When I first started out in public relations, wide-eyed and eager to take on the world, I joined a small boutique PR agency. I wanted to have a greater chance of standing out but I realized that this alone did not satisfy me.
I wanted to expand my skills, collaborate with a team of skilled professionals and just have more fun working on bigger, larger but also more demanding projects. That’s why I joined LEWIS. Here are some benefits of working in a mid-sized agency:
1. You will have (real) colleagues everywhere
In an era where global connectivity is the buzzword, the statement “we have a presence in XX countries” can often be just a placeholder in an agency’s credentials. Previously, I have never spoken to any of the partner agencies emblazoned at the back of my business card and the closest contact would be getting in touch to ask for a quotation for getting work done in that particular market.
At LEWIS, this is different. Every office is connected. As part of my induction I was speaking with colleagues in the region as if they were in the very office I was working in. There is a generous exchange of ideas and I noticed it first hand while I was pitching for a new account in my first month. Efforts are collaborative, with each office setting aside time for brainstorming and figuring out which ideas would and would not work. This ensured that our plans and proposals were aligned and this can lead to an extension of the client relationship from one market to another.
2. You can expand and use your skills
At smaller agencies it is likely that you will work on smaller accounts and you might be the only person working on them. There will be no interaction, exchange of ideas or even opportunities to grow the account. On the other hand, if you work on a large account you might only work on that one account. So there are limitations on how you could grow and expand your skills. Also, accounts might not always be assigned based on your expertise but on your available capacity – which is not a recipe for success.
When I first arrived at LEWIS, part of my new joiner’s orientation was to fill up a sheet with my related experience, clients I’ve worked with and the areas that I’m interested in. Not only did this help the company understand which person is suitable for which job, but it also identified the areas that I needed more training. Since joining, I’ve become more skilled at writing bylines and developing ideas for B2B clients, an area that I was not exposed to previously.
3. You can shape and improve processes
I used to think that timesheets are the bane of my life. Often I did not understand the benefits of processes as no one took the time to explain them to me. Also some were outdated – no one had time updating them, everyone was too busy winning and servicing new accounts.
At LEWIS, timesheets are actually looked at and analyzed! The analyzed data is then used as ammunition to combat over-servicing be it to negotiate for an increase in fees or a revision in the scope of work. We use different tools to track HR processes to continually see how we can improve and be more efficient, share media lists and manage projects across countries. We also have a best practice group to discuss and improve our practices. Talking about process and movement, there are also more opportunities to move within a larger agency – either into different divisions or also to another office.
The grass is not greener…
While the grass is not always greener on the other side, I have learnt that the grass will be green wherever you water it. So decide for yourself if the benefits of working in a larger company exceed those of working in a smaller company. I can’t tell you which decision will be the better for you – but I can help you by providing a quick overview:
GOOD THINGS ABOUT SMALL AGENCIES:
- You get to know everyone very well
- You will work closely with the clients (often directly with senior people)
- You will learn a little of everything. There are less people around, so everyone wears many hats
GOOD THINGS ABOUT BIG AGENCIES:
- It’s likely that the accounts will be bigger and you will be able to work on great concepts and campaigns (but that’s not saying this will not happen in a small agency, it might just be less likely)
- You can develop specific skills and become an expert – maybe a digital marketing guru or consumer technology specialist
- The creativity among the different people is incredible – there are lots of different insights, ideas and experiences
- There are more opportunities for movement within the organization and also lots more group collaboration
And finally, don’t forget to strike a balance
The challenge facing PR executives, who are just starting out is how do you draw that line between being on the ball and being at the beck and call of your client. Do you or do you not sync your emails over the weekends? Recent news of young executives being overworked drives home the message that there needs to be a balance. So here are 10 reasons why you should put down that wrap you’re eating in front of the office laptop, turn to your colleague and perhaps ask them out on a lunch date.
If you’re looking to progress your PR career in a fast-growing, ambitious global agency, then take a look at our current opportunities and join the LEWIS team!