Wendy McKnight, Media Director, Genesis Advertising
What does your job entail?
My role is to determine media strategies for our clients, which in simple terms means where best to connect with target audiences, when the message will resonate most and for the lowest cost possible. I do this for our clients including SPAR, Firmus Energy, Invest Northern Ireland, Dale Farm, the Health & Safety Executive NI and most recently the Social Security Agency.
I manage the day to day operations of the media department of Genesis Advertising, overseeing the planning and buying of advertising space across TV, radio, outdoors, press, cinema and digital.
Is it nine to five?
Impossible! Advertising could never be classified as 9-5 as media is now 24/7, 365 days a year. From getting up in the morning to last thing at night, we are all continuously exposed to advertising, whether it be on the radio, outdoors, print or online — it’s never-ending! And it’s ever increasing as advertisers strive to find the most innovative ways to catch your attention, hence why I can never switch off.
How did you get into this line of work?
I’ve always had an interest in art and design, and initially wanted to be a graphic designer. However, after much consideration, that wasn’t the path for me. A period of work placement gave me an insight into the world of media which seemed to be fast-paced and very appealing.
The more experience I acquired, the more I realised that media planning/media buying involves blending creative and strategic thinking with hard business skills, so for me it’s the best of all worlds.
Can you outline your career to date.
My first role in advertising was as a media executive for McCann Erickson Belfast (now LyleBailie) in March 2000 from which I progressed to senior media planner /buyer. I left the company in 2004 to join the Belfast Telegraph and experience media from the other side of the fence.
After a year as sponsorship and special projects sales executive, I returned to LyleBailie as media targeting manager where I remained until September 2009. I then moved to the Northern Media Group where I worked as group brand/agency manager, servicing Northern Ireland, ROI and GB agency sales for six radio stations.
After this I became marketing manager for CBS Outdoor Belfast, but realised my passion lay with agency life. I missed working across multi-media platforms, and when the opportunity came along to join Genesis Advertising as Media Director in 2010, I knew it was the right role for me.
Tell us about your qualifications/ training?
I have an honours degree in Business Studies from the University of Ulster as well as an HND in Distribution Studies and a Diploma in Industrial Studies.
I recently completed a diploma in Digital Marketing and am trained in numerous media industry tools which are used to ascertain the best mix of media for our client’s campaigns. I also have a City & Guilds in Floristry from BIFHE — not exactly relevant to my job, but something I love to do!
What qualities are required for your job — personal and professional?
Three essentials — determination, confidence and passion. The industry is very deadline driven and you can find yourself working late nights and weekends. Without these kinds of qualities you won’t last long in advertising. Confidence is also paramount; if you are not confident in your approach, media owners will fail to deliver on your brief and, if that happens, clients may go elsewhere.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
Always be nice to people on your way up, you may have to deal with them again on your way down!
Tell us an interesting fact about yourself.
I’m a farmer’s wife, but am not exactly ‘hands-on’ as manicured nails and manure don’t go too well together.
Who has inspired you most in your life?
A number of people, my parents and sisters for their endless support and encouragement, my husband for constantly reminding me that ‘I can do anything I put my mind to’ and finally my high school Media Studies teacher who never gave me an A simply because he couldn’t read my handwriting.
My handwriting is still poor but it’s irrelevant when you’ve got a keyboard!