Last week I had the wonderful opportunity to attend, through American University’s School of Communication, a lunch + learn site visit trip to a large international PR firm. The agency’s original office is located in Washington, DC – one of its 90 global offices – so we headed to Farragut Square last Wednesday for a visit.
Our group of 20 students had the opportunity to sit around a boardroom table, eating pizza and listening to presentations by various employees of the agency. We heard from a Senior VP, VP, Account Exec, and Asst. Account Exec, from four different departments. They really gave us a comprehensive looks at the values of the agency, the specific responsibilities of each department, the structure of account teams, and the factors that go into the entry level hiring process.
The trip was hugely helpful to me, so I’d like to share with you all some of the key insights and takeaways I learned today!
1. Research is key. Analytics plays a huge role in shaping PR campaigns, because you want the work you’re doing to yield measurable results.
2. If you want to work in digital, you should naturally live + breathe a digital lifestyle outside of work. Otherwise, you won’t be up to date on the latest social media platforms, news, and technologies.
3. Hiring at agencies depends on winning bids for new business. Follow the news surrounding the agencies you want to work for – when they get new accounts, they’re more likely to be hiring.
4. When you need to send writing samples for an agency application, send: press releases, pitch letters, and online portfolios.
5. When interviewing for a job, there are a few things that can set you apart: a can-do attitude, willingness to go the extra mile, a flawlessly written resume/cover letter, showing that you’re a team player, and a good dose of common sense.
6. Things that won’t get you hired? Attitude/arrogance, vagueness and lack of detail in an interview, and being all talk and no content.