Consulting 101: Uncommon Tips for Agency Success

consulting-101

Public relations agencies are microcosms of the greater industry, embodying the most dynamic and challenging elements of communications work. Achieving success in the agency setting requires hard work, long hours and a laser focus on personal growth. After one year into my role at a global public affairs firm, I looked back to take stock on what I believe makes a communications consultant stand out.

Understand the business of the business. For a junior staffer, a comfortable understanding of budgeting, billing, staffing and client services can be a significant differentiator. Public relations agencies are professional services businesses, and employee billings are the primary driver of a company’s revenue. Whereas it’s certainly not all about the money, a budget-conscious approach to work is a paramount trait among strong leaders. The best way to position yourself for advancement is to look to those working above and alongside you to gain an understanding of the fundamental questions behind the business: How does my company make money? Am I doing everything I can to maintain top-quality and budget-conscious service? How can I help to keep my clients happy?

Master flexibility. Communications work is often unpredictable. Depending on your occupation, the degree of this unpredictability can vary dramatically. However, a basic principle of agency work is to expect the unexpected. As an agency professional, you will need to be able to work quickly and tactfully with a variety of issues. The best practitioners can approach an issue, dig into it with confidence and handle it competently. Learn to embrace the project-based and short-term engagements that tend to appear in the agency setting – every task is an opportunity to demonstrate your aptitude. If you’re unfamiliar with a topic or task, embrace it, and ask every smart question you’ll need to inform your success. Never say “that’s not my job” or appear reluctant to roll up your sleeves and engage.

Learn how to quantify your own successes. When you work in an agency, it’s easy to become consumed with the day-to-day rigors of short turnaround deliverables, meeting your managers’ expectations and articulating your work’s value to clients. Measurement is the key component of demonstrating the value of public relations, for both campaign outcomes and your individual services. Young professionals should maintain a file of professional accomplishments that quantify your hard work. This can include a list of valuable media hits, event results, campaign outcomes or any other computable metrics, including something as simple as a “good work” email from the client. When the time comes to discuss your performance, you’ll have a portfolio of your own achievements to lean on.

Don’t fear strategy. It’s easy for junior agency staff to feel like they’re running through the motions, often executing on the tactics assigned by mid-level account leaders and senior agency directors. Young professionals joining the agency world should be mindful of this dynamic, but never abandon the instinct to think and counsel strategically. You don’t need to have 20 years of experience to have a good idea, and you must embrace the reality that you are a part of the team. Be careful and measured in your proposal of good ideas, and be open to healthy scrutiny. Don’t be afraid to speak up, and always remember it is your remit to take the active role in bringing your ideas to life.

The best young professionals are always looking to take their roles to the next level, constantly asking, “what can I do to add value here?” What do you do to add value to your agency?

gary-bridgens

 

Gary Bridgens is a project consultant in APCO Worldwide’s New York Office, and the PRSA-NY Executive Secretary. Connect with him on LinkedIn, or email him directly.

 

 

 

Take part in New Pros Week 2017

For more information, and ways to get involved, with this year’s New Pros Week check out the below infographic schedule, or click HERE.

Full Schedule

New Pros Week 2017 Twitter Chat Recap

We’d like to thank everyone who participated in the 2017 New PRSA New Pros Week Twitter Chat as we discussed what it means to be a new professional and what steps we can all take to maximize success.

Review highlights of the chat below. What did you learn from the August chat? How can you maximize YOUR success as a PR New Pro?

Take part in New Pros Week 2017

For more information, and ways to get involved, with this year’s New Pros Week check out the below infographic schedule, or click HERE.

New Pros Week 2017

A Tale of Two Mentors

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The first time I joined a formal mentoring program, I seriously lucked out. I was matched with a passionate, candid, talented vice president who answered all my questions, let me shadow her and her team, and provided invaluable advice. She helped me consider my career options, negotiate, and advocate for myself at the crucial point in my career when I was transitioning from grad school and freelance life into a full time job.

I knew even then, my situation was not typical. Finding a great mentor isn’t often so straightforward and effortless. Sometimes, formal arrangements fall short of expectations on both sides of the relationship. Or more often, a formal program isn’t available and you have to get creative in finding a mentor.

Recently, it occurred to me I have another mentor close at hand — just a few desks away, actually. Turning to my coworker when I need help solving a problem, learning from her years of experience at our company and other organizations, I find there are elements of our working relationship that look a lot like mentoring. It’s valuable because we share a work environment, and have similar goals and expectations about our careers. She’s inspired new ideas for my career growth and expressed support along the way.

One mentor was a conscious introduction, while the other grew organically, but both relationships have established a sense of trust and over time become valuable to me in their own, unique ways. And like all relationships, both have required effort and reciprocity on my part to maintain them as lasting connections.

There’s no universal formula, but there are certainly new ways of thinking about mentorship that can serve New Pros as they work to forge connections. Join us during New Pros Week for a special webinar, where you’ll get advice on how to find a mentor, be a great mentee, and fill your life with valuable connections.

Alyssa-Stafford

 

Alyssa Thys is a member of PRSA Georgia and a communications specialist at Piedmont Healthcare in Atlanta.  She serves on the New Professionals executive committee as the mentoring chair. Alyssa is a graduate of Agnes Scott College and the University of Georgia. Find her on LinkedIn or Twitter.

 

Take part in New Pros Week 2017

For more information, and ways to get involved, with this year’s New Pros Week check out the below infographic schedule, or click HERE.

Full Schedule

New Pros Week 2017

newprosweek

Think of your career like a garden. You’ll want to plant it in a fertile area with plenty of room to grow and access to the things it needs to thrive: sunshine and water; opportunities and professional development. You’ll need to spend some time on it, deciding what to cultivate, weeding out the unnecessary and giving it the care and attention it needs. You’ll need to fill your toolshed. Finally, consulting the experts is never a bad idea.

It sounded a bit outlandish before, right? Comparing your career to a backyard garden? But when you think about it, the fruitful, successful ones are the product of a great deal of love, sweat, time and attention. Without effort, they wither away.

This year we’ve decided to give New Pros Week a theme of its own – “Careers in Bloom: Creating a plan for career success.”

Join us August 6 through 12, 2017 as we focus on all the tools and tips you need to continue to grow your career well past your New Pro years and celebrate the things that set us apart. We’ll talk about what tools you need in your PR toolbox, discuss the importance of mentorship to build lasting, mutually beneficial relationships, and connect members from across the country as we explore the ins and outs of being a New Pro.

New Pros Week 2017’s schedule includes:

  • “Planting the seed for career-long growth” TwiChat chat – Monday, August 7 at 8 p.m.
  • “Fill Your Garden: Mentorship & making lasting connections” webinar – Wednesday, August 9 from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.
  • “Build Your Bouquet: Follow fellow New Pros” Follow Friday on Twitter – Friday, August 11
  • Social conversation around our favorite things about being a New Pro and advice from experienced pros on what they wish they knew as New Pros
  • Blog posts on topics such as:
    • “Grow where you’re planted: How to build a successful career in a new place”
    • “What’s in your toolshed: Essential tools and techniques for New Pros”
    • …and more!

Links to these programs and events will be shared across our social media channels very soon so keep an eye out and mark your calendars!

In addition to national events, New Pros Week is a great time for Chapters and Districts to celebrate their own New Pros by hosting happy hours or networking events, showcase members in blog and social media content and just generally engaging with their youngest members to highlight the great things we add to the PR field and to help us further grow and advance the profession.

Don’t forget to follow along on our social media channels and join in the conversation on Twitter using #NPPRSA and #NewProsWeek.

If you have any questions or want to get involved, please reach out to us!

Robyn & Veronica
@robyn_rl | @veronica_min
robynmrl@gmail.com | vmingrone.prssa@gmail.com

PRSA’s New Professionals Section 2017 programming chairs

My PR story: Robyn Rudish-Laning

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“Find something you’re passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it.” ― Julia Child

There really isn’t a better way for me to describe my career, especially since Julia Child’s passion was food. I, too, love food and that’s where my passion for PR started.

First, a little about me. I currently live in Columbia, SC, with my boyfriend and our tail-less cat Izzy and where I work for the South Carolina Council on Competitiveness, a nonpartisan, business-led nonprofit that works to advance South Carolina’s long-term economic competitiveness. I grew up on a farm in Southern New Jersey and when it came time for me to head off to college, I packed my bags and moved to Pittsburgh. There I attended Duquesne University, right in the heart of the city, which is where I belong – right in the middle of a city. I earned my bachelor’s in public relations and a master’s in media arts and technology, focusing on creative media practices. My PR experience has been a little all over the place: nonprofits in Pittsburgh, New York and Columbia, retail, boutique agency and pharmaceutical research.

So how did I get here? I figured out early that I wanted to work in PR and communications. My first job back in high school was waitressing at a local restaurant. It was small and, being the master of multitasking I am, I began helping to organize some of our events and putting together marketing pieces and campaigns, in addition to my normal job and learning how to cook in the kitchen on slow nights. So in a way, food led me to PR.

As a student I interned with two nonprofits – the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Greater Pennsylvania & West Virginia in Pittsburgh and the 9/11 Tribute Center in New York. In both, I created and maintained media lists, drafted press kits, press releases, media advisories, social media content, web content, print marketing materials – basically if it was written or designed, it probably started on my desk.

That’s a common theme through each job I’ve had so far. If there’s writing to be drafted, a piece to be designed or, more recently, strategy to be crafted, it’s started with me. I could outline all the different types of projects that I’ve worked on, but the point is that through all the places I’ve worked, no matter how thrilling or mundane the project or task might have been, there was a similarity tying them all together – each was its own form of storytelling. Telling stories is the heart of what PR is and it’s what I love about the field. Being able to find and share stories, whether that’s through blogs, video, social media, events, photos or whatever type of content lies ahead, is important to me. It’s what I’m tremendously interested in, what I’m passionate about. It’s what I’ll keep looking for in every job through the end of my career.

Whether you’re trying to tell your own story, still trying to find a path for yourself or anywhere in between, that’s the best advice you can take. Find what you’re passionate about, what drives you, inspires you, makes you feel like you’re doing something, and stay interested, learning everything you can along the way.

robyn-rudish-laningRobyn serves as PRSA’s New Professionals Section’s programming co-chair and is a communications and PR pro currently living and working in Columbia, S.C. In addition to volunteering with PRSA’s New Professionals Section, she also serves as the 2017 VP of Communications for the South Carolina PRSA Chapter and brought together the chapter’s first New Professionals group in 2016. She’s a native of southern New Jersey and currently resides in Columbia, S.C., by way of Pittsburgh, and currently works as the communications coordinator a statewide non-profit organization. In her spare time, Robyn likes to cook, read, spend time with her tail-less cat Izzy and write for her own blog – and almost always with a cup of tea in hand. Find her on Twitter & talk to her!