Can you take the pace?

Maryanne Maina

Maryanne Maina

Working as a buyer at a media agency can be challenging, but yet rewarding.

Just ask Cecilia Glick who is media buying manager at Universal McCann, a media agency in Sunninghill.

The agency handles media buying, planning and strategy for clients such as Microsoft, General Motors, L'Oreal and Telkom.

Glick has been in this profession for 20 years and describes her work environment as vibrant. She says she enjoys being a part of an agency where there is a great atmosphere and lots of activity.

"In my role I aim for effective media buying for my portfolio of accounts. My daily job consists of buying, negotiating, administration and budget control. I work closely with the rest of the media team including the strategic planner and implementation planner," Glick said.

"I negotiate the best advertising rates from media owners such as radio stations, television, magazines and newspapers.

"I started working in advertising in the checking department in 1979, checking that the adverts commissioned appeared in newspapers and keeping track of competitors advertising.

"While I wanted to work in advertising I didn't know what aspect appealed to me. The media department intrigued me - I had the skills to be good at this and I worked my way up to a media buying manager."

Glick recommends that anyone interested in working in this industry should attend the AAA School of Advertising or a course at Boston Media House to get a good all-round knowledge of the advertising and media industry. Buyers should understand the whole agency process and where media and media buying fit into the overall picture.

A successful buyer needs a strong personality to withstand the pressure and demands of the job. "You have to be able to speak your mind and not back down. It is essential that buyers display initiative and always strive to negotiate the best possible deal. If you don't push for it, you won't get the best deal.

"Strong administrative skills are essential. You are accountable for all the transactions that your client authorises. You need to be able to keep good records.

"Attention to detail is vital. Contracts need to be thoroughly read and checked. I often sit with buying trainees to show them what to look for in terms of contracts. The amount of negotiating that is required means that you have to enjoy communicating with people and also be a bit of a psychologist.

"You can't be a technophobe as you will be required to work on a variety of buying software programmes such as Telmar and Comptu," she said.

"This is a challenging industry. This job is definitely not for everyone - many people burn out in this industry. People tend to think of advertising as a glamorous career where you go to lots of parties. Yes, we do get invited out a lot but often we are on deadline so this means that we often can't go. When it comes down to it, it's actually a lot of hard work. It's a fast-paced career with lots of deadlines that need to be met. We have to act very fast when a client makes a sudden decision to buy space in order to secure it.

"You need to be highly efficient and accurate at all times - mistakes can result in a lot of money wasted. Getting the best discount for a client is sometimes a challenge - fortunately I have a good relationship with media sales people so I can generally reach a compromise," Glick said