Q. While I’ve seen a few PR agency jobs that do not require media relations experience, is not having this experience an obstacle to finding a mid-level job at a PR agency? I have 7 years of experience in communications (visual communications, publications development, and marketing) at a professional services firm, I’ve done an internship at a top PR agency, and I am a thesis paper away from completing a graduate communications program, yet media relations has never been a part of any of these experiences. How can I make it into a PR agency without starting at entry level? -ND
A. It’s possible, but extremely difficult to find mid-level agency jobs that don’t require hands-on media relations experience. However, you might have better luck at small- to mid-size agencies where you can gain media relations experience while doing other aspects of PR that you’ve been practicing for the past seven years.
I asked Ketchum Regional HR director Mary Lou Finn to weigh in on your question. She noted that a mid-level professional (i.e. Account Supervisor) must be able to coach junior staff and lead account teams. That includes developing media strategy and presenting/selling it to clients. While the junior staff could provide the details for the specific media the supervisor would have to be confident with their recommendation and be able to present and answer questions on the spot to clients. The junior staff might also loose respect for someone at that level if they don’t understand the media better than them. If you have experience in a specialty area like business development, creative, or social media there might be an opportunity at the mid level.