11 rules to learn early in your communications career

By Nick Vehr
July 18th, 2017

Don’t you just love the internet? I recently saw that a certain “11 Rules You Won’t Learn in School” had been attributed to Bill Gates (I click on almost anything about Bill Gates).

The post then apologized because Gates’ “11 Rules” should have been attributed to Charles Sykes, author of “Dumbing Down Our Kids.” I clicked through to read what Mr. Sykes had written.

It got me to thinking about how this applies to our industry, and specifically to those talented young professionals who are right out of college and working in integrated marketing agencies like ours.

Well, because this is on the internet, I developed my own “11 rules to learn early in your communications career.” And, I am glad to provide shared, yet partial, attribution with, you guessed it, Bill Gates and Charles Sykes. Here you go.

11 rules you better learn early in your communications career:

Rule 1: Life is not fair, get used to it. This is universal and ageless. It applies to all industry sectors and life in general, not just to integrated marketing firms.

Rule 2: The client doesn’t care about your self-esteem. The client will expect you to deliver measurable results and, then, use those same results to make themselves – not you – look good in front of their boss. That’s called client service. Learn to deal with it.

Rule 3: You will not lead your agency’s largest account in year 1 or, likely, in year 2 or 3. You’re in the people business. It takes time and life experiences to understand people who, basically, are nearly impossible to figure out. This is just a nice way of saying you need to get knocked around a bit – life can be hard like that.

Rule 4: If you think your supervisor demands perfect writing and strategic thinking, you’re right. The client expects not only that, but the willingness to work into the evening and on weekends and, at times, clairvoyance.

Rule 5: Monitoring social media is not beneath your dignity. The colleague sitting close to you may see it as an opportunity.

Rule 6: If you screw up, it’s not the clients’ fault. Own it, fix it, learn from it and move forward. Maybe the client won’t fire the agency.

Rule 7: Life has not yet enabled you to know all that you think you do. This isn’t a criticism, it’s an acknowledgement of a reality. Expert and valued communicators are experienced (life has taught them many lessons) and naturally curious (they always want to learn new things). Value, respect and honor this and you too will seem wise beyond your years.

Rule 8: You may think hard work is just as important as winning, but your client does not. In business, winning matters … always. Clearly define success with each client for each activity. If you don’t, chances are the bar will always be set just ahead of whatever you feel was accomplished.

Rule 9: Life is not divided into semesters. Clients don’t give you summers off. Neither do employers.

Rule 10: Social media is not real life. In many ways, social media isn’t even social. There is no substitute for face-to-face, human interaction. That’s what people do. They look each other in the eye and take measure.

Rule 11: Treat everyone with respect. Remember, you’re in the people business where relationships matter and are the key to your career success.

Well, Mr. Gates, if you can take the work of Mr. Sykes and add your perspective, I suppose I can do the same. After all, it is on the internet.

Looking for a communications position? See our tips for job seekers.

By | 2017-07-22T15:11:09+00:00 July 18th, 2017|Corporate Communications, Vr3|Comments Off on 11 rules to learn early in your communications career

About the Author:

Nick Vehr founded Vehr Communications in 2007. Today, the company is recognized as one of this region’s leading integrated communications firms. It has been awarded “Best PR Agency” designation by the local PRSA chapter and has been recognized for client work by the local AMA chapter.

Nick understands that organizations must think strategically, plan effectively, execute flawlessly and communicate aggressively to build, preserve and protect their brand and grow market share. Vehr Communications is a member of IPREX, a $350 million network of communication agencies, with 1,800 staff and 115 offices and more than 30 countries worldwide. Currently, Nick is president of the Americas region of IPREX and serves on the organization’s global board.

One of Cincinnati’s great cheerleaders, Nick has led or is currently active in numerous initiatives to enable his home town to compete more effectively for talent and recognition. Nick’s passion outside of work and his community is his family.