What a PR Agency Has Taught Me: 6 Things I've Learned in 6 Months
After landing a public relations job, I had to learn the ins and outs of agency life quickly. During my first six months, my tasks covered the gamut of PR. I’ve spent time building media lists, researching speaking & award opportunities, writing pitches, creating social content, refining my email marketing skills and, most importantly, keeping my personal supply of coffee and to-do lists at an all-time high. Here are six lessons I’ve learned during my first six months in a PR agency:
Never Stop Refining Your Time Management Skills
Agency life requires great time management skills, but if you aren’t a pro – don’t worry! Working with numerous clients simultaneously can get overwhelming – especially when you strive to dedicate even amounts of time to each one. However, there is light at the end of the tunnel. A to-do list first thing in the morning gets me prepared for my day/week. I also take advantage of Google Reminders, Google Calendar, and organizational apps such as Evernote. Aside from lists and apps, it’s useful to ask for clear deadlines and acknowledge that keeping up a regular cadence of improving a little bit every day will take you far.
No Two Workdays Are The Same, It’s True
When you have multiple clients, you are never doing the same thing. Sure, you might be doing similar tasks – such as building a media list, writing a press release, creating a social media content calendar, etc – but each client is unique. If there’s something I’ve learned during my first six months in an agency setting, it’s that things can be thrown at you VERY unexpectedly. You have to be able to handle a new project almost instantly, then transition smoothly back to your previous one. I personally love this aspect of an agency, as I’m not one to enjoy consistency. Let’s mix things up!
Communication is Key
This one seems like a no-brainer, but I thought I’d throw it on my list anyway. While communication is vital in all workplaces, there should be an extra emphasis on an agency setting. In an agency, you operate in a team environment. You must be in constant communication with your team so that everyone understands their roles and responsibilities. You are also the voice of your client. There are many approvals needed before you can create, post, or send almost anything client-related. Without clear communication – whether that be phone, email, or texts – someone may miss an action item or a change in the plan. Communicate with your clients, teammates, and supervisors on a daily basis to ensure nothing falls through the cracks!
Bad Days Are Necessary
I’m going to be 100 percent honest and admit that there will be bad days. However, with the fast-paced nature of an agency, you can’t let one mishap discourage you. Your clients depend on your professionalism, timeliness, and results. Instead of feeling down about your mistakes, you should learn from them to see what you can do differently next time. Also, there’s a good chance that everyone on your team forgot your mistake and have moved on – so you should too! Stay fierce and ready to tackle the next challenge!
Professional Growth Matters
No matter where you are in your professional career, you need to keep growing. The PR industry is always evolving, and it’s up to you to keep up with the demands. Your clients want to hear the latest trends and new/fresh ideas brought to the table. It’s essential to be one step ahead. I find that industry reading is most helpful with this because it allows you to see what your competitors are doing and gives insight into what you should be doing too. On an individual level, it’s also important to add new tools to your toolbox. Taking a course, through General Assembly, for example, going to conferences, seminars, events, happy hours, etc. also help to sharpen your skills and keep you growing!
Speak Up – Your Peers Love Your Voice
Your ideas are valid, even when you have doubts, and I can guarantee almost everyone at your agency wants to hear them. Whether you’ve been in the industry six months or six years, you want to provide thoughtful input – especially in brainstorming sessions or client meetings. A PR agency is definitely a collaborative environment that requires multiple brains. My last point of professional growth actually goes hand in hand with this. Researching and expanding your network (through coursework or events) can help you gain invaluable ideas. Now, I don’t suggest throwing out 50 of your ideas all at once, but instead, share the ones you really feel strongly about and can back up to your team/client – at the best suited time. And always remember, everyone loves your voice, so shout loud!
Hands down, the most important lesson I’ve learned in my half year at an agency is to have fun! PR can be many things – rewarding, challenging, a huge grind. We like to remind ourselves to have fun and celebrate wins with colleagues and clients. If you’re also in your first year in PR, share what you’ve learned in the comments below!