On Saturday I’ll be celebrating my one-year work anniversary at Meropa Communications. This little interview appeared on the company’s Facebook page today. Thought I’d take the opportunity to share it here, for you guys to get a better feel for what I actually do for a living (and hopefully explain why my second book is taking so long to finish writing!)
• Please explain your journey through Meropa?
I joined Meropa on 1 December 2017 as senior writer on a global blue-chip account. Our team of six is quite unique in the Meropa family in that we are based off-site, within an integrated ad agency which was specifically created for and is dedicated to this one client. The ad agency has a global presence, and we all eat, sleep and breathe the same brand. I have a hot desk at the Meropa office, and another one at our client’s premises, but for the most part I work in a fun and high-pressure ad agency environment. When I reflect on the past 12 months, I can’t believe how much I’ve learned, and how much I’ve improved as a writer – not just as a corporate storyteller, but across all styles of writing. I’m surrounded by interesting and inspiring people and have made some firm friends along the way. In terms of my now 18-year-long career in the greater media and communications industry, this has definitely been one of my most productive and rewarding years to date.
• What makes you a Meropian?
I am proud to work for such a well-established, ethical, and authentically African agency, with an empowered company culture, and a reputation for excellence. With an extensive and wonderfully diverse portfolio of clients, I find the scope for growth and development within the organisation very exciting.
• What do Meropians have for breakfast?
News, news, and more news. Whether it be via the radio, TV, newspapers, online, and yes, even the good old grapevine, it’s all fuel for the day ahead. Keeping abreast of topical issues and sensitivities within the societies and countries in which our clients operate is crucial to staying ahead of the curve, and producing work of relevance and value.
• What is the greatest lesson you’ve learned while being at Meropa?
Working in an integrated ad agency environment, and being exposed to all the different departments – creative, DTP, quality assurance, marketing, media, social media, client service, operations, and PR – has opened my eyes to just how many teams, individuals, and specialised skill sets it takes to run an operation of this size. I also think the value of new blood in an intergenerational workplace cannot be overstated. From what I have witnessed, Millennials are a lot savvier than we old-timers were in the equivalent early stages of our careers. And if/when we take the time to really listen to what they have to say, we’ll realise they have more to offer than we usually give them credit for.
• What has been your most memorable moment at Meropa?
In June I received the most amazing recommendation on LinkedIn from a high-ranking executive at our client’s HQ in the US, who flew out to SA for the launch of a big CSR initiative: “Paula – great to meet you last week – thanks for all your support for our event. I must say your speech writing talent is exceptional! I am very appreciative of the lengths you went to in preparing and the level of detail you included. I was super impressed. Perhaps our paths will cross again! Keep up the great work there in South Africa!” There’s not much that comes close to that warm, fuzzy feeling of one’s work being publicly acknowledged by a satisfied client.
• What’s your special skill?
Easy reading is damn hard writing. And I think the most valuable skill I bring to the table is being able to craft the most felicitous prose. I particularly enjoy writing op-eds, speeches, and human interest stories.
• Any additional comments you would like to add?
I feel like I have finally found my niche as a writer, and am incredibly grateful to Meropa for giving me the opportunity to do what I love for a living.