By: Emma Churgin
At PRSSA ICON 2022 I was fortunate enough to listen to three excellent speakers about the behind-the-scenes look into agency life. These speakers were Jennifer Little: the Executive Vice President and Texas market leader at BCW, Scott Pansky: Co-Founder and Senior Partner at Allison+Partners and Valerie Beesley: Vice President at Finn Partners.
The key takeaway from the speakers was the importance of connection-building. An essential type of connection that was emphasized was mentorship. This is crucial for gaining professional insight and many mentors are willing to help get the younger generation started in the industry. We were given a tool, Netnetsynergy a site founded by another speaker, Matt Prince. This site helps connect to 200+ professionals who are willing to be a contact and mentor to others. Informational interviews are an amazing tool as well, to learn more about a company and specific position while building your network. These can take place over coffee, at an office, or virtually in a more casual sense. Hiring managers take note of people who show curiosity. They had said to drop the expectation of getting a job during the interview and have a more personable conversation.
When the speakers were asked about why they prefer working in an agency rather than in-house they said that it is a personal preference. Scott Pansky has been at Allison+Partners for over 21 years. Making it very clear he has loved agency life and is not planning on leaving it just yet. He said he is “having fun in the sandbox – the day I’m not having fun is the day I find a new sandbox.” I appreciated the way he had a youthful view of his career by comparing it to a sandbox. It was also said that agency is about the people, you are given the chance to work with so many different people which allows you to gain more insight.
With Gen Z being the future of the industry it is important to note how PR is evolving. With that, Valerie said that agencies need to be more aware of their audience reach and start making more integrated campaigns. Utilizing multiple channels will gain more reach for the client and implies that there is a unified tone as to which the stakeholders can connect with. Another prediction for the industry that Jennifer had brought up related to the controversy that currently surrounds Twitter. With the mystery of where Musk is taking the company Agencies to need to be aware of other platforms going in a similar direction. Lastly, press releases have been in the industry forever, Scott believes that they are not going anywhere, however, he believes they will evolve with the industry due to the changing environment.
One last question was asked prior to wrapping up with the speakers; If you had to offer advice, what would it be? The advice given was; don’t be shy and share your voice in meetings. Companies need younger opinions and we have the freshest ideas in order to help them evolve. Stay curious; keep asking questions and never stop learning. Lastly, we need to be ok with making mistakes. The mistakes we make help us learn about ourselves and help us grow. The advice given really resonated with me and I appreciate all the speakers taking their time to help us.
Being able to attend ICON this year in Dallas has been such an amazing experience. I am truly grateful I got the opportunity to learn from such admirable professionals.