“All things are ready, if our mind be so.” – William Shakespeare, Henry V
Happy Francoversary to me! One year ago, I became an official part of the Franco team. Just a wide-eyed graduate of the University of Richmond’s Class of ‘17, I was eager to return to the Mitten and apply what I had learned in school. While searching for a position where I could both engage my writing ability and connect with the Detroit community, I found an opening supporting Franco’s nonprofit accounts that seemed to fit my goals well. After seeing where the office was located, I remember thinking, “what would be cooler than working in the GMRENCEN?” Though I still haven’t found an answer to that, I did run into many more questions in my first few months of work – which is why I chose to write this blog.
Before being hired at Franco, my experience in PR was essentially nonexistent. As a marketing and management major, I had taken some public relations classes and understood the general responsibilities of an account person. But before Franco, I had little experience in any industry – let alone PR. I had some internships and summer jobs under my belt like most recent grads, although that old saying – “experience is the best teacher” – would soon prove itself true.
This summer, many new grads are in the same boat as I was. Internships, summer jobs and leadership positions line your resume. You’ve studied hard and you’re all revved up and ready to begin your first real job. After all, an entry level salary looks like a small fortune compared to what you were making at that part time front desk job in college. Before you buy that nameplate, though, it’s important to know what to expect.
If you think I introduced this blog with a Shakespeare quote just to seem intelligent, you’re right. But the man did give great advice. Not much separates an intern from an account executive besides experience, confidence and a positive attitude. The first will come with time, but the last two can be controlled and developed through preparation.
I asked my coworkers if they too had any advice to prepare a new grad for the PR industry. Here’s what they had to say:
- “When taking your first job at an agency, it’s important to find a comfortable balance between keeping your head down and speaking up when you feel you have something unique to contribute. It’s great to be a sponge at the beginning of your career, soaking up as much information about your agency’s personnel, cadences and clients – but be sure to contribute verbally during meetings, brainstorms and other interactive sessions.” – James Youness, publicist
- “All tasks and assignments are important, no matter how trivial some may seem. Sometimes the basic deliverables are those most appreciated by co-workers and clients. And don’t wait for your teammates or clients to ask you for an update on an assignment. Instead, proactively update your team members about the status of projects.” – Joe Ferlito, account manager
- “Whatever you must do to stay organized, whether that’s keeping a planner or using a mountain of post-it notes, make sure you do so. Keeping track of what you’re working on is an absolute necessity, and will save you time and frustration when the unexpected happens, which it will.” – Randy Pilon, account executive
- “Our industry moves at light speed, so my best advice to new professionals is to never stop learning. Take courses and webinars, earn your certifications and advanced degrees. If you don’t know how to do something, Google is a great teacher. A diverse skill set is the key to staying relevant.” – Elizabeth Robbins-Sabourin, account director
- “If you’re not already, become a daily consumer of news. Listen to WWJ or WJR on your morning drive. Start following broadcast and print media outlets’ social media accounts. Know what’s going on in your community and who’s talking/writing about it. This will be helpful when you start working for a PR agency and dive into media relations.” – Andrea Kenski, account supervisor
- “PR is no longer restricted to just traditional media. Content creation and crisis management in the digital realm is one of the biggest requirements of online brands today. Social media is practically a necessity for most companies these days and it can either make or break your brand.” – Neekita Singla, digital account executive
- “Be prepared to hone your skills on smaller accounts. Likely, many people will want to work with big names like Starbucks, Apple, Chevrolet, Google, Coca-Cola, etc. But when you first begin your career, those probably aren’t what you’ll be working on.” – Geoff Geist, digital marketing specialist
- “I learned quickly that it’s very important to be versatile in an agency – because you never know what the day may bring. Success relies very heavily on team work – an agency works as a unit, where diverse talents come together to increase efficiency and learn from one another. The best advice I could give is to always take on new tasks, and learn from those around you. – Katie Kalass, PR coordinator
- “Always keep an open mind to learning about new industries, ideas and technologies. Staying up to date with the trends that impact your clients and your own daily work will help you build more meaningful relationships with clients and stay on top of your workload in a fast-paced agency environment.” – Dan Horn, account supervisor
- “Accept every challenge! New opportunities can be difficult, but learning how to adapt and overcome problems will only benefit you and your team. Versatility and flexibility will pay off in the long run.” – Dana Blankenship, assistant account executive
- “Adjusting to agency life is all about surrendering to the day. Time management is crucial but things are always in flux and accepting that is key.” – Megan Peterson, senior account executive
Chase Rossman is an assistant account executive at Franco. Shoot him an email at [email protected].