In October 2016, 11 members of the LSU PRSSA Chapter, myself included, embarked on a journey to Indianapolis, Indiana for the PRSSA National Conference. During this conference, I networked with professionals in the public relations field, handed out business cards, attended informational sessions, drank too much coffee and toured a full-service creative agency in town.
This was my first experience with a full-service creative agency and I must say it was very eye opening. The agency I visited was Hirons, a company that combines both public relations and advertising to create a one-stop shop for clients’ needs.
At the beginning of the tour, my group sat in a large meeting room where we were given a presentation on all the ins and out of agency life as well as daily duties of some of the employees that work there. We were lucky enough to be introduced to Senior Vice President Deana Haworth, APR, who gave us a few tips on interviewing for our first entry-level job that I’d like to share:
- Show up dressed to impress. Haworth recommended adding your own style, whether that be fun socks, glasses, a creative tie, etc. Remember that you’re applying to work in a creative environment so you want to express your creativity in every manner that you can, including your personal style.
- Be prepared. Have an extra copy of your resume with you in case you need it and do your homework to research the company and projects its employees have completed. It’s not uncommon for agencies to prepare a writing test for the interview, so brush up on your AP skills too!
- Read the news. This is the most important point that was stressed. As public relations professionals, we’re expected to know what’s happening in the news. Employees at Hirons testified to times that they’ve gotten a call from Haworth and were expected to know the headline of that day’s newspaper. It’s important to know the headlines of today’s national papers but also the local newspaper. According to Haworth, if you’re going on a job interview in another city you’d better know what’s happening there.
- Reach out and follow up. Hirons doesn’t typically post job openings online, but instead has a prepared list of people ready for hire. Even if the company you’re hoping to work for doesn’t have a job opening you should apply anyways. As Hayworth mentioned, the first time a company hears about you shouldn’t be when you’re applying. Instead, send an email expressing your interest in the company and ask for an informational interview. After you’ve applied, if you haven’t heard anything back, follow up with a phone call to make sure your resume was received. Doing so with a phone call shows your personable skills and means a lot more to the hiring professional than sending another email.
After the presentation, my group was led on a tour of the building. I noticed that the Hirons office seemed to have the perfect balance of an open-floor plan for designers and more private work areas for crisis managers, account managers and copyeditors. As far as company culture goes, there’s also a rooftop patio for which the staff uses to host monthly events like barbeques or the more recent Oktoberfest-themed lunch with German food and drinks. If that wasn’t enough to give me an idea of the workplace environment at Hirons, they also have a dog mascot named Hank who’s quite popular on social media (follow him on Instagram @hankathirons).
The tour was an overall exciting experience and made me motivated to improve myself as a hiring candidate in the future. My biggest takeaway from that day is that I discovered full-service agency life is the perfect fit for me. As a graduating senior, I’ve been hoping to narrow down my job search to find a career path that will combine the creativity of advertising with the fast-paced world of public relations and crisis management. Full-service agencies seem to fit the bill, and I’m more eager and prepared than ever to embark on the journey of my entry-level job search.