Ten years ago most PR professionals would learn everything they needed to simply by working. There may have been some silos or skills that most people didn’t touch, but those were for specialized areas. By the time most pros were on the job for a few years they had pitched national and local media, feature or long form and breaking stories, print and broadcast. They had participated in hosting an event, done a media tour, gone shotgun on desk sides, prepared briefing books and coverage reports, and possibly even handled a crisis (whether actual crisis or client perceived), etc.
By the time a professional had been on the job five or so years they had done most of what could be done and moved to a strategy and account services function-coordinating, instructing and supervising younger staff, while still pitching in as appropriate. Since they had done it all (or pretty close) they could appropriately counsel and advise clients with first-hand experience.
We all remember going on interviews and being asked about the journalists in the field – if we’d pitched them, what kind of relationships we had with trade press, what we thought of recent coverage on….
The basic process was the same almost across the board – tell a good story for your client to the appropriate media outlet. If the story, pitch and etiquette were good (and timing was on your side) it got picked up.
We also had a built in correction system – if your story wasn’t good (and you had pitched properly) you’d hear why from the journalist and could adjust the story or modify your targets.
In case you haven’t noticed – that’s changed.
Now we’ve got digital (or social if you’d like to call it that) and we’ve got agencies rebuilding their practices to include digital skills. Due to various factors: know-how from existing employees, agency size, client make-up, etc. we’ve got different agencies taking different approaches to how they integrate digital into their offerings.
In the next part of this post, we’ll examine two of the more commonly used agency structures and examine their pros and cons.
Image courtesy Franklin Park Library