through-rates…. when all along I couldn’t tell you the difference between a keyword, a +keyword, a [keyword] and a -keyword.

Fortunately, I’ve had some amazing coaching from Mark Schaefer. (Boss) and the amazing folks at Exigo Digital Marketing (Hey Alan!). I’m really starting to get the hang of this! Still getting traction, but at least I’ve got some confidence now!

So, I’ve saved a few of the most helpful articles – for all you budding AdWord managers out there. Cheers to not flailing.

Match Type:

6 Things You Always Wanted To Know About AdWords Match Types (But Were Afraid To Ask)

AdWords Match Types: What Are Keyword Match Types & How Should You Use Them?

Competition: 3 Amazing Tools to Analyze Your AdWords Competition (#2 SAVED ME!) 

 p.s. OF COURSE NOT! I did not save these sites for my own reference next campaign..  psh. This isn’t all for my own personal gain. I’m TOTALLY here for you. 

How to be the World’s Greatest Marketing Intern (His Words, Not Mine)

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by Phoebe Spooner, {grow} Community Member

From one {grow}-ling to another, I’m here to share what I’ve learned in the past five months as a young professional in the cut-throat internship world. My name is Phoebe and I am Mark’ Schaefer’s intern. Mark offered me this opportunity after my sophomore year at the University of Tennessee. I was young, inexperienced, and believe it or not, studying in an entirely different field of communication. Mark saw my content marketing potential buried below my creative advertising shell, and thus I became Phoebe, the Amazing Intern (His Words, Not Mine).

Now, I know there’s a huge community of young professionals that follow{grow}. I thought it would be cool to share a few tips on how to walk away the most employable intern you can possibly be.

1. Hit the ground running

It may take some time finding your place in the food chain, but the best way to start is to dive in.

The first few weeks can be intimidating because you aren’t sure what’s expected of you. The best way to overcome this is to exceed their expectations, or at least try. For me, I had to spend some quality time getting acquainted with Excel, but Mark was kind enough to sit down and go over the basics for me. Just a few months later, I’m crafting the finest tables in my advanced courses at school.

2. Reach out to predecessors

At Mark’s suggestion, I contacted Mark’s previous intern, and she has been a goldmine for suggestions and support–especially when I was just getting started. After one reply, Brittany’s email reassured me that I was in the right place, and with hard work, this team would help me grow and keep growing.

3. Be 100% transparent

Whatever you do, don’t lie about your abilities. Do you know why? Because they can’t teach you until they know what to teach. The goal is to communicate at every step of the way. Your concerns, road bumps, and even the little victories. You’ll get more out of your time, and your company will get more out of you.

4. Cultivate an arsenal of new skills (besides getting coffee)

At the University of Tennessee, they encourage students to only pursue internships that will challenge you in your field of study. That means unless your field is the coffee industry, you should be doing more than making coffee runs.

You should walk away from your experience with an arsenal of new skills that will help you stand out. If your internship isn’t providing you chances to learn and grow, you should fight for more exposure to the skills you’ll need in your next phase.

5. Don’t beat yourself up.

This one hits home for me. I’m still learning that I’ve got a lot more mistakes to make before I’m the best intern I can be. Mistakes can be hard to face, but you’re surrounded by people who are invested in your progress and success. Don’t take it too hard when they’re honest with you.

6. Represent your company at all times.

Maybe it’s just the industry, but I’m very conscientious of how powerful making a good impression can be. Because you’re an extension of your team, you’ve got to maintain a level of professionalism on and off the clock. Whether I’m joining Mark on a client call, or I’m touching base with remote team members, I try to remember that I’m a part of the company dynamics. I’m a part of the success puzzle.

Do you have any other tips for a successful internship? Share them in the comments below!

phoebe-spoonerPhoebe Spooner is a blossoming creative advertiser and blogger with a passion for digital marketing. She is currently studying at the Univeristy of Tennessee and working as Mark Schaefer’s intern. After graduation, she aspires to be an art director, copywriter, or director of content ignition.


This post was written as part of the Grow community for BusinessesGrow. which provides businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become better marketers. I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program as an intern, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don’t necessarily represent BusinessesGrow’s positions, strategies or opinions. BusinessesGrow had  final editorial control of this content.
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12 Most Tweetable Quotes from Mark Schaefer’s Campus Takeover

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This week, my director got to see the Intern in her natural habitat. Mark was coming to speak to a class of seniors here at UTK, and was kind enough to let me tag along. I’m just a junior, so in my attempt to seem as cool as possible for the big kids – I live tweeted the whole thing!

In case you missed it, Here are some Mark‘s most tweetable quotes from the lecture. You can find them all on Twitter #schaefergoestoschool (or of course you could follow me at @Vivalaphoebz)

  1. Content has zero economic value unless people see it and share it.
  2. People share content because they want to look relevant.
  3. A Like is a wave at your content, like a pat on the head. Sharing is standing up and announcing that you believe in it.
  4. The 4th Epoch will be the Epoch of Fun. #immersion 
  5. Who is your alpha audience? Do you know who is sharing your content? Who is advocating your brand in this crowd?
  6. Are you doing everything you can to eliminate obstacles to having your content shared?
  7. Coschedule is a great resource for measuring the success of your blog headlines.
  8. Klout score is a relative measure of your ability to move content.
  9. How to stand out in the crowd? Be more human  
  10. Twitter is not about mentions and hashtags. There’s an underlying human pulse. Its about connections
  11. Don’t wait for someone to pick you. Pick yourself.

(And My Personal Favorite)

12. How do you win in this world of information density? A badass strategy.  

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Thank you to Dr. Childers for letting me sit in on the class! It was great to meet everyone! And a special shout out to the only student in class who participated in my first attempt at a live tweet.

Courtesy of @JulzCesar


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