Portfolio, Portfolio! Wherefore Art Thou, Portfolio?

Remember the days when your resume was enough to get your foot in the door at a company? In 2013 if you are a Creative, chances are your portfolio is more important than your resume. As a recruiter I’m finding that, especially with recent advancements in digital media, having a resume just isn’t enough anymore. Your portfolio is your visually attractive representative, which should speak volumes about you. Ya know, kind of like an online dating: a hybrid of content and images.

Here are a few recurring issues I see with portfolios and how to fix them:

Thing 1: “The User Experience”

User Experience (or UX) is exactly how a person feels about using a system. For example, ever try to purchase concert tickets, or airfare online and can’t find anything you are looking for? How do you feel about that? Probably not motivated to go back to that website, right? Here’s the deal: your goal when creating a portfolio of any kind is to make it as easy as possible to navigate through and get to the areas you are looking for.

Thing 2: “I’m Ready For My Close Up”

Copywriters, listen up. I’m entering your portfolio to review the concepting behind the taglines, short form, or long form copy you have written. Screen shots in super small font are not only frustrating for the individual, but raise concern that you are “trying to hide” your work and just showcase the prestigious client/brand. If I need to move reeeeeeally close up to my computer screen, my first constructive criticism will be to ask you to change the font.

Thing 3: “A Little Make-Up Never Hurts”

Hi again, Copywriters. The reality is this: we are looking at your portfolio to see your content and how conceptual you can be. But a little visual stimuli can go a long way (remember, we want our viewers to have a positive user experience, right?). So, I would definitely encourage you to pump in some color, contrast, images, logos, whatever you think is going to best showcase your sense of individual style.

Thing 4: “Can I Have a Bedtime Story, Please?”

Well hello, Information Architects and UX professionals. In addition to seeing samples of your user personas, workflows, wireframes and sitemaps, I want to see a storyboard. Talk me through the process of “what goes on.” How did you get from the requirements to the end product? Everyone loves a good story.

Thing 5: “Separation Anxiety”

Okay, this is my major pet peeve and it ties into Thing 1. If I’m looking at Copy or Art samples in the Health and Wellness category, it would be a time saver if there are labels which differentiate the Health Care Professional work (HCP) and the Direct to Consumer (DTC) and Director to Patient (DTP) work. Why? Because even though recruiters analyze portfolios, we kinda, sorta need you to spell it out for us. That’s why you are the awesome, talented Creative and we are the Talent Finders. Make it easy for us! Group your pieces in the Health and Wellness category, but differentiate the goods.

So, what have we learned today, class? Make your content easily readable, add a little panache, talk us through your work and differentiate your materials. Why? Because the end goal is to engage your audience and create a positive user experience which will increase the number of clicks your portfolio receives every day.

For more information on job opportunities, portfolio advice, or interview skills, connect with me on Linkedin and get on my radar!

Jana Kleinman Photo
jana kleinman graduated from suny buffalo in 2005 with a ba in psychology and concentration in marketing. she began her career in media buying and planning at Universal McCann and Cline, Davis, Mann in nyc before discovering her true calling as a talent scout for advertising and media agencies. jana pursued a bs from the school of psychology and education at touro while working full time as a recruiter. with 6+ years of talent networking experience, want to get on jana’s radar? connect with her on Linkedin.

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sneak peek! see who’s attending speed-date networking tues, april 16th

the rsvps are rolling in for our next speed-date networking night, scheduled for tuesday, april 16th. be there at 7pm sharp for a seat-swapping good time and don’t forget your portfolio and business cards! (haven’t signed up? secure your spot now.) in addition to meeting creative peers (i.e. potential job connections), we also have a number of talent recruiters coming to help you find a job, stat (or down the road). want a sneak peek? here’s who’s slated to attend:

*disclaimer: life and work happen… the following people have rsvped but we can’t absolutely guarantee their attendance. 🙂

pamela maretpamela maret
president, TalentBistro
after a successful career in marketing and advertising, i made the move into creative and marketing staffing, and in 2012 launched TalentBistro, a boutique recruiting firm located in manhattan.  i’ve helped some of the world’s leading brands align their advertising and marketing strategies via the right people, processes and technologies,and enjoy mentoring other industry professionals and students, helping them achieve desired business and career results.

caroline blitzcaroline blitz
talent acquisition, Syndicatebleu
working on talent acquisition at Syndicatebleu, a creative staffing agency, i have my hands in many aspects of the recruitment process: sourcing talent, customer/client relations, and operations. even though we have relationships with some large companies, working at a small, boutique agency affords me close connections with both talent and clients.

nicole frangionenicole frangione
talent coordinator, Syndicatebleu
as talent coordinator at Syndicatebleu, i am always on the lookout for stand-out talent! we source for many positions across the creative field, from graphic designers, developers, copywriters, art directors and project managers. we work with great clients, from big agencies, to in-house beauty and fashion clients, and smaller creative tech savvy companies.

emi debosemi debos
project lead, Websignia
i’m an ever-evolving “jackie of all trades,” absorbing terabytes of interesting facts, old and new, and whipping an obscure one out when you least expect it. that just how i roll! i have a background in art and technology and a wicked sharp eye for detail. in my current role as production lead at Websignia, i keep our projects moving on schedule.

desean browndesean brown
engagements lead, Websignia
waaaay back in the day, i was a programmer who wrote code in visual basic, c++, java and even cobol (yes, cobol!). i rounded out my skills when i transitioned to the business side of corporate america, learning the ins and outs of ecommerce, sales planning and operations. i currently oversee the planning and management of our creative, technology and marketing engagements at Websignia.

sign up now

see pictures from our last speed-date networking event

the details:

what: speed-date networking

when: tuesday, april 16th, 7pm-9:30pm

where: Revel, 10 little west 12th street, ny, ny (revelnyc.com)

who: recruiters, creative peers, companies + more

how it works: a buzzer will go off every few minutes and you’ll swap seats until you meet everyone in the room.

don’t forget: your portfolio and business cards!

billboards: big potential for interactive creativity

if you have a fertile imagination, billboards present an irresistible challenge because they’re a flexible platform.  you can:

  • have material blow in the wind
  • grow something on them
  • utilize the rain and other elements
  • feature strategic lighting, strategic cutouts, mirrors, odd shapes, things moving, spinning, dripping, flashing, twinkling, or smoking.
  • create interactive billboards with cameras (as in Times Square)
  • waft a fragrance

as Luke Sullivan pointed out in “Hey Whipple, Squeeze This!” if you create a mediocre billboard, it’s going to be mediocre on a grand scale, so it has to be  interesting.

McDonald’s had greens growing on a billboard to advertise its fresh salad bar offerings, and created a round egg billboard that cracked open every day to advertise breakfast meals.

if you can think of a way for people to interact with your billboard, then you’re golden: they can text in a response to a question or game, or stand before a camera to be blown up onto a big screen. maybe readers could pick basil leaves off a billboard for Primavera Spaghetti Sauce, or capture bubbles spewing from a billboard for Mr. Bubbles. birth announcements posted on the Target Baby Facebook page were translated to a billboard in the los angeles Kodak Theater, then a picture was taken to pass along to the proud parents, as an example of interactivity from Wieden + Kennedy (portland).

highway billboards should be eye-catching and inspire comment or action. drivers typically have 8 seconds to read them, unless they’re stuck in traffic for hours, in which case, an interactive billboard would be perfect for whiling the hours away.

check out these incredible billboards, and let us know your favorites: 50 extraordinary and attractive billboards.

by
kim taylor

for more information on our membership and events, visit The Copy Lab.

show my portfolio and have my ideas pilfered?

this question is asked with trepidation by copywriters, and by anyone who shares creative work: scriptwriters, authors pitching books, inventors, app developers, fashion and graphic designers. it’s a question of trust, and the answer is obvious. you must share your ideas or they’ll gather dust, and someone else will think of them eventually anyway — or something very close that will arouse your suspicion.

there are precautions you can take. you can password-protect your online portfolio (you need an online portfolio) or you can send a pdf of your work, but the best defense is to forge a good working relationship with anyone who wants to view your portfolio. the idea being that the real thing (you, hired) is so much more prolific and reliable than a one-off cheap theft, even if you’re simply kept in mind for a later hire.

also, your attitude should be “help yourself — there are 50,000 more where that one came from” because if you’re a working copywriter, then you’re in the business of generating endless ideas. you’re an idea fountain, tapped into an eternal flame of creativity.

if someone does steal your idea, feel sorry for that pathetic person with such a limited imagination. it’s better to have an endless bounty than to be the empty shell of a person who grubs around for someone else’s ideas.  but keep in mind that people really do come up with eerily similar ideas – i’ve seen it happen often in classes.

i once sent a script to a friend at Paramount, and a year later a movie that was clearly my script was released with a virtually identical plot, and the same beginning and ending. flabbergasted, i researched the screenwriter and discovered that “my movie” was actually based on his own book, which was conveniently published well before i had ever written the script. so sometimes ideas are just in the air.

don’t worry about someone purloining your unique concepts, worry more about presenting them before someone else does.

have you ever had someone lift your idea? if so, what did you do about it?

by
kim taylor

for more information on our membership and events, visit The Copy Lab.

ten alternative advertising tips

surrounded by good company and a few cocktails, we congregated in our own section of a plush, art deco lounge in the flatiron district last night. Meanwhile, R/GA senior copywriter jenna livingston led us in a two-hour alternative advertising workshop, complete with creative brief and thorough q&a session. the highlight of the night was hearing ideas from attendees themselves, who came up with some of the most ingenious and hilarious non-traditional campaigns (or should I say “antics”) that very well could be the beginnings of the next big viral ad campaign. unfortunately, that’s all i’m able to share. you really had to be there! but as a quick recap, here are ten great tips jenna shared last night: 

  1. if you want to work for a certain agency, include work in your book that would appeal to them. make ads with similar clients you would like to work on.
  2. contact creative directors whose work you admire. Creativity and AgencySpy are great places to learn about industry news and agency happenings.
  3. do side projects, like Starbucks Spelling, that can be added to your book to make you stand out.
  4. ideas that can be done inexpensively or free are a major plus for attracting agencies looking to hire creative talent.
  5. in interactive, the idea should always come first. then figure out what the technology is (Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, etc).
  6. bounce ideas off of other people. working alone is good, but can only get you so far. you never know when something someone says could spark a whole new idea and lead to an even better direction.
  7. you should try to add new work to your book every six months.
  8. ask for help. offer to pay other ad people to help you improve your work. giving a junior designer a couple of bucks to make your work look good will make you more desirable. same goes for asking writers to help out.
  9. go on artistic dates. take time out of your week to see a movie, go to a museum, people watch, and get some inspiration.
  10. many people have great ideas but never make them happen. go for it! you have nothing to lose.

for those of you who attended last night and have other key points you’d like to share, we’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below. and don’t forget to sign up for next month’s speed-date networking event!

by
kendria smith

creative brief for VisitMexico.com

the client:

a coalition of 12 high-end mexican resorts, 4 of the country’s best restaurants, and the Aeromexico airline is financing a campaign to reassure luxury travelers that Mexico is a safe, often opulent, and uniquely fulfilling cultural destination and experience. they’ve created a website to that effect –www.VisitMexico.com

the client’s target:

upscale travelers (people who appreciate spas, fine dining, historical sites, art and culture)

the creative challenge via alternative advertising:

find a unique way to appeal to the client’s targets

benefits:

  • Mexico is sunny, warm, welcoming – lots of natural beauty and ruins
  • the cuisine is fresh, distinctive, delicious – both local and global influence
  • architecture, art, music, theater, film, dance and other cultural offerings are unique and sophisticated; world class restaurants, spas and resorts

alt advertising challenges to resonate with client’s targets and draw people to VisitMexico.com.

choose any that appeal:

  1. create a coffee sleeve for VisitMexico.com: what would it say?
  2. if you were going to create a scavenger hunt for Visit Mexico, where would participants go, what would they do, and what would they find?
  3. if you set up a Visit Mexico bus in times square, what would you put inside of it that had an interactive element?
  4. Visit Mexico wants to do something in the lobby of the MoMA to attract upscale travelers, and wants to partner with another brand or brands.  what can be done in that space, and which co-brand(s) would be a perfect fit?
  5. brainstorm a visit mexico cab top in any weird shape imaginable with copy and image.
  6. imagine a bus stop shelter presentation for Visit Mexico, which can incorporate scents, mirrors, odd shapes and architecture (example: for Visit China it could be a pagoda shape).
  7. what kind of fill-in-the-blank print ad can you imagine for Visit Mexico? (example: a Crunch gym print ad could let the reader draw in his or her ideal arms, abs and legs in Fitness magazine).
  8. what kind of Visit Mexico app or phone-based game can you imagine that would resonate with the targets?
  9. just as Honest Tea set up a street “experiment” to see which U.S. city had the most honest residents — by leaving bottles of tea out to grab and expecting payment on the honor system (with a nearby hidden camera) – what kind of experiment could Visit Mexico conduct?

by
kim taylor

talking shop with jenna livingston

we’re very excited for our october workshop led by R/GA’s stellar senior copywriter and Webby honoree jenna livingston. as she prepares to share her knowledge about the world of alternative advertising this wednesday, here’s a little background on the woman behind the words:

CLwhat do you love most about working in advertising as a copywriter?

JL: i love going on production and seeing many months of hard work come to life. casting is really fun too. i like making things from start to finish. it’s like giving birth. I think.

CL: if you weren’t a copywriter, what’s your career plan b?

JL: i’d do something with kids. their imaginations are limitless and you have to be creative with them. you always have to be thinking of different ways to make them laugh and keep them entertained.

CL: where do you get inspiration for your more unconventional campaign ideas?

JL: i look for holes in culture and try to fix problems that have yet to be solved. like with Starbucks Spelling, for example. it’s a user-generated Tumblr i created that collects horribly misspelled names on Starbucks cups. before that people were just uploading photos of their misspelled cup. i created a central place where everyone can share their cup, and laugh at other misspellings.

CL: what are some of your favorite websites? who are you following these days?

JL: i like sites where i can learn something. Business Insider, Huffington Post, and Fast Company are all good. The New York Times is great when i have some quiet time. but usually, i get my news from Twitter. i enjoy following comedians and other writers and people with a good sense of humor.

CL: do you have a favorite app?

JL: swackett is currently my favorite app. it’s an unusual, unexpected way to get the weather. and it tells you what you should wear for the day. saves me 20 minutes. i also like Dark Sky. it tells you exactly when it’s going to rain and when it will stop.

CL: what’s the best piece of career advice you’ve ever received?

JL: only put in your book what you love.

by
kendria smith

for more info and to sign up for jenna’s alternative advertising workshop, visit The Copy Lab.