I had the opportunity to be introduced to Mr. Tim Cecere of GroupM at an advertising careers expo in NYC. I sat in on Tim’s presentation to an audience of over 40 individuals interested in career opportunities in advertising.
Tim’s presentation was very inspirational, knowledgeable and gave everyone in the audience the feeling that they too can be successful in the advertising business. The presentation was so good that the line to speak to Tim after his presentation went well outside the door of the conference room. Tim is a very passionate person and he clearly loves the business. He gave everyone a clear road map on how to think about and act on their dream to work in advertising especially in the career of becoming a media planner. He highlighted that media planners are responsible for selecting the media to use for placing advertisements on behalf of their clients. The main goal of a media planner is to assist clients in achieving their business objectives by recommending the best media platforms to engage targeted consumers and generate the maximum return on investment from clients’ media budgets. Media planners strive for more than just reach of an ad. They strive for interactivity and engagement of the reader.
Their roles may include analyzing target audiences, writing “points of views”, tracking analytics, keeping abreast of media developments, following market and media trends and understanding motivations of consumers. Media planners do not create the advertisements. They develop a plan for the best use of them.
Tim talked about his background which began with the New York Times in the early 1980’s, supporting the publishing and classified advertising teams. He then moved to an HR Manager role at Newsweek Magazine, where he learned magazine and print advertising. In 1989, Tim went to Ogilvy & Mather where he learned the complete inner workings of a full service advertising agency. He spent the next 11 years at Ogilvy and in 2000 Tim joined GroupM where he has held various regional and global HR Director roles. Tim focuses his attention on the development and strategic positioning of all HR and Talent Management initiatives across this global media agency. Enjoy my one on one interview with Mr. Tim Cecere.
Roger: How did you get started in the media business?
Tim: I had been working at Ogilvy & Mather for about 12 years when one day the CEO asked me if I wanted to become the HR Director for a new company called Mindshare. Mindshare was fairly unknown in North America at the time so I asked, what is Mindshare? He said it’s this media thing and I should go meet with Irwin Gotlieb, who was the global CEO of Mindshare at the time, and he would explain it to me. I met with Irwin and asked him why I should consider Mindshare. He asked me three or four questions. The first question he asked was if I watched television? I said yes. He then asked me what my favorite show was. I said NYPD BLUE. He asked if I like the suits that Jimmy Smits wears in the show. I said I did. Irwin then put this to me: “How would you like to be watching NYPD BLUE, take your remote control, freeze the show, click on the suit and find out who makes it, what colors it comes in, what it costs, have your tailored specifications and your credit card information in your set top box, order it with a click of the remote, have it delivered to your house in one or two days and press another button to continue watching the show?” I said that would be very cool, and he said that’s why you should come to Mindshare. At that point I was hooked. That was my introduction to the media business and many of the things that Irwin described back in 2000 are now a reality. I always loved the technical side of the advertising, so I guess that’s why I got into the media agency business.
Roger: During your presentation for the GroupM workshop you spoke to a room of candidates about careers in media or digital planning. Can you explain your point about being a 3D person?
Tim: Being a 3D (3 Dimensional) candidate means expressing yourself across three very important levels of engagement. The first is intellectual–are you a critical thinker, are you inquisitive, do you seek out answers, or do you wait for them to come to you? Are you well read, are you published anywhere (website, school paper etc.)? Are you a problem solver? Be ready to give the interviewer examples. The second dimension is commercial. Do you understand business, and specifically do you understand the business model of the company interviewing you? Do you know how they make money? Do you know who their competitors are? What new things are they doing and what does their future look like? How are they using new technologies? How can you provide value to them given your skill set and other assets? The third element is emotional. What are your passions? Do you do any volunteer work? Who are your role models, and why? Do people trust you? Have you been given responsibilities that your peers were not given? Have you had to overcome any adversity in your life and if so how did you find the strength to get through it? Be ready to tell your story as if it were a novel.
Roger: What are some skills sets that potential interviewees need to know or have before they think about pursuing a career in media planning?
Tim: Skill sets can be varied because we hire across a broad spectrum of jobs. We are analysts, mathematicians, writers, presenters, negotiators, creatives. marketers and more. Desktop skills are a must–Excel, Word, PowerPoint, and specialized skills like Visio or Photoshop. In a digital world a working knowledge of how social media platforms are used in media and advertising is a must (Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, Pinterest etc.).
Roger: What can be done to promote or expose college students for pursuing a career in media planning?
Tim: To get colleges students interested in advertising and media, people like me need to go to the schools and get in front of the students. The faculty is very welcoming, and we need to talk to them about media agencies because nobody thinks about an ad in terms of how it gets to where it gets. Nobody thinks about recording the effectiveness of the ad. Nobody thinks about the delivery channels. It is a huge industry, but people tend to only think about the creative as aspects of advertising. So we need to go the schools and talk to students about this great industry because it is interesting, exciting and innovative and I want students turned on by the prospects of working in media. It is so much more than measuring ratings on a TV show; it’s multidimensional and multifaceted and we want students from all majors to apply for jobs with us, including economics, statistical analysts, math, and communications majors to name just a few. We sit with clients, sales people and all of the distribution channels representatives that go across digital platforms, traditional platforms, print platforms and the whole integrating model. Students can be a part of this as a career in a way that they didn’t know about and bring their varied skill sets to the mix. So I am very excited about the prospect of going to colleges and universities because I’m passionate about it and I want the students to see that passion in me. I want them to get excited, because now they have a new place to go and work that they didn’t know existed. If I can help them by telling them what they need to do through awareness and preparation, then they’ll have a better chance to nail the interview and impress the company enough to get started on an exciting career path.
Roger Maloney is the VP of Vanguarde Consulting Group and company that prepare small business for the digital age. Roger can be reached at email@example.com.