YouTube vs brain food: The Business Case for Continuing Education

Posted by Susie Sykes

Let’s face it: at one point or another, we’ve all fallen down the YouTube rabbit hole, a powerful video vortex sucking us in and annihilating any hope of concentrate – look, baby fainting goats! Who could forget such timeless classics as ‘Old Gregg’, ‘David after the Dentist’ or ‘Denver the Guilty Dog’? Bless them and the inordinate amount of space they have claimed in my brain over the years.

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Denver’s mug shot.

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The scaly man-fish himself, Old Gregg.

While lying on the couch in my favourite pair of bygone era Russell athletic sweat pants and feeding my brain tasty YouTube bonbons all day may be enticing, I know that filling it with new and stimulating information in respectable clothing will be much more rewarding in the long run. I hope my parents are reading this – mom, dad, this blog post’s for you. Enter: continuing education. I consider this to be a fairly broad term. Maybe you associate it with a formal curriculum delivered through a college, university or professional organization, but I think that when distilled, continuing education is fundamentally about learning. Anything and everything you don’t already know, in whichever style and medium resonates with you.

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Chemistry can take a hike.

Working in a dynamic field like marketing can be challenging when the landscape changes so rapidly due to trends, innovation and technological advancements. In order to successfully adapt to that environment and harness the elements that can give your clients a competitive edge, it’s important to learn more about and understand them. Then, and only then, can you begin to confidently integrate your newly acquired knowledge and ideas into a well-formed strategy and seamless execution.

Professional Education

My own journey to expand my professional skill-set led to the CAAP (Communications and Advertising Accredited Professional) designation program. CAAP is described as a “professional skills certification program for marketing communications practitioners and an industry standard in Canada. It is uniquely designed to reflect complex business challenges of the marketing communications industry. Almost half way through the process so far, I’ve found the courses to be incredibly valuable. The concepts and course work are relevant to the work I do for clients and projects day-to-day and they’re also challenging, so I always come away feeling like I’ve gained useful insights and fresh perspectives.

Become a News Junkie

By taking the initiative to educate yourself just by keeping up with current news, events, developments and innovations across various industries, you have your finger securely on the pulse of things. Without question, this will present your firm and by extension, your clients, with significant value-add. Maybe you’re in a meeting with a prospective infill builder client looking to elevate their market position. You know that recent privacy amendments have been introduced by the city that brought with them significant consequences and limitations for building design. With that in mind, you came to the meeting armed with a whole wack of ideas for mounting a fun, effective, awareness campaign to educate potential infill homebuyers around the city about how the new rules could impact their designs. You were able to offer them some creative solutions with this knowledge, and thereby portray your client as the helpful, proactive authority in their field and maybe even score them some PR in the process.

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Many stories are huge and newsworthy, others are not.

Skip Tuition

You can also head back to school literally (minus cramming and exam anxiety) by taking in the free public lecture series offered through the University of Alberta’s Peter Lougheed Leadership College. They continue their curation of thought provoking topics (see the 2015-2016 list here) and introduce us to some pretty inspiring leaders who are creating meaningful and impactful change. Speakers will be sharing their insights on everything from harnessing disruptive innovation to improve outcomes in the medical field, to a discussion on how women, people of colour and LGBTQ communities are challenging social norms and creating cultural shifts around inclusiveness and transparency.

When it comes to continuing the learning curve and expanding your mind, adopt a “can’t stop, won’t stop” attitude and take it all in; your clients (and parents) will thank you.

*This post was written by our Director of Marketing Strategy, Gillian! Constantly fueling her brain with marketing strategy know-how (and the latest YouTube gems), Gill has become our in-house expert on all things current and viral.

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