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We Need to Talk

Interview with Amanda Waggener

Currently, I fight the urge to watch yet another YouTube video full of, for the most part, nonsense. However, my determination to be a successful student stands in the way of that occurring. Although the selection of videos to watch may change, one point is certain; the average person will see their share of advertisements. Many will see TRUTH ads that make them never want to smoke and fear any cigarette in their direction as if it could immediately inflict them with lung cancer. Others may see ads for Dollar Shave Club in which they can change their shaving schedule to be more efficient for five dollars a month. The cycle of ads continues and changes through the YouTube journey which caused my curiosity to pique. To learn more, I interviewed Amanda Waggener of Screen Vision Media to help me gain insight into the marketing field and how communication plays a role.

Interview:

1.) What is your professional history (include your timeline and roles)?

“I was the marketing director for a local publication called Rhyme and Reason, and they closed shop in 2002, and moved to Indianapolis. I didn’t want to move so I quit. Then I moved to Screen Vision Media, which is where I am no, in 2003. They are based out of New York, and I am the Senior Marketing Executive.”

2.) What writing advice do you have for professional communicators?

You would want to find out if you are a publicly held company or a private company. Because if you are a publicly held company, all the information is public and so you also have to answer to stockholders and there are usually laws involved in what you can divulge and what you can’t as proprietary information. but you also want to write while keeping the investors in mind of what they would approve of and what would scare them. But if you are a private company, it gives you a little more flexibility, because you aren’t answering to any investors. You are just answering to the chain of command. but I usually try to focus on the benefits that we have with the media we sell and then try to separate us from our competitors. So when I’m writing about the company, I distinguish the differences between the media companies, so that we create some sort of niche market that makes us unique.

3.) What is your one pet peeve when it comes to professional writing?

When too much opinion is involved in it. I think that if you write on fact and write on history and write on trends you know all that is all factual and can be checked but I think you have to be very careful when you insert a lot of personal opinions because the reader cannot always differentiate opinion and fact and you can really turn the reader one way or the other if you put too much opinion in it. You can also get in trouble for liability reasons.

4.) What kind of business reports do you read and/or compose regularly?

Well, I’m not in the executive management team, so I don’t have to report on earnings or nation sales. I’m purely just local sales. So I’m responsible for gaining market data weekly and monthly and collecting intel information on the current clients to see if they are buying trends and to see what other medias they are buying so we can try to get that budget back from them. Most of the reporting I do is based locally within my own market with my own clients and it is basically a detailing of where they are spending their money where they are going to spend their money and if they are opening any new location and if they are going into any expanding…we wanna be ahead of the curb so the client doesn’t have to tell us, we already know.

5.) What are your writing suggestions to make that type of report successful?

There is a monthly report that I do for my current client base and what we need to know is how long they have been in business and has there been any leadership changes, do they have any new marketing initiatives, have they tried any new medias, we need to know where they are spending their money. So just a lot of research work and staying ahead of the curb so when I report back we have a very clear picture of where they are at and where they are going.

6.) What speaking advice do you have for professional communicators? 

I’ve been evaluated over the years at work. They tell me that when I get nervous I talk too fast and my hands move too much. I make a conscious effort to slow my speaking and clasp my hands in front of me to keep them still while I’m speaking. I also find it helpful to scan the room for a couple smiling faces that seem engaged with what I’m saying. I focus on them when I’m scanning the room and it helps calm my nerves. When I see someone with a disapproving look or someone who is not paying attention it throws me off so I try not to look at those people. Lastly, I always try to keep the audience engaged by asking questions and waiting for feedback. I keep what I’m staying light and inject humor whether possible. Any reason to make the audience smile and laugh. People are more receptive of what I’m saying if they feel they were part of the dialogue.

7.) Name one thing you wish you had known about business communication prior to your professional career?

I wish I had known that when someone stops responding to you it normally means no. And it seems like in college and then even in training on job training you just “keep at them” until you get a yes or a no, but I have discovered that if you are working with someone and they all of a sudden stop responding to emails, or they are slow to return your phone calls, or they are very vague when they accidentally catch you on the phone they don’t commit, to me that is someone that just does not want to tell you no. So I have learned to accept that “ghosting” equals “no”, and it doesn’t mean I need to keep pursuing that person because they are a waste of time when I could be investing in new business.

8.) After assessing the Burning Glass list of Baseline Skills (2016), which skills not in the top 5 would you move into the top 5…and why?

The only one that I may move to the top would be presentation skills, I would remove that in replace of writing. I would say communication skills, organizational skills, presentation skills, customer service, and problem-solving would be the top five for my job. Because in my job I cultivate new business, and when I cultivate new business I have to do a presentation for every single new client, and so that is cut or break. For that presentation usually hinges on whether they want to work with me or not.

9.) What team skills do you feel young professionals need the most?

If I could go back and teach myself something it would be that integrity really carries a long way. If a client finds out that you’ve fibbed on numbers or fibbed on some sort of statistic that you gave them, or even with your coworkers. If you get this client that’s not within your designated territory and you go ahead and work it and sell the business, just anytime you have an opportunity to build trust within your own team and your own coworkers or with your current client base, even if in the moment it costs you money in the long run it always works out for the best. You usually get more loyal customers and you have your coworkers who are more honest with you, and it’s just an overall better situation.

Key Takeaways

What I took away from this interview is that communication is a huge part of this career. To cultivate new business in this field, you must be able to talk with a potential client in a way that allows for their ideas to be addressed. The conversation must allow for two-way communication to express potential plans for the project. You must be articulate and to-the-point to make sure all goals are defined and to be respectful of your client’s time.

You must also have integrity, even if at the moment it costs you. In marketing, you are selling your company to a potential client to gain their business. If you come off as untrustworthy you will cost your business more money in the end. Being honest about numbers and goals related to the project will allow for a healthy relationship between yourself and the client. Having integrity also coincides with your professional relationship with your coworkers to create a healthy working environment. Using any opportunity to create trust with both your client and coworkers will benefit not only yourself but also your business.

Biography of Amanda Waggener

Amanda Waggener is the Senior Marketing Executive for Screen Vision. She was employed by the Huffington Post as a contributing writer from 2014-2016. She is the author of a blog called No Grit, No Pearl where she talks about everything from film to her own personal narrative. In addition to her professional successes, she has had two lovely children with her “person who she cannot live without.”

Maggie VanZant is a second-semester sophomore at the University of Southern Indiana. She is working on obtaining an Advertising major and French minor. She hopes to use her major to create advertisements for successful companies, and eventually acquire the title of art director.  

What do you think?

Written by Maggie VanZant

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