This week marked the end of my first week at Edelman in Chicago, and I am loving it. For all of the focus that some PR and Marketing agencies tend to put on finding and hiring other “agency people” who fit in with the “agency culture”, Edelman brought in someone with a wealth of marketing experience, but no agency experience.
There are a lot of people in my position who wouldn’t know if they could handle it, but I feel the environment is one I can enjoy long term. They expect work to get done, they hire people that “get” the social media and digital realm, and they value the employees who care. Best of all, when they asked me if I had a problem with pressure and deadlines, I smiled and remembered the time when 30 users were standing outside my server room waiting for the Exchange server to be fixed. Pressure and deadlines? No worries, guys.
So how does this post of personal reflection and love-fest help you? I’m glad you asked. for those of you who may be an unemployed or freelancing marketer and facing an opportunity to join an agency, here’s my top 5 pieces of advice*:
- Don’t give up. This may not be the world you’re used to, and you may feel like you’re doing everything wrong, but everybody has to start somewhere. There will be days where you rock and days when you bomb, but the more you learn and the better you get, the less you will bomb.
- Don’t get too arrogant. A healthy bit of pride or machismo about your work is an asset, but keep it in moderation. working for an agency is about your clients, not about your ego. A bruised relationship could cost millions, a bruised ego can be fixed with good friends and adult beverages.
- Know what’s expected of you. Agencies value their clients above all else, and every client’s expectations are different. Know what your client likes and dislikes about working style and follow suit.
- Make changes. After you learn the way things have always been done, research ways to do it better and put a constructive plan together to make a change. Even if your agency doesn’t want to do it, at least you are showing initive.
- Learn. This is last but not least, for sure. Learn everything you can about your clients, and share that knowledge. Don’t assume that because someone at your agency has a long relationship with a client that they know every single detail about them. the more you know your client and their products, the more valuable you are to their brand.
Most of this is common sense, but common sense isn’t always so common. It should also be noted that if you find you don’t fit the culture, it may just be the agency. Don’t swear off agencies for the rest of your life or you may miss a great opportunity down the road.