During my senior year at DePaul, I have had the pleasure of working at RPA Advertising. RPA, a full-service advertising agency, is headquartered in sunny Santa Monica, CA with seven regional offices throughout the US. RPA has 725 full-time employees across all offices and our Chicago office has about 10 of those team members. My position is as an Assistant Local Media Negotiator. If you’re like me when I first saw the job title, you’re probably wondering, what in the world does that mean?
Trust me, it’s not as complicated as it sounds. My role falls under the Local Media department, whose basic function is to negotiate TV and Radio airtime for our clients’ commercials. Some of RPA’s clients include Honda, Acura, La-Z-Boy, Dole Fruit, and apartments.com.
In my position, I assist the Local Media Negotiators with the execution and maintenance of media schedules. After a schedule is negotiated and ordered with a station, the best-case scenario is that everything runs exactly as it was ordered. However, there are reasons the TV or radio station sometimes cannot air the spot. A few examples of why this would happen are scheduling changes, breaking news, a rain-out or overtime during a sporting event, a new special being added to the schedule, a program getting cancelled, or even the station overselling the time slot. The station will come back with their best “makegood”. A “makegood” is an offer where the station will make the spot purchased (that is unable to air as ordered) good in another program and/or time-slot with equal or better ratings. One responsibility of my job is to negotiate and reject or approve makegoods. For example, the Local Media Negotiator purchases a 30-second spot in the Big Bang Theory to air in May. As May approaches, the TV station changes their schedule and sees that The Big Bang Theory may not be airing that week. The station would send a makegood for Modern Family. In this situation, I would pull Nielsen demographic ratings and consider the client’s marketing objectives to make sure that Modern Family targets the same or a better audience than The Big Bang Theory. If it does, the makegood will be accepted. If it does not, the station will send me a new makegood for evaluation.
Another aspect of my role is processing the media billing. After the schedules run, RPA needs to pay the TV and radio stations. One of my responsibilities is to make sure everything ran correctly and within client guidelines before payments are processed. Sometimes the stations will remove spots or makegood spots without approval. In those cases, I communicate with the stations to find out what happened and if it can still be approved for payment. These are some of my major tasks; however, I have other tasks as assigned as well.
Before starting at RPA, I didn’t know a lot about how the advertising world operates aside from what I learned watching Mad Men. My role has allowed me to learn a lot about how the industry works and get hands on experience doing work that keeps the agency successfully operating, rather than busy work or intern projects that never see the light of day. The culture is laid-back and everyone is very approachable with any questions. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time at RPA and I’m proud of the work that the agency makes for our clients. It’s pretty cool knowing that your agency was responsible every time you see a Honda ad!
I encourage other Marketing majors to branch out from current notions of marketing roles and to try something new – I’m definitely glad I did!