When I started my own PR career as an account assistant (many moons ago), I wanted big-name brands, a bit of glamour and, most of all, a good salary. Money was the most important factor for me – as it is for many new execs. From listening to those we interview at junior level, who are dealing with sky-high London living costs, this is now even more pressing.
Honestly, of course money will always remain a major consideration while scaling the PR career ladder, but when do other things start coming into play? Where’s the point at which a job turns into a career, and you start to think bigger than client work? I reckon that reaching Account Manager or Account Director level is the pivotal point. At this level, PR professionals begin to define what they like, and think about what’s important for their agency and their sector. you have your own vision and ideas bigger than a story or campaign. It’s this stage that will define how an individual grows in the industry, and also when they’ll inevitably start thinking about which agency will serve them best.
When an Account Manager is thinking of sticking or twisting, they should actually forget about money. Instead, it’s all about your prospects and the ability and opportunity to influence and change things. Have a good think about what you want to be achieving as a consultant, and what you enjoy most. What do you want from your worklife? Is it the desire to work with a favourite brand, the wish to try and influence an agency’s path, or flexibility working hours and the opportunity to freelance? Don’t be restricted by the job-spec, as the more you desire, the more successful you will be. The question remains as to whether your existing agency can or will adapt to allow you as an individual to grow.
From the other side, as an Account Director who now deals with recruiting myself, it is this personal drive that interests me most in candidates. Everyone has a big brand name or three on their CV, so those don’t impress me much. Instead, it’s all about what someone did for the business through PR – I want to know what they gained for the brand, how they shaped the account, and how creative they can be. I want someone who will not only push themselves, but also challenge me and all of the agency too!
At Brazil, we know it’s essential for us all to maintain the desire to change and question the way we as an agency do things, and also how brands and the industry does things. The PR industry is changing a lot and it’ll be a different place in the coming five years: it’s time for people to put their cards on the table, and decide how their career in PR will work for them.