Help wanted: Must be able to juggle
I was fortunate to start my career as an intern at NATIONAL before being hired as a coordinator. A shared passion for communicating to solve a problem makes the agency life a fantastic one to be a part of, as I discovered early in my internship.
Co-workers with all levels of experience and knowledge were enthusiastic about the work and more than willing to help a fresh-faced intern like myself navigate the fast-moving and ever changing rapids of public relations. They went out of their way to answer all questions I had, and were even energized by the opportunity to speak passionately about their respective fields of expertise. As I work towards becoming an expert myself one day, here are a few things I’ve learned about what it takes to work in an agency setting:
Agency work is the purest form of public relations
Clients never approach us for help to maintain the status quo – when we’re approached, it’s because they’ve identified a need for strengthened communications. We then work to achieve specific results in a specific timeframe. The job requires a clear vision of current and future trends, as well as a certain level of competitiveness as we strive to excel on the projects at hand while continuing to explore new opportunities for future work.
Agencies require strong analytical skills
Mandates for clients never come with an instruction manual because it’s our job to figure that out. With any project, we essentially start with an end goal and utilize the knowledge of everyone in the office to best respond to the needs of a client. It’s like putting the pieces of a puzzle together without the benefit of the picture on the box – it takes shape in our minds as we pool perspectives and knowledge. We envision an end result and strategize the route we’ll take to get there.
The only predictable aspect of agency work is the unpredictability
One day we’re planning a catered breakfast and the next day we’re responding to a crisis. We serve clients that work in government, non-profit, energy, finance, tourism and insurance, just to name a few. We get a “taste” of everything. On any given week, we may be called to post to social media, write web content, make phone calls to journalists, plan an event, monitor the news, and draft strategy for a client. It’s impossible to get stuck in a rut or grow bored of the work in an agency because it’s always changing. Starting as an intern is perfect because one can really be hands-on with the work, but from behind the scenes where one has the opportunity to observe and learn from colleagues long before jumping into the front lines. The beauty of this learning environment is it made my transition to being a coordinator seamless and manageable, because my workload has gradually grown as my experience and confidence have grown. It has been like learning how to juggle, while my colleagues gradually add more balls to the rotation. While I hope you consider working at an agency, let me just say that NATIONAL is a great place to work because although the goal is to always operate at maximum capacity, the Firm’s commitment to teamwork, communication and collaboration ensures that no one is juggling more than they can truly handle. Starting a public relations career in an agency setting is ideal; working at firm like NATIONAL is perfect.
——— Connor Doane is a former Coordinator at NATIONAL Public Relations