Lam Hong Lan, an associate lecturer with the School of Communication & Design, has written a memoir on her 20 years of experience in the communications industry, and the opportunities and challenges she has found and confronted during her career.
‘The Account Story,’ which was released in early June, is Ms Lan’s first title. “The book helps to explain what client service or account management in an agency is all about – what it takes to be good at it,” she says. “If you say you’re a doctor, people kind of know what you do, but I was having a hard time explaining to my parents what I was doing.”
Ms Lan is also a training leader at Ogilvy Vietnam, the local office of the New York City-based communications agency.
She says the book began as an online course which she presented on Brands Vietnam, a local marketing and communications website, in November last year. WeCreate and Tre Youth Publishing House suggested converting the course into a print book since they saw the value of helping younger generations decide on careers in communication. “They approached me and I thought that was a great idea – ‘why not?’.”
The book’s eight chapters cover a wide range of tips, from how to deal with clients and internal teams to how to manage a project smoothly and deliver creative work that both the client and agency are happy with.
Ms Lan also stresses that the communications industry requires a lot of hard work. “You get to dress up nicely and go to nice places, but behind the scenes there’s a lot of stress and long hours,” she says.
“Many young people see the upside of advertising and communications, so I think this is a good chance to show them the downside as well, because if they step into something that they think is all glamorous, that’s not true.”
The first chapter, for example, discusses the ups and downs of the profession, specifically in Vietnam. The ensuing chapters cover how to gain trust from clients, and pitching and working with a creative team.
Chapter five, about client feedback, is one of Ms Lan’s favourites, and she says it is important for people to learn how to take criticism in stride.
“When you have meetings with clients you’ll see there is so much weird, unreasonable feedback on your work,” she explains. “You can feel discouraged, but you have to learn how to handle objections and find the way to solve it. The best way is to get back to the brief.”
The final three chapters focus on finances, the roles of client service, and what makes account management rewarding.
Ms Lan’s goal in writing the book, which is currently only available in Vietnamese, was very simple.
“This book shows interested students what this job is all about,” she says. “If someone is stuck in the job with deadlines and too much to do, I hope this book shows them that there is a bigger vision. It will take a while to get there… but you’ll gain something in the end.”
Story: Michael Tatarski