I can’t think of a more exciting industry to be in at the moment.
Eight years since I first stepped foot into a PR agency and my parents still can’t figure out what exactly I do for a living. They’re smart folks, it’s not their fault. My job and this industry is constantly evolving.
Eight years ago, I, like nearly all of my colleagues, drafted messaging frameworks, wrote press releases, pitched stories and created brochures, websites or other marketing materials for clients to help tell their story and drive actionable outcomes. These elements are of course still a critical part of the mix, but it’s becoming less of a sole reason that clients are hiring PR agencies.
These days, clients want your brain power. They want creative ideas. The want innovative ideas that challenge the norm. They want trusted consultation from specialists who 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. We 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 consistently from start to finish. In addition, any good PR agency is now chalk full of a mixed bag of specialists. From media relations masterminds to stunning videographers and copywriters, research strategists to community managers, content marketing gurus to graphic designers. People who truly see the big picture and understand the convergence and integration of owned, earned and paid media strategies.
What needs to happen?
Act. Now. You better start pulling the right people into your agency or onto your communications team. 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 limits on learning and development. 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 extend 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 rewards proactive thinking and creativity more than ever before. 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 an seat open for you.
Photo by Quinn Dombrowski, licensed under Creative Commons