The Agency Life
In the summer of 2013, I embarked upon a path that eventually led me to Northeastern University. I had just graduated with an M.B.A. in Marketing from Mumbai University and I was eager to commence my professional career. Having found my greatest ally in words and everything related to content, I joined Edelman a PR agency located in India, Mumbai as an Account Executive. Thus began my journey into the uncharted territory of a PR agency.
As the world’s largest PR agency, Edelman, offered me probably the steepest learning curve. I was reporting to not one but four supervisors heading different practice areas in the agency. The term ‘matrix structure’ which was until now just a textbook phenomenon had turned into a rather scary reality. In my year long stint with Edelman, my experiences ranged from rewarding to reprimanding. It was here that I witnessed first-hand the cut-throat competition, unrealistic client expectations, deadlines, journalist tantrums, and team conflicts. However, by the time I moved on to my next stint, I knew for sure that the day of a PR executive was no less than that of any super hero who was worthy of being the face of any ensemble cast. From saving distressed clients from the blushes to finding new allies in colleagues and fellow media persons, we did it all in a day’s time and were ready to take on new challenges the next day.
Super powers: disciplined, systematized and innovative
I joined Adfactors PR, India’s largest communications and PR consultancy after my year-long association with Edelman. It was here that I really understood the role and influence that a PR person can exude over clients and media alike.
Most working days of a PR executive starts with something known as a ‘to-do list’. This is generally e-mailed to you by the supervisor and you’re expected to tick-off all the enlisted tasks. But it only gets more intriguing from here on out because by the end of the day you’ve done something entirely different from what had been planned for you in the morning. No two days are similar in this industry and the term, ‘dynamic environment’ is only an understatement to describe the situation.
In order to keep on top of these ever-changing assignments, it is imperative for PR professional to be disciplined. Many-a-time, one is advised to develop the skill of multi-tasking, which is true but only to a certain extent. I say this with such conviction simply because without discipline in multi-tasking, you’re only going to wreck the multiple tasks at hand. One such instance that comes to mind is when a PR executive has more than one deliverable with the same deadline. Now, he can either focus on each task separately and deliver them on time or fall short of keeping all the commitments.
Another key aspect that I learned at Adfactors PR was that bringing structure to my work even basic mannerisms of reaching the office on time, decluttering the work area, and taking refreshment breaks at regular intervals, play a vital role in smoothly tackling even the most challenging work situations. When the work is organized it fosters in gaining composure in the midst of chaotic work schedules. Systematized work leads to innovation and creativity. Most PR professionals get to hear the phrase ‘think out-of-the-box’ from clients and supervisors. I believe that you can come up with creative campaign ideas and coherent communication strategies when they’re able to convincingly cope up with an array of tasks.
Reaping benefits and rewards
Although there are numerous challenges for a PR executive, so are the rewards. The euphoria of observing the success of a campaign or the elation of monitoring the growth of a brand can be best described only by being part of such PR teams. It is no less than breathing new life into something that was until now just a name or a symbol. But by implementing strategies and putting your super powers to optimum use, these names and symbols swiftly metamorphose into gigantic brands, envied and aspired by markets across geographies. Having garnered three years of PR agency experience in India, I came to Northeastern University last fall to learn, share and hone on my communication abilities with the brightest minds in the industry.
As I interact with my professors and peers in class, I recognize how PR is so much more than just gaining media footprints for client organizations. In fact, the function of communications departments within organizations only helps in strengthening relationships with an array of stakeholders. In conclusion, if it is in an agency or in an in-house communications department the PR executive needs to practice his super powers judiciously because as we all know by now, ‘with great power, comes great responsibility.
About our blogger: Sanjeet Chowdhury is a graduate student at Northeastern University pursuing a MS in Project Management. He has been a PR professional in Mumbai, India and was working with Edelman and Adfactors PR. With a strong background in content writing, media management and communications strategy development, he has been an integral part of communications teams for start-ups and conglomerates. Sanjeet is accomplished in martial arts and holds a Black belt in Karate. In his leisure time, Sanjeet enjoys swimming, tennis, writing, and traveling. Connect with him on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Instagram (@sanjeet2198).