The Pros of Working at a Boutique PR Agency

This was originally posted on the PRSA New Professionals blog, but I wanted to share here as well. Enjoy! 

Searching for a job is almost like searching for the perfect college. The environment, the people, the cost (or in this case, the salary) are equally important. Having worked for more than two years at two different boutique agencies, I think, from my perspective, bigger isn’t necessarily better:

You gain visibility with the agency’s senior leaders.

When you work at an agency of fewer than 20 people, you get to have serious face time with your boss. CEOs at global agencies don’t know their account coordinators’ names, and they definitely don’t have lunch with them multiple times a week. Nothing beats having the eyes, ears and insights of the most important people in your company on a daily basis.

You’re allowed direct client interaction early in your career.

The first few years in public relations inevitably include building countless media lists and tracking client placements. Teams are smaller, so each member has a larger level of responsibility, which means you not only get to listen in on status calls to take notes but you get to have a voice on them, too.

You become a jack-of-all-trades. Larger agencies have employees who are each experts in their individual specialty. Media relations, blogger outreach, social media development, new business outreach… the person who has healthcare clients will only continue to have healthcare clients. That doesn’t happen at small firms. Your client roster will be extremely diverse, and you will have a role on multiple accounts, instead of focusing the majority of your time on one or two clients.

You have an opportunity to get noticed – quickly. Is it better to be the big fish in the small pond or the small fish in the big pond? That’s the question you need to ask yourself. The smaller the agency, the easier it will be to prove yourself to the entire team. The more you prove you are an asset to your company, the faster they will trust you with larger opportunities and give you more responsibility. These tasks could be anything from writing client press releases to developing and managing social media content to attending new business pitches. In turn, you realize that…

 …Your job title doesn’t matter. Small agencies are all about “all hands on deck” and assisting in all projects. A success is a true team success because everyone has a role in making it possible. The individualistic mindset doesn’t exist. There is no time for hierarchy or corporate structure. You can easily be doing the work of a senior account executive at a larger agency. In turn, the amount you learn about the industry from more experienced team members in such a short time period is unbelievable and priceless.

You gain many opportunities for growth. Proving yourself, developing your boss’s trust and forming client relationships are all invaluable tools to a young public relations professional. You may not have projects with the biggest of budgets or clients with the most recognizable of names, but you have a chance to have your ideas heard in brainstorms, you get to place stories in the media and you get to implement all of those strategies and tactics you just spent four years learning about in college.

 Your first few years after college are your chance to test out all different types of communications jobs. You may find that agency life isn’t the best fit for your personality and that corporate communications is where you are happiest. Or after some time at a large, global firm you may realize that a boutique agency will give you the mentorship you need and the one-on-one interaction you crave. No matter where you land, don’t discount any opportunity. Good luck!

 Do you work a boutique firm, a large agency or in another setting? What are the pros of your individual workplace?

Staying Connected When You’re Offline

Last week I went on my first vacation since December. Woof. Definitely well needed and in my mind, well deserved.

I have a plan to visit as many, if not every, baseball stadium in the county. With that in mind, I headed off to Chicago with my Dad in tow. There were plenty of other items on the agenda (eating deep dish pizza, visiting the Bean, heading to the top of Sears Tower) but our trip was planned around Wrigley Field and the Cubs’ home schedule.

Thursday morning I caught up on emails and social media before heading out for a day of sightseeing and tourist attractions. I saw that a key influencer in the communications industry was in Chi-Town for a business meeting and a speech. He asked if anyone was interested in grabbing coffee before he headed back to LGA.

Most of the time, I’m convinced my parents have absolutely no idea what I do for a living. My dad asked if I was posting pictures to Twitter of our carrot cake Wednesday night. He got an A for effort. The only reason he cares about Facebook is because they are now a publicly traded company and he owns shares of Zuck’s stock.

So when I asked if he was cool with me meeting an older guy from the interwebs for some coffee, I was expecting a pretty chilly reaction. Much to my surprise, he asked if this was important to me. It was. Off we went.

I’d like to thank Peter Shankman for sitting down to talk PR (and life) with me. There is nothing comparable to meeting someone you respect and admire for their success, especially when your passions align. I even had the chance to pitch a client’s new product. Now I get to leave the Windy City with great Instagram photos, a stomach full of Chicago hot dogs, and a new connection under my belt to bring back to my office. I’d consider that a successful four-day trip.

What did I learn about this when situation? Maybe it’s not that important to be entirely offline. Disconnecting is always healthy and a way to stay refreshed, but you never want to be so isolated that you miss opportunities that can happen outside of a cubicle. Another important lesson for professionals my age: there are people out there willing to chat with a newly minted graduate. Grow a pair. Put down the cell phone. Nothing beats face to face networking.

You Are Now the Mayor of …

After an interesting development this evening, I started thinking about the possibility of someone in our generation lying about their whereabouts and what they are doing on any given evening. For people our age (Generation Millenial or whatever we are known as), every aspect of our lives is documented through social media, whether we like it or not.

I like to think I have control over what I broadcast about myself over the internet but I know that really isn’t the case. I choose when to check in on FourSquare and what to mupload to Facebook/ Twitter/ Instagram/ etc. My accounts are followed by fellow professionals, coworkers and most importantly, my mother. Just as I tried to make sure want professors in college didn’t know if I had gone out the night before their class (damn you insufferable bar stamps), I am becoming more proactive about what and how I say via the internet.

So what happens when we tell a person we will be some place (like at home for the night), we purposely do not check in or tweet or post about our location, and then someone else tags us at a bar or out galavanting somewhere downtown. Wham. Right there on creepy feed, Mark Zuckerberg blowing up our spot. Definitely not streaming Netflix but instead out for a night on the town. Dirty little secrets aired to the public, All American Rejects style.

When public check-ins were becoming more popular, stories stated to hit the news about wives catching their husbands in affairs. The men were tagged in places nowhere near their homes or offices after telling their wives they were working late. Even if they were covering their tracks, a buddy could have checked them in at a sports bar or a strip club or anywhere they weren’t supposed to be, without even realizing the potential disasters. Like any tech-savvy person, the immediate next step was to start lying and checking in places they clearly weren’t.

Let’s ignore the bigger issue of people having to lie to their significant others. What is the appropriate course of action for us to take when we catch someone in this lie? Are we allowed to saw a person wasn’t where he or she claimed to be because a photo on our newsfeed said so? Or is that consider “stalking?”

For now, I would like to think I took the mature road by not posting a snarky comment on the photo that popped up on my mind, even though I clearly caught this person in a lie. My reaction was much more adult-like and sophisticated.

I’m giving this person the silent treatment.


P&G Unveils New “Thank You, Mom” Ad for London Olympics

Grab a tissue for this one. Less than 100 days until the London 2012 Summer Olympics kick off and Procter & Gamble kicked it off with this amazing “Thank You, Mom” advertising campaign.

ESPN Advertising Hits Another Home Run

“Have you ever wondered what it would be like to share a name with a superstar? Here, we follow an ordinary man who has been saddled with a legendary name. It’s not crazy, it’s sports.”

Already watched it three times. I want to hug this guy and he isn’t even real.

Avoid the Cyber-Stalkers: Maintaining Your Internet Privacy

Why Combining Social Media Sites Can Be Hazardous to Your Privacy

Sometimes we don’t realize how much information we are giving away to the creepers of the world by checking in and tweeting and posting our locations.

Tomorrow’s goal: upgrade the privacy levels on ALL of my social media applications.

Best April Fool’s Joke (And it involves cute dogs)

A big hat tip to my friend Chase for pointing this adorable April Fool’s joke out to me. He is a huge fan of Warby Parker, the custom eyewear brand that I think is only meant for hipsters. (He is not a hipster by any means). The brand rolled out a custom line for canines yesterday and reintroduced themselves as Warby “Barker.” Love.

The Original Street Style: Outfit your pet in our new Canine Collection

And as a true PR person, I am glad to see they got some ink in the Washington Post for their poodle prank!

Chad Ochocinco Takes 200 Strangers Out To Dinner — Daily Intel

Say what you want about his field performance (or lack thereof this season), but Chad Ochocinco/Johnson is one of the FUNNIEST athletes on Twitter. Whether it is giving out tickets to playoff games and taking strangers out for free meals, you’ve got to respect the man for completely breaking down the barrier that used to exist between the athlete and the fan.

Give him a follow. Even if it is just to laugh at the photos he posts of his outfits or nonsense he says about his fiance.

Chad Ochocinco Takes 200 Strangers Out To Dinner — Daily Intel.

MLA is Keeping Up With the Times

Like so many of you, I get most of my news from Twitter.

It is no surprise then that the Modern Language Association has developed a standard method for citing tweets in research papers.

Now you can tell yourself that your procrastinating is actually research!

How Do You Cite a Tweet in an Academic Paper? - Alexis Madrigal - Technology - The Atlantic

Read more: How Do You Cite a Tweet in an Academic Paper? – Alexis Madrigal – Technology – The Atlantic.