By Morgan Meszaros
Recently, six UA PRSSA members attended a day of agency tours in Atlanta, Georgia. After doing panels and office walk-throughs at three agencies, attendees were able to learn valuable lessons about agency life and life in PR. Here are just a few of the lessons we were taught through this experience.
Stop 1: BCW Global
The group started the day at BCW Global. After an introduction and general company overview, three members of the BCW team participated in a panel discussion based on questions asked by PRSSA members. The questions focused mainly on agency life, work-life balance and typical work each person does in their position. Overall, the main emphasis of the BCW Global tour was the importance of time management. In agency life, the panel members explained that you will have to split your time between clients and projects. Managing that time is important so that each client gets the necessary attention. They explained that maintaining this balance is one of the main differences between in-house/corporate PR and agency PR. After a short hour with BCW, the group moved on to the next stop.
A quick lunch and then…
Stop 2: FleishmanHillard
At FleishmanHillard the group was taught background about the company as a whole by Jerry Tolk, general manager of the Atlanta office. After giving a quick background of his professional journey, he informed the group of the values and work environment of FH. Something unique that he pointed out was their top rule in the office: no yelling. He went on to explain that instead of yelling or extreme anger during conflict in the workplace, FH pushes its team members to intellectualize with their conflict. This rule overlaps with the top theme of the FH experience that taught PRSSA members that your time and energy are worth it if you love a lot of the things you are doing (even if you don’t love it all). Mr. Tolk emphasized that at FH, they want the workplace environment to be one of the things each team member loves about their work. Going into entry-level positions, the work is not as glamorous or exciting as most hope it is. What Mr. Tolk described to the group gave perspective on what to look for in an entry-level position as there will probably be tasks you don’t enjoy, but doing it around people you enjoy will make it 100 times better. After the group’s time with FleishmanHillard, they made their way to the third and final stop.
Stop 3: Jackson Spalding
At Jackson Spalding, the group immediately went into a panel with around seven members from each aspect of the agency. The discussion ranged from interviews, portfolios, making the most out of a job, and how to make yourself stand out. With the focus being heavily on how to get a job in the PR world, the biggest takeaway from the panel was how to properly prepare a portfolio. Panel members recommended being selective of the portfolio content. They stated that it is better to have seven of your best works rather than 20 average pieces. It was also mentioned that the portfolio should highlight your résumé by including “proof” of what experience you have. Lastly, they reminded students that there is nothing wrong with going back and making changes to old work if you aren’t confident enough to include it in the portfolio.
After a long, informative experience, the six PRSSA members left Atlanta with a new knowledge of agency life, what to look for in a future workplace, and how to prepare for the application process.
Thank you to all of the agencies that welcomed UA PRSSA into their offices!