5 Key Insights for PR Students Preparing for Agency Life

Iris Dias has experience working at boutique and large PR agencies

I’m a big fan of agency work and know firsthand how an agency can provide valuable, practical experience … not to mention, build your resume!

But most students don’t know what agency life actually looks like..

1. I learned early on that you have to write a solid strategy for a campaign to run smoothly. The strategy should guide every story you pitch and every Tweet you, well, Tweet. if it’s not driving to the organization’s goals, it’s just wasted energy. Also, if you can’t make it happen, don’t put it in the strategy!

2. Get comfortable creating a website, setting up a Facebook page, laying out a newsletter, creating a badass PowerPoint, chatting with media, and that’s definitely not the end of the list! If you don’t know how to do something, figure out how to get it done.

3. The first time I had more than one deadline in a day I wanted to cry—all day. Hone your time management skills. Also, get comfortable explaining to account managers why their project isn’t a priority right now. They never want to hear it, but in the end they appreciate the heads-up.

4. You’ll be working on many clients, sometimes in totally different fields. You might have to switch from mining lingo to consumer-product pitching to CEO ghostwriter at the drop of a hat. Immerse yourself in any previously developed communications materials for each and every client—don’t forget, it’s their voice, not yours.

5. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Part of the draw of hiring an agency is to get an abundance of new ideas and creative approaches. Not all of your brilliant ideas will be executed, and you will be sad, but at least the client knows the agency they’ve hired is coming up with new ways to tell their story.

Basically, no two days look the same in the agency world. And it’s amazing.

A self-described PR brat, Iris is passionate about communications and online engagement and is also a big fan of the agency world. Iris has worked with clients ranging from local non-profits to large, multi-national corporations. She has a passion for conversations and has helped develop strategic communications and social media programs for clients in the retail, IT and tourism sectors. More information on Iris can be found here, and she can be followed on Twitter via @irisdias.


14 comments on “5 Key Insights for PR Students Preparing for Agency Life

  1. Great post! Sounds like Iris and I think alike. Everything outlined is exactly why I wanted to work in an agency environment and as a recent grad, I can assure you it’s all true. Having 10-million things on my plate at once is something I look forward to on a daily basis. I was always the kid who was bored easily and the agency life definitely fills that void.

  2. Kion I was the same way. Bored in school and bored at every previous job I had. I think it’s exciting and terrifying all at the same time, but I couldn’t imagine working in any other environment. 🙂

  3. Iris, great post. Those are all valuable lessons that every PR newbie should know. I think many of these lessons are relevant to corporate PR work as well. I have more experience with the corporate side and can say that I’ve had to learn all your lessons. (sometimes the hard way).

    Thanks for posting this, I will definitely tweet it out to my old PR school here in Toronto.

    If you get a chance, swing by my blog/site…similar focus.


    • I’ve never worked client-side, but I can imagine that most of the insights are transferable.

      Great blog! Looking forward to following along.


  4. Client side is one case but another that you have to look at is corporate. As for insights preparing for agency life there is no doubt this is key but also upon graduation it is important to plan. Goals and orientation should be paramount.

  5. I’ll be interning at a PR firm as a recent grad this April. I’ll be sure to keep these tips in mind! The agency side seems to be a fast paced world. Needless to say I am excited about the internship and jobs afterwards.

    • My best piece of advice to interns is to take the position seriously, treat it like you were a new (permanent) hire, and say yes – to everything. Good luck!

  6. Internships can be a great source of experience for both hands on and developmental. The key is to not forget research instead being commited to executing a plan and not deviating. When I was a new grad I developed the skills needed for the industry, but it is also possible for the industry to evolve. Thereby adaptation becomes necessary when dealing with post planning, especially in the primary phase.

  7. Pingback: Would You Like a Raise or a Promotion with that Review? « PR at Sunrise

  8. Pingback: Key Insights from Life as a PR Intern « PR at Sunrise

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