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How to thrive in a PR agency

PR experts suggest ten ways to shine in a PR agency, and we discover why being reliable is the most important attribute of all.

From Rachel Rix, associate director at PR firm Ketchum London:

Don’t be afraid to have an opinion. “It can be daunting to give your point of view when you feel you might be judged or be saying the wrong thing. The truth is it’s always good to give a fresh perspective. It means you stand out from the crowd and also helps to spark ideas and inspiration in others. Clients will always want to hear your point of view and the same goes for your colleagues.”

Be inquisitive. “Seek out up and coming trends, download emerging social media platforms such as TikTok and digest new and different forms of media. This will ensure you always stay ahead of the evolving communications landscape. It also equips you with relevant, timely information which you can share with colleagues and clients to add value.”

Get involved in new business. “Helping on new business is a brilliant way to learn the fundamentals of the PR process. Whether it’s interrogating a brief, brainstorming, helping to pull a proposal together or pitching it to prospective clients, it can be a very exciting challenge. It also gives you exposure to other people in the agency at all levels.”

Try a new cultural experience every month. “This could be going to a free art exhibition, a gig with a difference, checking out street art or visiting a cool pop up. All of these new experiences will help to feed your creativity, giving you fresh ideas to bring to the table.”

From Jo Cresswell, associate partner at agency Milk & Honey PR:

Be brave. “Put your hand up for things that you might not yet know how to do and relish the fact that there will be learning involved. The more you do this, the more visible you’ll become in your agency and the more opportunities you’ll be given.”

Be honest. “Mistakes happen and, unfortunately, sometimes they may be your mistake. Don’t hide from this. The quicker you identify an issue and communicate this, the quicker it can be resolved. I personally believe the best learning comes from making mistakes.”

Be passionate. “Passion isn’t demonstrated by working until 10pm every night, but instead by having a genuine enjoyment and commitment for the work you do. This can manifest itself in many different ways, from always taking pride in your work, through to networking with industry peers to understand best practice, through to going that extra mile without being asked.”

From Tom Chapman, publishing specialist at digital agency CandidSky :

Be humble. “Never walk into an office and assume you have all the answers. You’ll be working alongside people who have been in the business for years and they will have different experiences and approaches to you. Even those fresh out of university might have a better understanding of how something works. As a result, give everyone a chance.

“Therefore, while broadcasting your achievements will certainly get you noticed, being humble and recognising these truths will go a long way to ensuring your standing in the eyes of your team.”

Be inclusive. “One of the biggest problems in some agencies is a ‘silo mentality’. For example, the content team can have different goals than the search team. Consequently, one of the best ways to do well in an agency is to ensure all teams are working towards the same goal. No team is more important than another and should have consistent objectives to ensure success.”

Above all, be reliable

Shalon Roth co-author of How to Succeed in a PR Agency: Real Talk To Grow Your Career & Become Indispensable and founder of comms collective PR-it, describes why reliability has to be your number one attribute if you want to succeed:

“At a PR agency, serving many masters (clients, bosses, team) leads to a daily juggling act of requests changing in priority by the hour. Against this high-energy and chaotic backdrop, the best way to standout is to be reliable 99.9% of the time and consistently deliver high-quality work no matter the circumstance (as there will always be hurdles).

Harvard Business Review’s 10-year study that analysed 2,000 CEO leadership assessments identified four key behaviours for success of which delivering reliably was the most important. The most reliable CEOs were twice as likely to land such a role in the first place and 15 times more likely to succeed in it. Take note PROs, whilst you may not be an executive now, following through on your commitments big and small will build a sterling reputation amongst your many masters, who may have influence over that next promotion.

“Whilst delivering reliably gets you in the game, delivering quality wins it. Thoughtful counsel and pristine, thorough work will contribute to building client trust and organic account growth, bolstering team morale. A happy team, with happy clients and growing revenues, will encourage your boss to sing your praises and advocate to advance your career.”

'Reliable’ may not be the sexiest word, but it’s definitely the quality to nurture if you want to get ahead in the agency world.

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