Written for PRSSA FORUM — published April 23, 2011
Just like blue jeans, public relations positions come in all shapes and sizes. Finding the right fit is paramount for a young practitioner’s professional development, as the first few years in the industry establishes a foundation of knowledge and experience.
With so many options to consider while creating a job hunt game plan, practitioner hopefuls should measure the added benefits each option provides.
One major option job seekers face is agency versus corporate. While agency public relations is not the best fit for everyone, there were several benefits I discovered my first few years with Taylor that have set me up for success.
Variety. The overarching theme for what an agency experience offers is variety. Agency practitioners are exposed to different clients in varying sectors, allowing young professionals to discover their passion points.
Media Relations. Because clients range by sector, agency practitioners are tasked with pitching a range of media from mommy bloggers to financial reporters. Learning to pitch different media types helps evolve a young professional into a well-rounded media machine.
Day-to-Day Variety. In addition to media relations, working with multiple clients requires the professional to adapt to varying writing styles, business objectives and marketing platforms. If agency professionals later decide to specialize in one niche category, they will still be able to integrate all the concepts they learned from working at an agency.
Colleagues. Another great benefit I discovered was the diversity of my colleagues. Because my colleagues have a wide range of professional backgrounds, our office has become a melting pot of ideas and expertise. No matter what the situation is, there is always someone down the hall who can offer counsel.
Time Management. Agency practitioners with multiple supervisors must quickly learn to prioritize tasks and communicate to manage expectations. Time management is an important trait for any job, and the agency experience provides a challenging sink or swim environment.
Networking. Internships are often a gateway to an entry-level position at an agency, and if a full-time position is not available at the conclusion of the program, it helps to have a well-connected group of colleagues to offer a recommendation.
Final Thoughts. I view the agency experience similar to that of a freshman in college. Much like I would encourage the freshman to enroll in a variety of courses his or her first year in school to find what is truly interesting and motivating, a new agency practitioner should engage in diverse experiences. Variety helps broaden and sophisticate young professionals for what’s ahead.
Photo courtesy of DeviantArt user yujikunschmidt