Every term UO PRSSA plans a trip to a different city to visit public relations and communications agencies. Portland, Seattle, San Francisco, Eugene, and soon to be Santa Monica, are a few of the cities PRSSA has visited and will be visiting in the future. Attending an agency tour has numerous benefits, however, you may still be unsure about what those are. If so, here are five reasons why you should go on an agency tour.
Attending an agency tour allows you to make face-to-face connections with professionals in cities you may not have other opportunities to visit. By attending an agency tour, you are able to create connections with professionals that may lead to internships or jobs. By making these connections in person, your professional relationships become stronger and you’re likely to make a lasting impression.
Professional Q&A sessions take up a large quantity of time on agency tours. During these sessions, you are able to practice asking questions you may ask in an informational interview at an agency. You are also able to network with the professionals in the offices and are able to practice your elevator pitch. The agencies we visit want to get to know you and help hone your skills.
We visit many different kinds of PR, communications and marketing agencies on our tours. The agencies we visit focus on industries ranging from tech, lifestyle, food & beverage, fashion, hospitality, consumer, business-to-business, and more. We also visit agencies that are small and boutique, or large and global sized. If you are unsure about what areas of PR you might be interested in, this is a great way to explore and learn more.
Attending an agency tour also means you get to know fellow PRSSA members. It is always great to make new friends (especially those who share your major) and attending an agency tour is a perfect way to bond!
Visiting a new city with PRSSA will open your eyes to new places. Going on an agency tour provides you with the opportunity to enjoy an awesome city for a few days. By the end of the tour you may even find your new home post graduation. Either way, you are guaranteed to have amazing new experiences and connections after attending a PRSSA agency tour.
Tatiana Skomski is a junior studying public relations. She is originally from San Diego, California, and loves spending time with her dog. After she graduates, she hopes to relocate to Souther California and begin her career working at an agency. Tatiana specifically wants to work in lifestyle and consumer branding public relations.
It can often be nerve-racking or even intimidating to go on PR agency tours in different cities. You are meeting PR professionals who could potentially hire you one day for your dream job. However, when going on an agency tour, there are a few things to remember that can help you get the most out of it and have an experience that will benefit your future.
Do your research.
Before going on an agency tour do your own research on the agency or agencies you are visiting. Find out what type of PR they focus on, who their clients are and the size of the agency. After some basic research on the agency itself, read over their employee bios to find out more about the people who work at the agency. This will give you a better picture of what the agency culture is really like.
While you are researching, brainstorm potential questions you would like to ask. Think beyond the generic questions you can answer yourself by looking at their website and ask questions that will make you stand out. Also, ask questions that show you have done your research. Mention specific clients you know they have worked with based on the research you have done, not just what they are telling you on the tour itself.
Be professional and courteous.
Remember, the agency you are visiting is taking time out of their busy schedules to educate you on what their agency does. Be respectful of that and engage with the professionals who are conducting the tour. Say, “Thank you for your time, I really appreciated learning more about your agency.” When it comes to networking after a general presentation, remember not to jump the gun by giving them your resume or business card. Unless the moment is right, this will give the wrong impression.
Dress to impress.
It is very important when going on any agency tour to dress appropriately and in business professional attire. It is always better to be overdressed than underdressed. Slacks, pencil skirts, appropriate blouses, blazers and closed toed pumps or flats are appropriate for women. Men should wear slacks with a dress shirt and dress shoes. Blazers and ties are also appropriate.
An extensive personal network is a valuable tool for any budding public relations professional, and agency tours are a great way to build these relationships. UO PRSSA recently visited three agencies in Seattle: Edelman, Weber Shandwick and Porter Novelli. Here are a few tips on how to follow up after agency tours to build your personal network:
Connect with the professionals on social media. Reach out to the professionals you spoke to and request a connection on LinkedIn. Personalize each request by mentioning something that specific person said. Also, follow the professionals on Twitter, tweet a thank you and engage with their tweets.
Send a thank you email. Did any particular people stand out? Thank them for their time and note an aspect of the agency that you enjoyed. If any conversations or tips reminded you of an article, include the article in the email. Be specific but concise, and keep the email under two paragraphs. Aim to send the email within a week of the agency tour. Also, don’t send a resume unless you were asked to – you don’t want to be pushy, you want to show your gratitude.
Want to go the extra mile? Send a handwritten thank you card instead. Be sure to send your card as soon as possible. Like the email, the handwritten thank you note should be personalized.
Cultivate a sustainable relationship. Don’t send one email and never reach out again. Check in every six months or so by sharing a relevant article or engaging on LinkedIn. But remember, networking is about mutuality. Don’t reach out to people to get something out of them – try to make every relationship mutually beneficial.
These tips also work for informational interviews! The key is to stay personal, engaged and courteous. Networking is about cultivating relationships; you have to give value to receive value.
What’s your take on networking? Share your tips for following up after agency tours in the comments below.
Kaitlyn Chock is a PRSSA project manager for the 2013-14 school year. You can contact Kaitlyn at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Agency life can be exciting yet intimidating. As public relations students, we are often told that starting off in an agency is a great way to launch our careers in “the real world.” The big question that always seems to come up is “what does a PR agency even do?” To answer that question, our Chapter hosts agency tours every term in a different city. Agency tours give students a taste of what it’s like to work at an agency and see if its a right fit for them.
If you’re looking for insight on agency life, a UO PRSSA agency tour is the first step in the right direction. Agency tours are not only an opportunity to see the office space and surrounding city but also an opportunity to embrace the agencies’ culture. To understand the agencies’ culture, ask professionals who work there. Ask questions like:
It’s important to remember that professionals are taking time out of their day to meet and provide insight. Do not waste their time – research the company and its clients, and prepare to ask questions. Most importantly, absorb as much as you can!
If you have questions regarding upcoming agency tours, feel free to contact Abigaelle Mulligan at email@example.com.
Abigaelle Mulligan is 2013-2014 chapter liaison. She is passionate for booming culture within the realms of music, entertainment, and fashion. She hopes to pursue a career in corporate PR upon graduation. You can reach Abigaelle at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on twitter at @abbsmulligan.
During spring agency tours on Friday, May 3, the University of Oregon PRSSA chapter had the pleasure of sitting down with Bob Frause, CEO and founder of Frause in Seattle, Washington. In addition to his prominent role within the public relations industry, Frause is extensively involved with the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) as a member of the National Board of Directors and Past Chairman of the PRSA College of Fellows. He also sits on the PRSA Board of Ethics and Professional Standards. Frause’s substantial experience in the industry has allowed him the opportunity to develop several important tactics to help young professionals in the PR job search.
1) Remember that every interview is a real interview. In the process of looking for a job, informational interviews have become a popular tool for networking with professionals. However, just because you are not actively applying for an open position does not mean you should take it any less seriously. When you set up an informational interview, prepare for it in the same way you would for an interview for an open position. Make sure to research both your interviewer and the company. Be ready to ask he or she specific questions that show you have done your homework. By the end of the interview, you should make the professional wish he had on open position or room in his budget to hire you. You never know when this could lead to a job offer.
2) Put interests at the bottom of your resume or in your cover letter. Recently, many students have been advised not to include interests unrelated to public relations on their resume. Though according to Frause, curiosity outside the industry is something he looks for in a potential hire. If you are interested in travel or cooking, find a way to integrate these interests into how you present yourself because this will suggest that you are a more rounded and experienced individual. You also never know when these outside interests will coincide with client work making you an ideal person for the team.
3) Ask for a job and don’t take the first “no.” During an interview it is important to remember your self worth and prove that to your interviewer. If you don’t think you are the best person for the job there is no reason the person or people interviewing you will either. In Frause’s opinion, at some point during the interview, it is important to ask for the job. Though many times you will be told no, you can then spend the rest of the interview proving why you should be hired for that job. This tactic also shows self-confidence and your ability to be a leader. Frause admits this might not be a good tactic for all interviews, but suggests that you should be able to establish if this will work during initial research for the interview.
4) Get at least two professional contacts before you leave. At the end of an interview, make sure to thank them and ask to be put on the list for future open positions. This shows that you would like to continue a relationship with that person and the company. After thanking her, ask for any contacts they might have that you could use to expand your network. Frause’s advice is to leave with at least two new contacts that might be beneficial to you.
5) Create a graphic biography of yourself. One tool that Frause suggests is something he calls a graphic biography of yourself. This should be a roadmap of who you are as a person and a professional. You could use this in your portfolio or in an interview to help you stay focused on what you want to convey about yourself. This can also be useful to have in front of you during a telephone or Skype interview to help you steer the conversation and prevent you from forgetting something you wish to share about yourself.
6) Avoid misusing pronouns. Though sometimes this aspect of writing and speaking can be forgotten, Frause says that this is one of his main pet peeves and a mistake he encounters frequently. All grammar is important and proper use of pronouns contributes to your overall image as an educated individual.
Making the right impression during an interview – whether it is formal or simply an informational one – can make the difference in getting a job offer. Frause advises young professionals to be proactive, confident and unafraid to ask the hard questions during the job search. What do you think of Frause’s professional advice?