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?

Women Who Were Badasses This Week: A Brief Summary

There’s been a lot of ordinary women this week doing extraordinary things so I felt a brief recap was entirely necessary. AND IT’S ONLY WEDNESDAY. Image

  • Starting off with my girl Wendy Davis. Have you heard about the Texas State Senator who stood yesterday for eleven hours in a filibuster to delay a vote that would lead to the most restrictive abortion laws in the state? (Wendy, looks like you’re well-prepped for a dance marathon.) She’s pretty incredible – Davis herself became a single mother at 19, she became the first in her family to graduate college and then went on to Harvard Law. Casual. I predict big things for her in the coming years. And since she gained 80k+ Twitter followers in ONE DAY, I think it’s safe to say the world iswatching her.
  • Most people in their 80s are retired, enjoying peaceful lives filled with shuffleboard, bingo and maybe a round of golf. Edie Windsor took on the Supreme Court. And won. And looked absolutely flawless in the process. Windsor has a busy celebratory weekend ahead of her – she’s the grand marshal in New York City’s Pride Parade this Sunday. 
  • Moving on to another female politician (why aren’t there more of them? A debate for another time). Rep. Tammy Duckworth, the Iraq War vet who lost both of her legs, straight SCHOOLED a federal contractor who said he should be a service-disabled veteran because of a football injury. From when he was on the football team at a military prep school. You tell that asshole. 
  • Honorable mention: Peggy Olson. Because she’s the new Don Draper. 

Anyone else I miss? Here’s to two more days of kicking ass. 

Addressing the Loneliness

Graduating college and leaving the comfort of a small, insulated bubble of a town puts you in this interesting predicament. You’re straddling the edges of two worlds and the people you felt closest to are off in different pockets of the country.

Two years later, I haven’t fully adjusted to being hundreds and thousands of miles away from my best friends. You Gchat. Text. Tweet. Email. Group text. Group chat. Snapchat (this is where I draw the line). You feel so uber connected and you know exactly what is going on in their lives but nothing compares to unexpected two-hour lunches or knowing exactly what happy hour you will be attending every, single night of the week. Nothing beats walking out the front door of your shady, seedy apartment building and bumping into familiar faces while walking to class.

No one tells you that graduation is lonely or that you’ll become a pro at figuring out the time in Colorado or California or Hawaii. (Time zones…fucking time zones.) Never mind if you have friends in serious relationships that need to schedule dinner dates and work around business trips. Planning six weeks in advance to see your friends blows. You become a slave to your Google calendar with its colored labels; you sign up for credit card that gives you frequent flier miles. No matter how connected you may be or how often you speak, there is the nagging truth that you will be able to count on your hands the number of times you will all be in one place again.

Once you start adding marriages and kids into the mix, the reality is every day has turned into major football weekends to once a year to only significant life occasions.

So how do you make this a positive thing? You sit back and look at the afternoons spent outside on your favorite bar’s back porch and and the nights spent in random living rooms watching bad television. These are the people who have made a monumental impact on the greatest four years of your life. Even if it you don’t seem them NEARLY as much as you’d like, you know they’ll always be a part of your life. Regardless of zip code, time zone, marital status or permanent address.

That doesn’t feel lonely at all.

A Tuesday Morning Not Much Different Than Today

It was a Tuesday morning with not a cloud in the gorgeous blue September sky. A day not much different from today. An ordinary day.

If you looked at the front page of today’s New York Times, you wouldn’t know it was a day with such extraordinary history. A day of loss and sorrow and confusion. It seems eleven years later we are supposed to be ready to move on and go back to a life of pretending today is an ordinary day filled with schedules and tasks. Today has never felt ordinary to me. This day will never feel ordinary. Now, even more than ever, it is important for us to remember. To reflect. To vow no such thing will happen again.

I remember a seventh grade English class. A kid leaving to go to the bathroom and coming back to say the President had been shot. Teachers speaking in hushed whispers in the halls. Corralling us all into the cafeteria, no information and all speculation. Even the most imaginative mind of a preteen could not have accurately predicted the day’s events. That was the problem with a NYC public school on this day. You could not tell us what had happened. Every single one of us had a relative or close family friend working in Manhattan. And if they didn’t, they had a father or mother or brother or uncle who was a cop, a fireman. This was Staten Island. EVERYONE is related somehow to a cop.

So we sat. And we talked. Not realizing that so many of us would have parents who could not make it home that night because roads and bridges and tunnels were closed. We did not understand the extent of this destruction until we learned days later about the parents who would never be coming home.

Now, I remember all too clearly the dark, dreary grey smoke that blanketed every borough of New York City. I remember the continuous loop of the news cycle showing the planes hitting the Towers. I remember the inability to make any phone call for days because the cell tower had gone down with the Towers’ collapse.

The sudden slew of “I love New York” shirts and “FDNYPD” hats that became commonplace in our wardrobes. The America flags flown from every house, whipping in the wind of every car window. The learning of new words… Terrorist. Osama bin Laden. Cantor Fitzgerald.

Attending memorials, not funerals, for first responders whose bodies were never found. Hearing the bagpipes of Amazing Grace play in person for the first time at a service for a friend’s father, who was a member of the firehouse on Staten Island that lost the most men.

Years later, driving down side streets of Staten Island that have been renamed to honor lives lost and ordinary men and women who became heroes. The pride in the New York Mets for refusing to listen to Bud Selig as he said the team could not wear commemorative caps on the 10 year anniversary.

There is no way to entirely move on. It will not take eleven years. There is no way to accept an attack on your home, on your country, and continue to go about your day without remembering.

There is no way to diminish the price I feel every time I walk off a train to see the Freedom Tower rising proudly from the ashes, flipping off the terrorists who thought they could squash our New Yorker spirit and our American patriotism.

There is an obligation now to make sure the future generations learn about this day and its significance. It is our duty.

Because we must Never Forget.

Why I Hate Valentine’s Day and Why It’s Not Hallmark’s Fault

Before I begin, let me start by saying this will not be a stereotypical rant about how I hate Valentine’s Day because it has become so commercialized and your man/boy/dog should treat you lovingly all year round and the color combination of pink and red makes me want to vomit. While most of this is true, no. This is about how boys have the tendency to do some REALLY stupid things when it comes to giving their ladyfriends gifts. And how it gives me hives just thinking about it.

Here are some examples. My high school boyfriend bought me a Build-A-Bear for Hanukkah while we were dating. No supplemental gift. Just a stuffed animal. And he was so proud of himself because he dressed it up in a Mets uniform. Seventeen may seem young to me now but I felt like it was more appropriate for a 7-year-old. I was glad when we broke up (for many reasons) but mostly so I could send it to the trash. Note to all boys: save the stuffed animals for people who haven’t gone through puberty.

Now the opposite end of the spectrum. I am thankful that this happened to a friend and not myself. (Although it does prove that it isn’t just boys I date.) For their first Christmas, this individual bought his girlfriend a vibrator and a pair of sexy dice.

I’m not making this up. Really.

Why he thought this was a good idea… beats me. Yes, it is practical. Yes, it is gift that has a longer shelf/drawer life than a dozen roses. But when your parents ask what your boyfriend got you for Christmas, what do you say? A back massager? I don’t need to tell you why this was a bad gift. Just… don’t do this. Please. Anyone.

The worst gift I have EVER received was from the boy I was dating for my 20th birthday. We had been dating for a while so I requested jewelry. There were a few requirements: No rings, No hearts, Nothing yellow gold. Pretty simple. I received this.

It was a disaster. It said “I love you” all the way around the ring. I have never been so upset opening something that came in a Tiffany’s box. If I said no hearts, what, I love you is somehow okay? It looked like a wedding band. I SAID NO RINGS FOR A REASON. And, on top of all of this awfulness, it turned my finger green after I wore it for a day. What a blessing in disguise. I didn’t feel like SUCH an asshole when I made him return it. (You honestly thought I would keep this? You’re outside your damn mind.) I ended up picking out my own gift. We are also no longer dating.

Come on guys. Girls have plenty of friends. Gchat them, tweet them, Facebook message them. You will avoid making these stupid, stupid decisions. And if you insist on being “original” and “romantic,” stop. Just stick to dinner and a movie. Cook her dinner, go out for dinner, stream a movie on Netflix, drop $32.50 on tickets to an iMax. Whatever. Make sure to check for allergies first. Your girlfriend will thank you.

Happy Valentine’s Day. I will be hibernating from now until February 15th.

(Although if someone does plan to buy me a box of chocolates, I insist it has a map. No one likes accidentally biting into coconut.)

Testing, testing

Is this thing on?

After MUCH deliberation, I decided it was my time to join the blogosphere. What can I say – I have a lot of feelings. I welcome you to the dangerous place that is my brain. I plan on using this as a platform to discuss my opinions on things that are going on in the world, what it is like to live with your parents after graduation and update on the plenty of frivolous purchases I am bound to make. I hope it is a decent mix of professional and personal updates but there is a good chance it will just be a lot of sass and sarcasm.

Welcome. It should be a fun ride.