I can’t think of a more exciting industry to be in at the moment.
8 years since I first stepped foot into a PR agency and my parents still can’t put a finger on what exactly I do for a living. They’re smart folks, it’s not their fault. My job and this industry is constantly evolving.
8 years ago, I, like nearly all of my colleagues, drafted messaging frameworks, wrote press releases, pitched stories and created brochures, simple websites or other marketing materials for clients to help tell their story and drive actionable outcomes. These elements are of course still part of the mix, but it’s becoming less of a primary reason that clients are hiring agencies.
In particular, the days of hiring PR agencies to solely serve as “arms and legs” or extra support resources are limited. Clients want your brain power. They want creative ideas. The want innovative ideas that challenge the norm. They want trusted consultation from specialists that live, breathe, study and adopt communications trends. Fast technology advancements are enabling us all to drum up new ways of connecting with target audiences. It’s up to us as an industry to capitalize on effective ways to maximize these connections.
The end impact?
Titles aside, the point is that old PR agency models are changing fast and for good reason. PR agencies now walk into new business pitches against ad agencies, niche social media agencies, marketing shops and everything in between. PR agencies are still often best positioned for integrated communications work as we’ve always been the core behind the message and carrying that message from start to finish. In addition, any good PR agency is chalk full of a mixed bag of specialists these days. People who understand the convergence of owned, earned and paid integrated strategies.
What needs to happen?
You better start pulling the right people into your agency. If you’re hiring junior staff just to fill a perceived “doer” role, you’re doing a disservice to that individual. In today’s world, it’s not enough to just be a “doer”. You better be a doer and a creator. When I look back, I started at an agency where I worked for a senior account executive. From there, I moved on to working for a digital strategy director and my current boss is an executive creative director. Huh? A creative director? Yup, and I love it. I still work at a PR agency but it gives you a sense of how agency models are evolving and diversifying.
Each and every day, I challenge myself and my team to push the learning envelope. To constantly stay ahead of the curve. To not just study PR and marketing trends, but design trends as well. We may not all be graphic designers, but we know the critical importance of building and executing strategies with a keen mindset around user experience and design perception. Together, we work to infuse the same mentality into our colleagues – to always push beyond the status quo and think bigger, better and broader. We don’t just “do”, we create – all the time.
In today’s PR industry, the sky truly is the limit. For any college student looking to crack into PR, I’d encourage you to be prepared for a challenging career that is going to start rewarding proactive thinking and creativity more than ever. Be prepared to do, but know that your ultimate value stems from being able to create. If you think you have what it takes, let’s chat, we may have a seat open for you.