Agency Life

20 Jul

Oh the agency life…

I haven’t been in the PR field for long, but my work at an agency has given me a concrete understanding of what to expect in my PR endeavors. Agency life is exceptionally eventful; never a dull moment here in the office. However, I have come to learn there are particular skills you must possess/acquire in order to succeed at an agency. Obviously, I don’t know many since I just graduated, but here are a few I have discovered over the past 10 months.

In order to help young PR professionals like myself, please share your advice/suggestions for what it takes to thrive in an agency setting.

Multi-task: You may be working on 4-5 accounts at a time; each one requiring just as much attention as the others. Being able to effectively allocate enough time to each account is essential to meeting clients’ needs and exceeding expectations. The ability to jump from working on one client to another certainly comes in handy when opportunities arise! But always pick up right where you left off- this isn’t the time for unfinished business.

Delegate: Know exactly what it is you CAN do and exactly what it is others can do for you. Utilize your interns and work with other account executives to bounce off ideas, proof-read, calculate ROI, and find new opportunities. Agency life is a team sport- it takes a posse!

Think on your feet: The flair to provide quick and meticulous responses at the drop of a hat comes from a true understanding of your client’s business. Do your research, stay up with current trends and know what you are talking about. Most people don’t have time for bullshit, so cut to the chase and get to point- fast!

Organization (especially when pitching): Plain and simple, keep the inbox clean! The more organized you are, the fewer mistakes you make. Create e-mail folders for each of your clients that specifies what actions need to be taken (i.e. follow up, Google alerts, new pitches, internal information, etc.). I personally still enjoy writing things down, so pick up the pen and paper and record things the old fashion way too! Same goes when using your planner, have an electronic and tangible copy of everything.

Work with a sense of Urgency: Deadlines don’t wait for you so don’t let an opportunity pass you by. PR is not an 8-5 job, make yourself available and respond quickly to opportunities. Wouldn’t you want a reporter to do the same?

Commitment: Give it your all! All relationships, no matter what, evolve from a committed and trusting foundation. An exceptional PR professional knows the importance of strong dedication to his/her company, clients and the industry. Don’t you want to be exceptional?

Thoughts, comments and suggestions are always welcome! Tweet this

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8 Responses to “Agency Life”

  1. blockgreg July 20, 2009 at 8:17 pm #

    Good post. I think you’re spot on for New PR Pros, particularly the area about be prepared. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve spoken to journalists complaining about young PR people who sounded like they were “reading a script” and then not being able to answer a simple follow up question. know what you’re talking about before you pitch it.

    I would add: be willing to take on any task, and be aggressive enough to ask to participate in projects that interest you. Also, be a sponge – listen to how seasoned pros work the phones, watch how they act at public events. Work as much as you can on as many different things as you can, WITHOUT watching the clock or wondering when your next promotion will come. it will come, if you work your tail off.

    @blockgreg

  2. Abbie July 20, 2009 at 8:18 pm #

    I’d also add know the media — both traditional and online. It is important to have a deep understanding of what the newsroom is like these days and how, as pr professionals, we can add value and be a relied-upon resource for the media.

    It is also important to know what’s happening in the world — how what you are working on that day fits into other local and national news.

    Have worked in the agency environment for the majority of my career, if you can master the suggestions you have listed above, you will have a long and fulfilling career in this wonderful crazy business.

    Best of luck!

  3. Steve Farnsworth July 21, 2009 at 1:41 am #

    I think you have a good list. I am sure there are better suggestions, but for me the thing I would add is to constantly evolve smart practices.

    Make growing your knowledge and thinking skills a priority in your life. Read daily, attend trade shows and workshops, nurture multiple mentors, and network with the best and the brightest in communications. Ask lots of questions. Don’t accept the status quo.

    Don’t wait for the boss to pay for it or give you time off. You’re a professional. So, invest your time and resources in yourself. Make it part of your goal setting. What are you going to learn next to be the best at your job?

  4. Danny Brown July 21, 2009 at 1:57 am #

    Hi Adrienne,

    Ah, agency life – great, isn’t it? 🙂

    Some great points you raise/suggest here, and all valid. Another one would be to make yourself heard – it doesn’t matter if you’re an intern, junior or not in a position of “responsibility” – you can always have something to contribute.

    Share ideas, ask the “chiefs” if you can try something. Good management will let you have your say and either run with the idea (or some semblance of it), or explain why it’s not right at this time.

    Oh, and keep your ethics intact. Always. Never sell out just to keep a job – there are plenty more available.

  5. narciso17 July 21, 2009 at 2:05 am #

    One big thing I would add is that you need to allow yourself some room to laugh at yourself – don’t take yourself too seriously. There will be burnout (make no mistake about that) – it’s almost like you have to ‘hit the wall’ early in you career just to see how far you can push yourself.

    Seems to make sense…even though it kinda sounds a little crazy. But, let’s face it – I have yet to meet a PR professional worth his/her own grain of salt that hasn’t had that 1,000-yard stare at least once.

    But I digress from my original point…which is, DON’T TAKE YOURSELF TOO SERIOUSLY. Yes, the gig is (among other things)
    * important
    * bringing value to your clients
    * a demanding and collaborative experience

    But your managers hired a person, not a robot – a human being with a personality, likeability, strengths, weakness, odd habits, strong traits and much more.

    You will mess up.

    Don’t allow yourself to, but just know that when you do, even if you have a boss (or two) that may/may not be super upset, you have another day to make it right. Just keep being you and don’t give in to doubt, anxiety and the gig. The more you do this, the better a worker you will be the more flexible you will be to change, direction and upward movement.

    All the Best,
    Narciso

  6. Fred Bateman July 21, 2009 at 2:22 am #

    Establishing a good rapport with the agency principal(s) is critical to success in an agency. By this I mean more of an intrapersonal dialogue, not professional. It’s lonely at the top and agency principals want to feel connected to and liked by their staff.

    One caveat: Do not use this rapport for self-promotion. Instead, use it to showcase the results of one of your teams or another staffer. PR agencies are team-oriented to an extreme, so self-promoters and introverted people in general do not last long. A good best practice is to avoid the pronoun “I” and replace it with “we” whenever discussing work projects with clients and agency sr. management.

    If the firm doesn’t have a formal mentorship program, then identify someone whose skills you admire and ask that person to be your informal mentor. But don’t be too needy! Once a month over coffee is enough!

  7. MediaSTARR July 21, 2009 at 3:51 am #

    What great insight for being in the “game” for only 10 months.

    I dare say people who’ve been in biz/career for 10+ years haven’t figured out what you so succinctly stated.

    I would make a slight tweak to the multi-tasking however…

    You described multi-tasking with a level of maturity and understanding that most don’t have.

    Just be sure to keep in mind that while it actually might be necessary to switch from client to client, you should strive to focus on task completion when you are in the moment.

    It might seem more efficient to clear your voicemail while responding to an email and figuring out which headline to use on a pitch…

    But actually each task will take you much less time to do when you apply full attention in the moment to ONE thing.

    And I’d also add to develop value to producers and members of the media by being a resource for them. Strive to make their job easier whenever you can.

    It could be as simple as letting them know that you have a list of contacts available for last minute interview requests if they ever get in a deadline pinch.

    Serving them will ultimately serve you well in your career.

    Much success!
    @mediastarr

  8. PRChannel July 21, 2009 at 3:32 pm #

    There is some great advice here! I’d add paying attention to time management – especially for those coming to an agency from internal/corporate PR teams.

    While you are right that PR is not an 8-5 job, on the agency side you often have a set # of hours to get the work done. Client satisfaction is important, so is efficiency and staying on-budget.

    Keep track of your time throughout the day – when you start a new project, make a note when the phone rings, etc. Staying on top of your time during the day will make life easier than if you try to remember everything you did at the end of the day.

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