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Career in Account Handling

Introduction 

What does an account handler do?
An account handler acts as the main contact in an agency for a client, on a day-to-day basis, helping to ensure that the client’s overall needs are met:

  • that the specific needs and requirements of the client are understood and adhered to
  • that agency work is done on time
  • that agency work is done to a high standard
  • helping to build up the long-term relationship with the client

Answers to? 
The account handler answers to the account manager or account director. The latter act as the overall representative of the agency to the client.

Other job titles for account handler:
Account handlers are sometimes, also, referred to as advertising, marketing or PR executives. 

Where do account handlers work?
In traditional, creative advertising agencies (or, in many cases now, integrated agencies), direct marketing agencies, digital agencies, as well as in various kinds of marketing, media and PR agencies.

Why a career in account handling?

- Fun and glamorous?
Yes, account handling can be fun. But there is too much hard, practical work involved, for there to be the opportunity to associate account handling, really, with being ‘glamorous’.

- A career in the advertising industry.
For many, account handling is a door into the advertising industry as a whole. Many account handlers move onto to be be account managers and account directors, and eventually, managing directors / company directors. Some people use account handling as an opportunity to get into account planning (and some account handling jobs involve both account handling and account planning) and in some cases, the production or creative departments.

- Leading to opportunities outside the advertising industry.
Many account handlers go on to important management roles, in general, outside the advertising industry. Others (after using account handling as an opportunity to get into account planning, or carrying out a dual role of account handling / account planning) move into marketing and brand management jobs, client side.

Details about what an account handler does

  • Listening to / knowing the client. Understanding the specific requirements of what a client needs (for a campaign and / or for branding assistance in general). This involves not just careful listening, and understanding, but, also, taking an interest in the client’s brand and business, overall.
  • Liaising with client on day-to-day basis: to organize and set-up meetings between client and agency staff, to update client about progress of work, and other sundry issues.
  • Briefing others in agency. In conjunction with the account manager, the account handler, briefs others in the agency (in particular the account planners, but, also, the creative team and others) about a new campaign, or some other kind of project, on behalf of the client.
  • Delegation of work: delegating work to members of the agency in general (account planners, the creative team, the admin staff, and others)
  • Negotiating with the client and members of agency: about the details of a campaign (time frame, agenda, and so on).
  • Overseeing campaigns: that they are carried out on time; that the client brief has been carried out; monitoring effectiveness and success, overall, of campaigns
  • Financial control: campaign budgets and other kinds of budgets
  • General administrative tasks: including writing reports, keeping records, and more.
  • Assist in securing new business: pitching for new accounts, as well as, helping secure new projects from existing clients

Building a special working relationship with account planners and creatives
Since the practical side of account handling / management is quite different to the creative side of account planning / copywriting / art direction, so account handlers must play special attention to the relationship they have with account planners and creatives, in general (but at the same time, not forgetting, that the needs / requirements / expectations of the client are of key importance).

Skills / attributes

  • listener / good at absorbing information
  • Good with people / work with broad range of people / team player
  • Good at delegating work
  • Negotiation skills
  • Motivated
  • Good at thinking-on-feet
  • Keeping-to-deadlines
  • Organizational / administrative skills / budgetary skills
  • Lateral-minded thinking / works well with creative-minded people
  • Communications skills
  • Multitasker / flexible work approach

Qualifications

Don’t need any specific qualifications. Most degrees (and HNDs) will do, in particular, marketing (but, marketing is by no means, essential).

Getting in account handling

Work Experience
Depending on the type / size of agency, you will normally need some work experience:
– work placement in account handling (a particular work placement could develop into a full-time job).
– and / or some experience in marketing / sales

Graduate training schemes
Many of the larger advertising agencies run graduate training schemes for account handling

Non-account handling work
Some account handlers get into account handling (in particular, in the bigger, better-known advertising agencies) by starting off in admin / office roles.

Where to look for jobs

  • Advertising agency websites: recruitment section and company blogs.
  • Employment agencies, trade magazines and newspapers, job boards. But these sort of positions will normally require at least a year’s experience (in account handling).
  • Networking. Get to meet people who work in advertising. Work experience can be a good way of making important contacts. A lot of people are now trying social networking on the Internet to find jobs in general (including account handling).
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