You will laugh, but when I was in college I actually said I would never work at a PR agency. I giggle at this myself when I realize it’s been almost eight years since I started at Obsidian! What a great decision I made back in 2008! But, here’s the thing: agency life isn’t for everyone. There are very specific types of people who thrive in an agency environment, so here are three of the big things I think you should know about agency life.
- Fast-paced doesn’t even begin to describe our work environment. It can be thrilling (albeit stressful) to work at an agency like ours because there is never a dull moment. Deadlines are fast and furious, and I can easily respond to 10 emails, consult on a client crisis and write a dang good news release within a 30-minute timespan. If you like a slower pace, an agency may not be the best fit for you.
- No day is the same, and this is exciting! I have worked in a “one-client” workplace before. I loved that job and organization, but after working at Obsidian, I’m not sure I could ever go back. When I was an account manager, I worked with no less than 10 clients. I was never bored because I could work on a nonprofit then switch to a health care client all in the same hour! This is a perk of agency life, but beware of agencies where your only account is one of the largest at the firm (because guess what happens if that account goes away….).
- Client happiness is king when you’re at an agency. As an outside vendor, we are always evaluated by what value we bring to clients. When working at an agency, your job is just as much about client happiness as it is about completing tasks. If the client isn’t happy, then that client simply moves on to the next agency.
- You become a semi-expert in things like atmospheric gases and steel metal building manufacturing. Working at an agency affords you a chance to wear many hats and become knowledgeable of industries you never imagined you would work in (and actually enjoy). While you don’t have to know everything possible about the chemical breakdown of hydrogen dioxide gases, you have to know enough to speak the language to industry and local media outlets.
- There is a difference between the “big guys” and the “little guys” in the PR agency world. Obsidian PR is one of the largest standalone PR firms in our area, but definitely not on par with those like Edelman, The Richards Group and Burson-Marsteller. Boutique agencies like ours have a different type of culture than large, multi-located agencies. You have to decide what you prefer. (For our team, there’s nothing better than being “Straight Outta Obsidian.”)
Any other things you think are important to know about agency life? Comment below!