As any PR practitioner will tell you, life at an agency is fast-paced, and experiences will differ depending on your role, the clients you work with, your team, the news agenda of the day, and pretty much any other variable you can think of! No two days are the same. So, as you prepare to place your foot on the first rung of the PR career ladder, you might be wondering what to expect. Here are my three top tips for hitting the ground running in your new agency role:
The first piece of advice I was given when starting my career in PR was ‘get your admin sorted out,’ which probably remains the most important bit of advice I’ve received to date. The nature of PR means that even the best laid plans can go out of the window when a story breaks, or you’re suddenly dealing with a client crisis. Having organised systems in place means that when plans do change, you’re well equipped to adjust.
On an average day, you could be juggling any number of tasks, on top of the 100 or so emails you might get. From corresponding with clients to writing contributed content, monitoring the news for media opportunities, on the phone to journalists, reporting on results, meeting internally to discuss strategy and almost anything in between. It can be a lengthy to-do-list.
Account teams will meet regularly to establish actions, but setting out a personal plan for each day will go a long way to making sure you stay on top of your tasks and prioritise your workload properly. So, get your admin sorted out!
It sounds obvious. Communication is, after all, at the heart of what a PR practitioner does on a daily basis. However, there will be times when you’re going to be pulled in every direction. Your ability to communicate efficiently will make all the difference when you’re dealing with a client problem or scrambling to make sure your comment is amongst the first in a journalist’s inbox before they cover the day’s breaking news.
It’s important to keep your colleagues informed of what you’ve got on your agenda. Sometimes it might just be letting team members know what you’re working on so they can concentrate on their own responsibilities without having to check in. As a new member of the team, you’ll want to take on everything that comes your way to make a good impression and to learn your trade, but failing to communicate when you’re at capacity will only make life harder for you and your account team.
‘Furnish your mind’
This concept, or rather this way of putting it, was introduced to me when I joined my first agency. It refers to spending some time each day staying apprised of what’s going on with your clients and in your specialist area, but also reading more broadly about the news and current affairs.
Whether this is picking up the morning newspapers, reading relevant magazines or articles online, or listening to industry-specific podcasts, to ‘furnish your mind’ is another way of saying to gen up, and I couldn’t recommend this practice more. The more you do this, the more you will get to grips with the media landscape. You’ll start to understand the sort of stories that certain publications tend to run and build your knowledge of each journalist’s areas of interest.
Furnishing your mind will not only help when pitching a story to a journalist, but will also help you understand, and demonstrate to influencers and decision-makers, how your clients fit into the bigger picture, which is ultimately our job. The sooner you can integrate this into your daily routine, the sooner you will begin to reap the rewards, and the more enjoyable the job becomes.
Agency PR is a rewarding and fulfilling profession, largely due to the variety, fast-pace and reactive nature of the work you’ll be doing. Following the three basic principles outlined in this blog will go a long way to helping you make the most of it. Nail them down and everything else will fall into place.