Friday, April 8, 2011

Lessons Learned in Chicago

While in Chicago this week on a PRSSA agency tour, I was able to visit four impressive PR agencies.  The lessons I learned are arranged below according to agency.

Ruder Finn
  • In an interview, a good question to ask is whether or not the company has professional development programs for employees.
  • A great method of networking is conducting informational interviews with industry professionals.
  • Correct AP style is an indicator of professionalism on resumes.
  • As an intern, have an open mind to a wide variety of tasks. Remember:  as an intern, you are proving you are worth hiring.
  • Online portfolios are becoming an industry standard to showcase an applicant’s work. 
  • Internships are typical starting points at PR agencies. It is highly unusual for a PR agency to hire an employee without him or her being an intern first.
  • Always be sure to "court" contacts; do not just ask for favors. Contacts will be more willing to help a friend than a stranger.
  • Do not be afraid to email or call an employer several times.  Emails are commonly buried beneath more time-sensitive material.
  • Big agencies can feel small.
  • Focus on the environment/corporate culture of an organization before accepting a position. 
  • Include numbers in your resume, and tailor a cover letter to compliment the posted job qualifications.
Weber Shandwick
  • Public relations professionals have made a career out of telling and selling stories.
  • Large agencies allow for creativity because they have less limited budgets, and their contacts are more widespread.
  • If you showcase your specific skill sets while interning, full time positions may be created to support your expertise.

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