Yes, the clients can be annoying and the hours long, but working in a PR agency still offers a great career path
After reading this blog I asked myself: does everyone eventually succumb to agency exhaustion? Or is an agency where the best career path lies? I went with the latter and here are my top six reasons why.
1. PR salaries get better
I no longer get jealous of my friends’ salaries. I started on a salary of £17,000; I remember this was £1,111 a month after tax – which after rent, bills, student loan, a travel card and food, left you with little else to spend, let alone save. My dad asked me what on earth I was thinking accepting the job. His company’s graduate scheme started at £32,000 and that wasn’t even in London.
However, if you work hard and throw yourself into new challenges and slog your way up the ladder, agency salaries are actually quite good. Luckily I don’t have many friends who work in the City, but if you think PR agencies have long hours, try working 18-hour days and not seeing your family all week because you have to get that oh so important 50,000-word contract delivered by Sunday night.
2. I’m not sure many of us do it for the love
Yes I enjoy my job, but if I was doing it for the love, I would do something that made a difference to the world, such as being a doctor, caring for sick animals or charity work. Ultimately PR is a job, it isn’t likely to change or save lives and you are generally working hard to make rich people richer. If you can get over that and focus on achieving your own personal goals, it is a good job and agencies are fantastic for progression.
3. Yes, clients can be annoying
But they pay our salaries. And there are good ones too. The best thing about an agency is the teams you work with, not the clients you work for. You are never alone in an agency, you are never the only one reporting into that client and there is always someone who has your back. There are some in-house roles where no one else within the business even understands what PR is; they’re much harder to report into than a client.
4. You should set an example in your working hours
OK, there are days when we do need to work late for a new business pitch, or to do something that we put off the day before or because we are working on a big campaign. But as you get more senior, we should not feel guilty about leaving on time. It’s about setting an example to show that you should leave at a reasonable time. Ensuring junior team members can leave on time is important, whether that’s making sure their workload is not too heavy, or telling the client that the urgent update to the coverage report will just have to wait.
I would also rather be busy than having to watch the clock. I often wish for time to slow down, rather than speed up, because there are just not enough hours in the day, but that’s part of what people thrive off in an agency. Being busy, working under pressure and throwing yourself at new challenges is what keeps you alive.
5. There is more to PR than writing a press release
Clients pay us for our creativity and for new ideas, so if the best we can come up with is writing a press release, we have failed. A lot of agencies are now moving towards a more integrated offering, with digital and social capabilities all part of the portfolio. Making sure we can present an idea that encompasses social and digital platforms, as well as thinking about how that content can be used to drive wider sales engagement, is all part of showing our value.
6. It comes down to luck
Agencies tend to be full of young, fun, dynamic and ambitious people, but a lot of it does come down to luck. Having a good manager and a proper appraisal system plays a big part of your success as agencies should provide lots of room for career progression.
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