Should students studying PR work for an agency? 20 points for you to consider.

I am often asked by PR students if they could come and meet with me to discuss the “PR agency world”.  While I am no longer hiring, here is a quick guide to tell you if you are the right person to work in an agency.

  1. If you think the Corporate PR agency world is “glamorous” then you are barking up the wrong tree. There may be others that are a better fit for you…i.e. event firms.
  2. If you are in PR because you “like people” you are really barking up the wrong tree. It is not about people it is all about strategy.
  3. Agencies are tough.  They carry immense pressure and constant deadlines. Clients are unforgiving.  They pay top dollars for results and have high expectations (can you get me on the cover of Time magazine?).
  4. You are only as good as your last job (press release, event…). Agencies are a constant turnover of proving your skills with very little thanks in return.
  5. If you use the word Spin in any sentence then you are in the wrong career.
  6. “I am interested in crisis management. I love deadlines….” So many people have said that to me…but when they are in the soup they realize that the pressure cooker isn’t as fun or exciting as it sounds.  Many cave under the fast turn around decisions and don’t have the ability to move quickly. Few have the guts to make decisions that can cost a client hundreds of thousands of dollars. You need to work in a well oiled team and deliver on your assignment.
  7. In the agency world you need to be able to write clearly and with purpose.  8 out of 10 students failed our writing exam even though they said they were a great writer going in to it.
  8. A natural desire to know every reporter in every medium.
  9. A natural desire to understand issues.
  10. A natural desire to question every story.
  11. Do you have a low boredom threshold? If so… then this job is for you.
  12. Do you see two sides to every issue?
  13. Do you have a burning desire to work on issues?
  14. Can you problem solve?
  15. Are you a detail freak?
  16. Do you have the attention to keep track of every minute of your day so the agency can bill your time properly?
  17. You need to start from the very bottom…no matter what other experience you may have.  You need to be able to do 50 tasks well before you can move up the ladder.
  18. Most agencies can’t compete with in-house salaries. Are you in it for the money or for the experience?
  19. Do you read four newspapers a day? If so then agencies are the right job for you.
  20. Process. Proactivity. Passion. The three key areas for rock stars in the agency world.

Mat Wilcox


~ by Wilcox Group Team on October 6, 2010.

3 Responses to “Should students studying PR work for an agency? 20 points for you to consider.”

  1. Great piece and I totally agree. So many students come in expecting a glamourous PR job, but don’t understand the reality of an agency job.

  2. More young people should read this, rather than relying on the unrealistic views of PR work they see on reality shows. Nice post, Mat.

  3. Ah, Mat – many of these points apply to academia as well, and to consulting. It’s a must read, and I just shared it on Twitter. Frankly, people need to realize that agency work is SO MUCH MORE.

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