Reggie Ponder Response

As the first in a series of guest chats with professionals in the field this semester, Reginald Ponder was equally engaging and informative. I am very glad we were able to utilize the web-cam and Skype program despite initial technical difficulties because being able to talk person-to-person truly enhances the dialogue, especially towards the end when the class was perhaps a bit shy. With a career in advertising and a gig as a movie critic, Ponder is a great example of someone whose career fits his interests well, especially with his wide variety of side projects (syndicated shows in the works, movie critic for radio program and so on). His educational and career paths are an inspiration because he followed his interests from sociology to marketing and film, something I admire because at this point I am not quite sure of the career I would like to pursue.

One aspect of his talk that I really enjoyed was his inside perspective on the advertising industry. I had never before considered the wide array of careers available for writers and creative minds within advertising, whether it be media gurus, public relations or his role as a liaison between the client and company. It was also interesting to learn about his specialty in targeted ethnic marketing, which seems to take particular advantage of the “-ologies” he mentioned (sociology and psychology). There seems to be an added challenge in tailoring advertisements to a specific population because of the need to be in tune with the pulse of the community and aware of any sensitivities. However, our society is diverse and in order for a company to be successful, it needs to be aware of its audience and avoid offensive ads like the one Ponder mentioned (the car company with the tasteless commercial) that ultimately resulted in a major boycott.

Perhaps the most important thing I took away from the discussion with Ponder was his advice on creating one’s personal brand. As evident on his LinkedIn page, in addition to listing the positions he has held, Ponder emphasized his skills and expertise, a key component to one’s brand. Furthermore, I particularly liked his concept of your personal website being like a business card. It helped relate to me the changing frontier of communications and job hunting in which perspective employers have an increased number of ways of learning about you via the Internet, whether it be your blog or pictures on your Facebook. Although I had been aware of this prior to the talk, after class last Wednesday I went back to my room and looked through my Facebook and website from an objective perspective. I did this to ensure it properly reflected the person I want to project because, as Ponder stated, it is the first impression in today’s society.

Overall, I really appreciate Ponder taking the time to speak with our class and his straightforward advice was really helpful. One question I did have for him that I did not get a chance to ask was how he would describe himself in terms of his brand. An advertiser? Movie critic? Both? Now that I am aware of the type of advertising he works in, I have been paying closer attention to commercials and advertisements to see if I can pick up any special marketing tools. I also plan on doing something similar when I watch movies, perhaps also keeping up to date on those movies he has reviewed because his perspective is really unique and offers a different take on subject matter than I normally pick up on, for example, the scalping reference in “Inglourious Basterds.” One can learn a lot about our society and the stereotypes that are subtly present by having a broader, more objective point of view in one’s interactions with others, a skill that would prove invaluable in any career.


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