Whether you call it “The Big Quit” or “The Great Resignation,” as a PR pro, you’ve likely felt the pinch of this year’s acute talent shortage. You might even be considering making a move yourself. And, if you’re reading this, a move to any agency — or between agencies — might be on your radar.
As someone who works at a PR agency, I think it’s a great choice. Many agencies are in need of talent at all levels and work in an agency often presents opportunities for flexibility, continued professional development and upward career mobility.
However, before you make a change, it’s worth doing your homework. Not all agencies are created equal and what looks great in a job description might not actually fit you professionally — or personally.
As you explore different agencies as part of your next career move, there are many questions to ask yourself. Based on my time as an early-career professional at both boutique and global agencies, here are a few worth considering:
Does the agency provide the training you need to do your job well?
Regardless of the stage of your career, training is important — especially when you’re moving to a new job.
Some agencies pride themselves on the ability to help upskill entry-level talent. If you are a recent college graduate or new PR professional, that might include PR basics and working in an agency setting. I learned how to build media lists — where to go, what to look for, etc. — and other media relations basics during my time as a PR Assistant at BLASTmedia.
For seasoned PR professionals, training might include processes for tools used at the agency or best practices to meet client goals and objectives. If continued professional development is important to you, you might also want to ask about continuing education beyond the training offered during onboarding, such as:
- How the agency keeps teams up-to-date on new PR industry developments
- Training to help employees get up to speed on new clients and new client industries
- Leadership training, including how to be a better manager and education about the agency operations
Does the agency have the tech you need to do your job?
Even with all the training in the world, pulling a media list without a media database is more time-consuming and cumbersome!
Google is great, but when clients want to compare themselves against competitors, a media monitoring tool that allows you to quickly pull metrics like share of voice is a major win. This keeps you from spending so much time and effort looking into competitor coverage one by one. It also allows you to keep a pulse on what competitors are talking about in real-time.
Reporting tools, like a PR CRM, save clients from asking questions when they can pull the information they need themselves, eliminating unnecessary back-and-forth emails and giving you back time in your day to work on proactive PR efforts.
Technology also shouldn’t be limited to PR tools. For example, BLASTmedia uses a project management tool called Monday.com. It helps with organization and keeps projects moving — especially when you’re sharing assets. Having one place to store information, where others can check the status of projects on their own time, is extremely helpful. Other communication tools outside of email, like Slack, also help with collaboration, allowing teams to work together to share insights or new ideas and ask questions.
Do employees get client visibility?
Different agencies have different stances on who should be the point of contact with the client. In my experience, junior employees sometimes know more of the ins and outs of the day-to-day operations than more senior employees — like Directors and VPs — because they’re the ones executing. If it’s important to you to work in a place where you can share updates about what you’ve been working on directly with clients, make sure to ask about client visibility.
Having client visibility doesn’t necessarily mean you’re the only —or even the primary — person speaking with the client. Here are specific areas where you might want to be involved, even if the job description doesn’t focus on account management:
- Sharing updates on client calls
- Sending or responding to client emails
- Joining planning meetings with the client
Does the agency value its employees?
Ultimately, if you’re investing your time, talent and energy into an agency, you want them to recognize the value you bring. Unfortunately, some agencies view employees as a commodity that can be used and replaced.
Uncovering how much an agency values its employees can be challenging and you’ll likely need to do some of your own research. Signals to look for:
- Has the agency received culture awards? While you can be a great place to work without a “Best Places to Work” trophy, these kinds of awards are a good indicator that a company is making an effort to create a culture worth spotlighting.
- Do employees share about the work they are doing — such as sharing client successes — on LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.? Employees taking pride in the work they do can signal a culture of celebration. What’s even more telling? Who is liking or commenting on those posts. Other employees publicly celebrating their colleagues’ successes is a great indicator that the agency is also acknowledging those wins internally.
- Are employees writing company blogs on interesting topics? Companies willing to lift up employees as thought leaders are showing the value they place on employee expertise. Don’t limit your search to blogs — review awards, press releases and other tools agencies have in their arsenal to highlight employees.
Outside of your own research, consider asking the recruiter or hiring lead to share information about company turnover rates. Or, ask them to connect you to a current employee, specifically one who holds a role similar to the one you’re considering. You can then ask them about personal interactions with supervisors, which can signal what kind of people you might work with and how the organization treats employees. Do they feel empowered to ask questions and follow-up questions? Do they receive feedback from supervisors that helps them grow in their work?
For many “The Great Resignation” will mean growth opportunities. Asking questions about what the agency can provide — from technology and training to client visibility and acknowledgment of value — before making a career move, can help ensure you’re making the most of the change.
By Jaclyn Pullen is a PR Manager at BLASTmedia, the only PR agency dedicated to B2B SaaS