I’ve had the pleasure of working with the Edelman Digital team for the past three months and during that time, I’ve been able to see how a global agency with a strong digital arm operates. There is no question that digital communications is growing, even in the recession. The industry will need young and savvy professionals that know more than how to make a Facebook page and set up a Twitter account. Here’s what I think those interested in working for a digital agency should know how to do:
- Work in the digital space. Start your own blog, network with professionals online, and learn how to create great content. Most of all learn how people operate online. Once you create your online presence, keep it active and keep it growing. This is exactly what you will be doing for your clients. You’ll probably make mistakes and learn from them, but you will eventually be able to bring this experience to your career.
- The traditional RACE (research, action, communication, evaluation) model is how digital professionals operate. While the digital landscape has dramatically changed the public relations profession, the strategy of practitioners remains the same. If you want to pursue a career in an agency, it’s important to understand strategy and how it works in the digital space. Clients will always need to have researched-backed programs that can demonstrate accurate metrics and ROI.
- Don’t get distracted by digital opportunities – writing still is king. We’ve all heard that writing is important, but don’t let the Web fool you – public relations professionals will always need to know how to write. Sure, you won’t always have to write in “press release speak,” but with the dozens of mediums the digital space opens, I’d argue that writing is more important now more than ever. Listen to understand the space you are reaching out to and adjust your writing style accordingly.
- Diversify your internship experiences.When working with a digital team, you’ll probably be working with more than just public relations professionals. If possible, try and gain experience in programming, creative advertising, online media sales, Internet start-ups and corporate communications. At Edelman, I was surprised to learn that more than just traditional public relations professionals are making their way to the online space, and it’s important to watch how other communications professionals and adjusting to new technology.
- Stay on top of digital trends. Just when you think you’re caught up, you’re probably behind already. Staying on top of Web trends can literally be a full time job. For students, it’s especially hard balancing everything we do. I recommend dedicating 30 minutes every day to reading blogs such as Mashable, TechCrunch, Read Write Web, and corporate blogs such as Google and Facebook. As mentioned above, having an active online presence will also help you keep on top of these trends.
Nick Lucido is a senior PR major at Michigan State University and blogs at PR Start.