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Public Relations

Key Insights from PR Agency Professionals

The Key Insights from the Newhouse Public Relations Benchmark Trip to New York City

Each semester, S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications takes a group of PR seniors to NYC to visit various agencies, thanks to the generous contribution of a benefactor.  I had the privilege of meeting several established NYC public relations professionals who armed my peers and me with valuable suggestions.

You might not be surprised by some of the advice:

  1. Be Aware. Read everything on social media, case studies, news, and current events. Search for agency clients on Twitter. Follow who they are following. Read trade magazines.
  2. Hone your communications skills. Become comfortable with tools such as Microsoft Excell and Powerpoint. Being capable of prettying things up with graphics and fonts is important. Learn to “fluff and buff.”
  3. Be well-rounded. You might have chosen a career in public relations to avoid math, but guess what? Mathematics will be important in PR when you are creating client service reports or budget sheets.
  4. Be professional. Time management and creativity are absolutely crucial.  So is knowing the importance of emails. In public relations, you don’t just send out an email. It must be drafted and approved. After all, you never know who will lay eyes on its content.
  5. Ask questions. If you are interning or just starting your career, do not be afraid to ask questions about an assignment. It is important to be sure you are doing things correctly. Also, asking questions shows that you are engaged.
  6. Be humble. Everyone starts out on the bottom. Be prepared to do grunt work in your first public relations position (probably “account coordinator”). Also, putting yourself out there and volunteering to help out will make you stand out from the crowd, not to mention provide you with more learning opportunities. Be willing to do everything from stacking chairs to research. Account coordinators often start out doing a lot of research. Take on every project with a smile.
  7. Be organized. Multiple people that spoke to our group said the same thing: make a daily to do list. Oh… and scrap it by noon. Public relations is about being flexible. Numerous things will probably come up through out the day that were not in your game plan. Be willing to work around it and prioritize your tasks.
  8. Be knowledgeable. What is the media saying about your clients? About their competitors? They are paying you for your intellectual property; make sure you are bringing something valuable to the table.
  9. Be proactive. If you find an interesting article, email it to your team. They will appreciate your insight. Chances are if you think its worth-reading, so will they.
  10. Be prepared. When interviewing for a position, do your research on the company, its clients, and the industry. Bring your resume. Be engaging and thoughtful. Keep your social media profiles professional. Follow up, always.

PR Pros, what would you add to the list?

Relevant articles:

Thanks for reading! Connect with me on Twitter @AESmith03 and LinkedIn.

I am a senior public relations major at S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University in New York. I am seeking a career in the healthcare, technology or consumer industry after graduation in May 2013. My interests are in corporate communications, media relations, and strategic planning.

About Amanda Smith

Amanda Smith is a public relations student at S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. Amanda is currently the V.P. of Public Relations on the Panhellenic Council executive board. She is also involved with PRSSA and Hill Communications, a student-run public relations firm.


3 thoughts on “Key Insights from PR Agency Professionals

  1. I love this list, and as a new PR agency professional, I definitely think it’s useful.

    I would also add: “Learn to take rejection with a grain of salt.” Otherwise, it will create a huge obstacle for you in your career. Since a lot of PR agency jobs (especially early on) are focused on media pitching because our goal is to increase awareness of our clients and get them seen in the media, you will have to face rejection from the media… A LOT. You can’t let it discourage you. Sometimes you pitch the same idea 10-15 times (or more!) and no one is interested. You might think you wasted your time. You might think you have bad ideas. You might get stuck. But you just can’t let yourself think those things. You just have to move on to other ideas. Embrace the successes, and try not to dwell on the “failures.”

    Posted by May Medallada | October 31, 2012, 12:00 AM
    • That is a great piece of advice May! That’s definitely something that takes some time to learn and a positive approach to overcome. Thanks for reading & sharing your advice. What type of agency work are you doing? What kinds of media outlets do you pitch to? I’m sure the approach is very different depending on the clients.

      Posted by Amanda Smith | October 31, 2012, 11:37 AM
      • I work for an agency that has about 25 large clients in several industries – small business, non-profit, hospitality, healthcare, law, real estate, etc. We pitch to all local television and print media for all of our clients, and we pitch different trade publications and various national pubs/TV depending on the industry.

        Posted by May Medallada | October 31, 2012, 6:21 PM

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