In-Scope: AWARD School 2018: The most rewarding and equally testing 12 weeks of my life.

Abbey Lauersen is an Account Manager for OMD Create Melbourne, helping to deliver strategic and content lead solutions to solve a wide range of client challenges.

AWARD School 2018, the most rewarding and equally testing 12 weeks of my life.

For those who are unaware, AWARD School is a highly regarded course run by the Communications Council. Established in 1983, AWARD School looks to develop advertising creatives from all avenues by helping them learn what constitutes a good idea, how to find inspiration and be more critical when it comes to ideation.

Ever since I studied Advertising at RMIT, AWARD School was a goal on my bucket list. I knew that getting in was not going to be a walk in a park, so I was absolutely thrilled to learn I had been accepted after submitting my portfolio answering four different briefs.  I mean, who wouldn’t give up anything (namely sleep and a social life) for the opportunity to work with some of the best minds in the country?

Call me crazy, but this was my dream come true.

Week in and week out, we heard from incredibly talented and well-established industry professionals. We had the opportunity to work alongside creative geniuses for hours on end, discussing and showcasing our ideas. I was lucky enough to work with Trent Hendrick and Tom Vizard from Cummins&Partners as well as Jess Wheeler and Sean Birk from Fenton Stephens, who acted as mentors to my group. Their feedback and ideas were truly invaluable and a great insight into the world of traditional advertising, especially for someone coming from a media agency.

To best sum up my experience, I have captured 12 golden nuggets from the 12 weeks of AWARD School, which I plan to keep in the forefront of my mind for all the work that I create moving forward.

1. Put all your cards on the table.

Don’t be afraid to share what you may think are your ‘bad ideas’. Sometimes, it’s the bad ones that people see the most potential in.

2. To be interesting, you have to be interested.

Get into the habit of being more observant. Look for inspiration in everything. Everywhere. Every day.

3. Start tracking why you love certain things to help the idea process.

Identify why it was good, why you liked it and write it down. Save it for a rainy day.

4. It’s okay to have a cheeky cocktail on a Monday night.

It’s important to have a break and connect with your colleagues and classmates. It’s also a great way to learn about how others tackle briefs and challenges from different perspectives.

5. If in doubt, just write or draw.

When you find yourself lost for ideas, draw lots of boxes on a blank page and start to write ideas in them. Get someone else to have a look over it. There will be at least one diamond in there somewhere.

6. Don’t just stick to one idea process.

Sometimes a mind map gives you good ideas, other times it is going for a walk or writing on post-it notes. Change it up. The book Hey, Whipple, Squeeze This: The Classic Guide to Creating Great Ads was extremely helpful in opening my mind up to different ideation processes.

7. Take lots of showers, it’s where all the ideas live.

Less distractions, more room for ideas to hit you.

8. A good idea is simple, it may just be a little messy getting there.

If you have to explain your idea in more than an elevator pitch, chances are it won’t stick and is not strong enough.

9. A fact is not an insight, a human truth is.

But us media people already know that.

10. Be prepared for late nights and long hours.

The tutorial nights can get long, especially near the end. I found food helps, in one of the last sessions I brought Nachos in. I found that night, everyone loved my ideas, coincidence? I think not. So be prepared to put in the work, learn what works for you and go with it.

11. Be willing to have your ideas rejected, over and over again.

12. And finally, number twelve, “completing AWARD School is an ‘it’, not the ‘it’.”

Emma Hill from M&C Saatchi Melbourne summed up the whole experience perfectly on our final graduating night by saying that we will have many “this is it” moments in life, not just one. Never stop, keep growing, keep challenging yourself and achieve all those ‘it’ moments.

So, there you have it. I hope there is something in there for all of you and please feel free to reach out to pick my brain any further.

Next pitch, you’ll find the nachos at my desk.


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