Making the transition to agency

Q.  Do you have any advice for those who have several years of work experience and are looking to transition to a PR agency?  I have almost six years of work experience in marketing, branding, and visual communications at a professional services firm; I’m a graduate communications student; and I’m an affiliate of a PRSA chapter, but I don’t know that this is enough to get me into a position above entry level at a PR agency.

A.   You have identified a real dilemma in our profession.  Although I didn’t start my career in an agency, I now encourage PR job seekers to do so.  Once you get that experience, it becomes far easier to move back to an agency after serving in corporate and nonprofit PR positions.  In your situation, I have two suggestions.  (1)  Develop an understanding of agency demands–perhaps by becoming involved in managing your firm’s agency relationship, or seek out volunteer activities where you can build your creative PR project management skills.    (2) Focus your search on agencies that have professional services clients similar to your employer.  Your experience will set you apart from other candidates who might have an agency background, but are not familiar with your industry.    

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