On Friday, September 22, a mix of Advertising Club students and PRSSA students made the trip out to the lovely city of Holland to gain some insight on the everyday work that happens inside agencies.
The first stop was at Next Creative Co., one floor above OUR Brewing co, with a gorgeous view of downtown Holland. We were greeted inside by Tim Hackney, partner, and creative director for Next. We also met with Katy Johnson, content manager and writer, as well as Amber Grey, account manager in charge of graphic design and social media.
In our time inside the cool, modern loft, we learned that the company is only five months old. We also learned about the many clients Next is working for, including Alpen Rose, Montecito Beach Village, Saginaw Valley State University, Heritage Community of Kalamazoo, and more.
Next Creative Co showed us an amazing ad campaign they made for Heritage Community that tore at our heart strings. You can watch the videos here.
When asked what some of their strategies were for coming up with inspiration, the team replied: “always go on location. Break into teams and present to each other. Use the information given to you from your client, and always do research.” This is exactly what the team did while working for their client Montecito Beach Village. They flew out to the gorgeous paradise in Mexico and shot videos for commercials and took photos for an inspiration booklet.
Check out the most recent PR Hangover Podcast to hear more about Next Creative Co., and if you ever find yourself in their office, make sure to say hi to their taxidermy cat, Cheez-Its.
Next, we walked a few blocks away to Fairly Painless. This funky agency houses about twenty employees. If you check their website, you may notice their unusual head-shots, which have animals replacing their heads. Ryan Lockwood, creative director, told us they had all picked out their own animal as well as something in the photo that represents them; they had a lot of fun with it.
Lockwood also shared that they make more video work than other agencies and that short mediums are becoming more important because of viewers’ short attention spans.
One of the clients Fairly Painless works with is HopCat. They have made some hilarious videos with a character they call the “Inappropriate Cat” which they shot themselves in Chicago and used their own employees to voice. They also hung up mock lost cat posters around the windy city with pull off tabs for free crack fries. Some of their other clients include Fox Motors, Staples, Yale, and Family Fare. Fairly Painless has also worked with Haworth, who was our next destination on our agency tour.
One student asked, “what are some ways to set yourself apart when applying for a job in this industry?” To this Lockwood replied with his personal preference: “do not email me.” He said that he wants to see things. He wants people to create something and mail it to him. He wants to see your personality and see what interesting things you do in your free time. “Show me what’s different about you.”
Our final stop of the tour was at the awe-inspiring Haworth facility where we met with Julie Smith, the public relations manager. The building is between 200 and 300 thousand square feet and has a very flexible workplace make-up. Haworth is a private global furniture manufacturer which creates functional work, home, and outdoor furniture. Their entire building is a showroom for clients, and all offices have an open floor plan.
One of the beautiful and sophisticated chairs we saw around the offices was their new Fern chair. It was put on the market in June of 2016 and featured in Wired Magazine as one of the top five office chairs.
Although it was still a workday when we were touring the offices, I noticed there were very few employees there at work. Smith commented on this and said it is more important when work gets done than where it gets done. Employees at Haworth are welcomed to get their work done from home if that means it is getting done on time, and that is what most workers chose to do on that Friday. Julie Smith also shared with us that there is no typical day for her.
Even though Haworth is an overwhelmingly large company, Smith told us “I like being part of the culture of what I’m working with” and that she has found her home here.
A huge thank-you to these three agencies for taking the time out of their work days to show us a glimpse of what it is like to work in the field. We all learned a lot, and it gave many of us an idea of where we would like to work after graduation and how to land a job there.
Delaney MacKenzie is a sophomore at Grand Valley. She is an Advertising and Public Relations major with an emphasis in Advertising. Delaney is also an account executive in GrandPR. She was most excited to join GrandPR because she wants to have real life experience and to see firsthand what she could be doing in her career in the future. In her free time, Delaney can be found in record shops, looking for classic tracks to add to her collection, or painting on canvas in her apartment.