Top 5 Takeaways from the PR Council Agency Ready Certificate

By Denali Lerch 

While summer semesters are typically filled with internships, study abroad programs or part-time jobs, COVID-19 threw a curveball at many college students who could no longer participate in their original plans. The PR Council, a public relations association dedicated to agencies with public relations specialties, offered an Agency Ready Certificate for students in these unfortunate positions to still make the most of their summer. 

Through a series of Zoom meetings, many of the country’s top agencies tackled various topics relating to public relations and offered their best advice. Here are some of the main takeaways from the series of webinars:

    1. In an agency, see your clients as humans and friends. In this webinar called “The Agency Approach to Client Service” by directors of APCO Worldwide, the two directors taught the fundamentals and best practices of client service. Most of the time, you are selling yourself to your client in agency work and have to continuously do so. Going above and beyond to service your client, make your brand unique to them and help to solve their problem lets you stand out in a PR agency tremendously.
    2. Writing 101: an ugly first draft is everything. In public relations, writing is a crucial skill to have. In this webinar called “Writing 101: the Ugly First Draft” by Walker Sands, agency reps dove into the structure of all forms of writing, whether it’s a press release, blog post or Instagram caption. Writers should know their audience before writing, gather supporting points before and create an outline—aka the “ugly first draft.” Once the writer hones down the outline, that’s when the magic begins. Give the piece some space, then come back and perfect the next version with fresh eyes. 
    3. Over-deliver rather than over-promise. A professional brand defines how coworkers, bosses and clients view your work and ethics in an agency environment. Leaders from Ketchum explained in the webinar “Building Your Personal Brand” that your presence and conduct impact your skillset and relationships with others. By asking yourself “how do people see me?” you can be vulnerable, but also evaluate ways to improve in your work and communication skills.
    4. Stay on top and up-to-date. According to the webinar “The Future is Now: Welcome to the Modern PR Agency” by BCW Global, working in today’s world of PR will require employees to stay on top of trends and current events. Agencies have to keep their clients up-to-date on what’s going on in the world, so the best place to start is in the office or at home reading all of the latest headlines. 
    5. In PR, you have to crawl before you can run. Stay humble and ambitious, but keep the drive to learn more. Employees from Cognito Media gave numerous practical tips on pitching and why PR specialists should have strong writing skills; but more importantly, they explained we should all be patient, humble and hungry to learn. 

In a time of drastically reduced professional opportunities, the PR Council Agency-Ready Certificate provided students with an unconventional but efficient way to learn more about agency work and how to succeed in many aspects of PR. Thanks to the program, many future public relations professionals can go out into the agency world confident with their newfound knowledge and exceeding expectations.