After young PR pros have landed the agency job they tirelessly hunted for, immersed themselves in the entry-level support role and officially launched their PR career, the next phase is something I like to call the support to strategy switch. While we were first brought on board to aid account managers in the tactical elements of the communications campaigns for their clients, we have now proved ourselves enough to take on the role as account lead.
Just like any transition, there are growing pains. Similar to the journey from college to career is the process of getting accustomed to managing client accounts. It’s time to take it up a notch. So what can you do to make the move to management as efficient and accelerated as possible? Here are a few things I’ve learned through my experience:
- You won’t manage anything else until you can manage your time. You may have gotten in a pretty good groove with your to-dos in a support role. Now that you’re handling the entire communications plan, you will not only have to manage the successful completion of tactical to-dos, technical to-dos and regular, re-occurring to-dos, but you will have to plan a variety of action items to achieve results related to the client’s strategic goals. You’re new. It will naturally take longer to learn the expectations that have been set. If you can balance and manage your time appropriately so you don’t get bogged down by all the tactical work, you’ll be on the path to becoming a professional who successfully builds and executes on strategic communications programs.
- Don’t let the little things slip. I know I just said don’t get bogged down by the tactical to-dos, but you also can’t let those responsibilities fall of track in your more strategic role. Depending on the design of your clients’ public relations and marketing needs, there will always be tactical to-dos. Updating content on a news page of a website, monitoring for placements and other tasks that can be a time suck can’t drop off your radar. These are the pillars of your program. Regardless of how overwhelmed you may become, you’ll regret it much more if you let little things fall off and have to constantly play catch up to keep all parts of the program moving forward.
- Be confident, or crumble. You may have become comfortable observing the top account manager leading a client call, a big company meeting, or the presentation of a new plan. Now, it’s your turn. It will be your job to control the success of the communications plan you implement, so strong recommendations made with confidence are crucial. Your clients will trust you more if they know you are confident in the strategy you have chosen to implement to help them reach their communications goals.
- Think bigger. It’s not just about understanding how your role and the client successes you have fit into their big picture goals. Now it’s about creating those opportunities yourself. Watching for news opportunities in the niches where your clients operate will be crucial. Learning to think of new angles and strengthen relationships will be your responsibility. No pressure…but you must think on a larger level in order to succeed as the account lead.
What other tips would you share for young PR pros transitioning from client account support to client account management? Or, if you’re a young pro nervous about the switch, what questions do you have about the transition?