Negotiating for the Most Bang: Tom Coons

This article originally appeared at deafprofessional.net.

Imagine working in a glamorous city like Manhattan, deciding where advertisements for major corporations will be placed in magazines like Newsweek and Parenting. That’s exactly what Tom Coons, 29, does for Initiative Media, an agency with the Interpublic Group of Companies.

“I work as a junior print negotiator, which is similar to being a media buyer. I work with magazines and newspapers, where I negotiate the cost and positioning of print media purchased by major corporations,” he explains. Carefully choosing various publications to place advertisements in for his clients, Coons also has a variety of other duties that accompany his job. “I have to prepare and provide various reports, such as print posting, flowcharts, rate documents and summaries, and so on. I also make the scheduling, buying and budgeting for my clients.” The clients he works with include major corporations: Bayer, Ross, Burlington Coat Factory, Levitra, Computer Associates, among others.

Coons, who lives in Pleasantville, N.Y., with Ellie, his wife of 15 months, attended the Central Institute for the Deaf in St. Louis before graduating from a public high school in 1995. He then headed for the National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID) in Rochester, where he earned an associate’s degree in accounting. He then earned a bachelor’s degree in applied arts and science with concentrations in business, accounting and statistics in 2003 from the Rochester Institute of Technology.

“I got this job through the employment center at NTID. My interviews were conducted with the use of interpreters, and then two weeks later I got the fellowship,” Coons says. “I started out my fellowship by undergoing training and working full-time on a two-year contract with Interpublic. Initiative Media found me to be a valuable employee for the agency and offered me a full time job in the middle of my fellowship program.”

Having worked in this particular position for six months now, Coons was far from a novice when he first began working for the company. “Before I started to work for this advertising company, I had very little experience in the advertisement field,” he remembers. “But for the past 15 months, with training and on-the-job experience, I’ve learned a lot more about how advertisement agencies work, especially within the media field. It’s a fascinating field. A lot of commitment is necessary for this job, and I’m able to offer that commitment.”

Coons has devised unique communication strategies and solutions for his job, where he is the only deaf employee. “The biggest challenge of my job is that I work with a variety of people in the field, including people at magazines like Newsweek, Parenting, Time and Forbes,” he says. “With some co-workers, there is no problem with communication. However, there are those whom I struggle to understand, so I with them I use voice recognition to communicate.” Coons uses programs such as Dragon Naturally Speaking, where people can speak to him by using a microphone and the text appears on his computer screen. “It’s a really innovative method of communicating with people. Plus, I use instant messaging, which is quick, effective and convenient.”

“I also have to learn how to deal with constant emails which must be replied to as quickly as possible,” Coons adds. “People in my position have to be ready for a lot of communication between clients and publishers.”

Dealing with such big names doesn’t daunt Coons. “This job is a demanding job, and it takes a lot of commitment to get projects done as soon as possible. You must be willing to work long hours and be able to handle many assignments on any given day.”

“Success, to me, means that I work hard and do not give up on any of my upcoming challenges,” he says. “My biggest success is that I am capable of working with hearing people in my job. And that’s what drives me to keep doing what I do.”

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