When I started as a PAN intern – roughly three months ago – my public relations agency experience was at a bare minimum. Sure, I knew I had the tools to contribute to my teams (a Journalism degree is useful, people!), but save for a stint with Northeastern University’s PR club, my procedural knowledge was nonexistent. So, as I joined my account teams in the initial weeks, I began to pick up duties and jargon on the fly.
I have found that each account presents its own unique set of responsibilities, both in nature and scope. On any given day, I can jump from running news scans for the cybersecurity industry to pitching stories for the manufacturing industry. Nonetheless, it’s become quite clear that a set of core traits exist across each team, no matter the makeup. PAN employees have harnessed and sharpened such attributes, and their unwavering presence in the East and West Coast offices stand as a foundation to PAN’s ever-growing success.
As my halfway point approaches with PAN, I continue to face new challenges with each coming day. Even so, a commitment to the following guidelines have kept me on track as I mature in in the industry.
It’s impossible to properly facilitate a client’s relationship with the public at large unless you have a comprehensive knowledge of what the client does. Each client needs a plan based around its unique company image and offerings. This tailoring is necessary all the way down to the intern level; if you’re scanning for news for a client to comment on, you need to know what news impacts its niche in the given industry. At that point, you’re more likely to anticipate which reporters will want to pick up on a story with your client. Your knowledge of the client becomes correlative with the intimacy of your work. Simply taking the time to research your client is an important starting step. Look at the client’s website and social media. Ask team members for their insight.
Ask questions! It’s important to maintain candid conversations with account team members to properly build your skill set. Starting on a task with no idea of how to complete it just wastes time and forces you to create improper habits. Keeping open communication ensures that you’ll receive the information necessary to finish your assignments, and displays commitment. I can’t remember the last time I was working on an assignment and haven’t IM’d a co-worker to ask about one part or another. Being open about each other’s work puts everyone on the same page, and allows for everyone on the team to jump in and help one another at any given point.
Agency work is team-centric in nature; if you don’t buy into making everything a joint effort, productivity could take a hit. Delegating, sharing and handing off are traits that require no PR experience, but go so far to ensure completing work for your client in a timely manner. I complete the content portion of daily news scans in the morning on my own, but then I send it off to the team; from there, designated team members run with that content. One may be in charge of identifying stories for the client to comment on, while another may head the actual client pitching. Designating roles and tiers are important organizationally, but one can’t become too comfortable with a set to-do list. (Cue “We’re All In This Together”)
There’s no need to sugar coat: Some assignments aren’t the sexiest. Those assignments are important for your accounts, though; staying passionate is another example of something one can control no matter their PR experience. It’s fairly easy to approach the repetitiveness of scanning, flagging, and note-taking with apathy. To combat, I like to take some time to look at the work of my accounts from an outside perspective; admiring the secured coverage, speaking opportunities, and overall success of PAN keeps me motivated. Just remember you’re working toward a bigger goal. Jumping into every task with a drive to contribute to that streamlined success only ensures more achievement for your clients and your agency.
It truly is inspiring: Every single co-worker at PAN buys into creating and celebrating a “Work Hard, Play Hard” culture. When it’s time to grind, heads are down and results are delivered. At the same time, such effort is tempered with celebration and feel-good moments, creating an atmosphere that really does feel like family. Buying into the environment that the agency creates feels so easy, and it pays dividends. Once you genuinely enjoy being at your agency day in and day out, and establish relationships with your peers, collaboration and productivity come so much easier. Building your PR skill set takes time, but truly devoting yourself to your agency and the teams you work for makes the process that much more enjoyable.