Guest Post: The Importance of Teamwork

Guest post from two of my coworkers, ACDs Brad & Julie  about the importance of having a partner and how working together makes your book better. Lots of really solid advice and lots of things to think about. I know it's hard finding a partner, especially a good partner, but really make this a priority because it may make or break your portfolio.

Read on.

One. A lonely, lonely number.
By Julie Allard and Brad Mislow
Throughout our career as a creative team (now in it's 13th year), we've seen hundreds of student portfolios. That's looking at thousands of ads from people like you who are looking for a job. There's no doubt behind every portfolio is someone who's hungry for work. But let's face it: some are better than others. And we can tell right away which ones were created by teams of copywriters and art directors, and which ones where done by one person. The difference is glaring: the ones done by teams are most always better. It's a very simple concept – work with others, you get a more balanced portfolio, filled with a range of ideas and styles. Yet it's astounding how many portfolios we've seen done by an army of one.

Portfolios filled with work by teams stand out because there is a proper balance between art and copy. Ads done by a lone writer tends to be visually shabby oroff. The type rarely looks right, and proper attention isn't given to visuals. With art directors who go writerless, copy tends to be overwritten, grammatically incorrect and sometimes misspelled.

Simply put, if you're working as half a team, your portfolio is half way there. In order to be considered as a viable job candidate, you must solid collection of work. Writers, don't assume that you'll get a pass from a creative director when the art direction is off. Same deal for art directors when it comes to copy. Creative directors are impressed by solid creative ideas. If they don't get the idea, they move onto someone else.
Think of it this way: creative directors judge portfolios like Olympic judges score competitive diving. Do just one part of the dive, you get a low score. Do an easy dive, you get a 5, even for doing it well. Do a hard dive really well and pay attention to every detail on the way down – get a 10. Your portfolio needs to be a 10.
We've heard about every excuse there is about why a portfolio was made by one person: I couldn't find a writer to work with...My school didn't have enough art directors to go around...Writing? Art directing? Oh, I do both...I just work better alone. Remember, most of the time your portfolio will be viewed online. You're not there to make excuses. Even if you were, whatever you have to say won't make a difference if the work is weaker than it should be.

Finding a partner is easier than you think. Ad students always need some more and/or better work for their portfolios. Student writers and art directors are always seek each other out. As a student, take advantage of your school's advertising department and clubs. Get on your school's online message board. Go to events. You may even go to other local schools and find other students studying advertising. Or, start your own ad group! All it takes is a poster and a place to meet. Think of it as your first real assignment.

Outside of your school, local professional advertising associations usually have  student memberships with reduced fees. It's a good way to both find potential partners and make contacts in the professional realm as well.

Working with a partner, your work will be so much better. Advertising is a tough, competitive business. A better book will help you. Believe us, you'll need it. Also, as a bonus, agencies are more likely to hire a junior team they know who can work well together than taking a chance on one person whom they hope will get along with others.

Like most creative directors, we love seeing really great work from recent graduates who want to be creatives. Put the right amount of attention and hard work into your portfolio – with help from a writer or art director – and your chance of making ads for a living goes skyward.

Julie Allard and Brad Mislow are an associate creative director team at Publicis New York.  In addition to their longtime partnership among various advertising agencies,
they've spoken to many professional and student groups about the advantages of workplace partnerships. They've written various blog posts about their partnership, and have been the subject of articles and reports for CBS Moneywatch and the Washington Post. They also contributed research to a segment of ABC's Good Morning America.