Almost a year ago, I started working with one of the largest PR firms in the world. Name a city and we have an office there. Name a practice and we do it.
One of my fellow contributors wrote a post on why working for a small agency is good for your career. While I agree with her points, there are considerable benefits my fellow contributor didn’t mention about working at a large PR firm.
1. It doesn’t take that long to work with the “big guys,” as long as you’re opportunistic. Three months into being at my new agency, I was already working on a project directly for one of the top executives in the New York office. At a large agency, these opportunities are not as rare as they seem. But you also have to jump at the chance as soon as it’s offered before someone else does!
2. Everyone has a specialty, but isn’t necessarily specialized. My fellow contributor made a point that your role can become too narrow at a big agency, and you become too specialized. While I specialize in communications for the financial services industry, I can honestly say that I’ve worked on almost everything: event management, media relations, social media, communications strategy. The amount that you can accomplish in just a year is incredible, as long as you work hard.
3. Even though you might be a small fish, you still get tons of exposure. When you work at a big agency, you work closely with everyone: from EVPs to interns. You see or speak to clients on a weekly basis, present at new business pitches, and your work is visible to high-level executives. You work on small teams, large teams, small accounts and large accounts.
4. The learning is magnified. Just like you would learn a lot and understand the value of teamwork at a smaller agency, it’s the same at a large agency--just on a much bigger scale. My fellow contributor wrote that compared to a large agency, at a small agency, you get to learn “how the agency is run, how to bring in new business, how to run a team, how to deal with crisis and problems and how to recruit new team members.” Think about learning all of that, only on a macro scale and that’s what you’ll get at a big agency.
1. You get to expand your network threefold. If you can do this well, you’ll thrive at a large agency. Coworkers, clients, industry peers--in the same office, across the country, or even across the world. With a large agency, you have access to intelligent people that you otherwise may not have met. Even if you’re a networking novice, you’ll learn very quickly how to access the people and brains you need to get the work done.
2. There are resources to get creative to solve a problem. And I’m not talking about only funds, but human capital too. At a large agency, if you have a client challenge you need to solve, you can pull in additional funds or creative minds to help you solve it--all in a timely manner. This is not something you might always have accessible in a smaller agency.
3. You learn how to thrive in a demanding business environment. PR agency life is tough: it’s demanding, it’s cutthroat, and it’s competitive. Once you’re no longer the new kid on the block, you learn very quickly how to thrive in that environment. And the good news is, if you can make it here...you can make it anywhere.
4. Oh yes, the bragging rights! Large, reputable PR firms are easily recognized and well-regarded in the industry. They’re known for the great work they do. This is true of my agency as well: numerous times I’ve been approached by clients, former employees, and industry peers because of the agency name on my name tag. People know what it takes to be successful and thrive in that environment. Those bragging rights give you more pride in where you work and what you do.
Julia Sahin works in corporate communications for financial services at one of the largest PR firms in New York and is a monthly contributor to Muck Rack. She is a recent graduate from the Master’s program in PR and Corporate Communications at NYU and was the first to publish academic research about regulation, reputation, and megabanks. She plans on doing big things. All opinions should be seen as her own and do not reflect her employer’s.
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