PR agencies are always looking for great new people to join their ranks.
With the economy improving, there are many opportunities for people with PR experience to move up the ladder in agencies or over to the corporate side.
But some people who have made quick moves say that there are questions they wish they had asked before they joined a different agency or made the switch
into corporate communications. Based on what we’ve heard from our alums, you would be wise to inquire about certain things before you say yes to an offer.
Here are six questions to ask before you make a quick PR job change:
1. Is there a mentoring management style?
Some companies assign reporting managers who help develop people’s skills as well as mentors who can objectively offer the employee career advice.
These people can guide your career development and also advocate for you, to help you get the best experiences for you.
You don’t want to find out after you join a company that managers focus mostly on giving work assignments to team members and really don’t make time for
developing their people. If there isn’t a commitment to helping a person grow as a professional as well as to do good work, you may not have the
opportunity to learn what you need to advance your career.
2. Is there some semblance of work/life balance?
In any client-service role, the work needs to get done regardless of the time of day or day of week.
But make sure you ask whether long days or weekend work are unusual or the norm. The only ways to achieve work/life balance in a client-service environment
(this goes for corporate and agency PR jobs) is to have healthy collaboration among team members.
Good teams share the load and good management at the top plans well for projects to be handled within reasonable hours. Make sure you are joining a company
in which you can work hard and leave at the end of a regular workday without feeling like you’re being labeled a “slacker.”
3. Who will you be able to learn from?
You will learn the nuts and bolts skills you’ll need to be successful in PR from someone close to your level, but you’ll learn how to stretch your thinking
and become a strategic counselor from working with senior strategists.
Continuous learning is important to career development. Ask what kind of access you will have to the most senior people in the organization.
4. Will you have a good group of peers?
Job satisfaction highly depends on liking the people you work with day to day.
Make sure the team you will be joining is an open and welcoming group, and will be people you’ll enjoy hanging out with for a chunk of your waking hours.
[RELATED: Harness the power of communications to transform your organization into one of the best places to work.]
If you are moving to an internal role, try to determine how PR is viewed in the company and whether you will have peers you can learn from. You also want
to have allies to help you educate your organization about the value of PR to the company.
5. What’s the relationship with your internal or external clients?
The best client relationships are based on partnership and mutual respect. Both sides show their roles and work hard to make the other succeed.
The client is always the client and has a right to expect great service, but make sure it is a healthy working relationship. One-sided relationships can be
stressful and unrewarding.
6. What is my career path?
Though it’s important to find outstanding peers and a senior leadership team that fosters continuous learning, it’s equally important to understand what
will be expected of you, and what it takes to get to the next level.
Is the organization dedicated to setting clear goals and objectives? Is it developing people in a timeframe that allows its employees to grow within the
company and be substantial contributors? What is the process in place to evaluate talent, and how often do employees receive feedback (both formal and
Employees often feel they need to leave a company to grow, so it’s important to gauge the company’s commitment to fostering internal growth before joining.
These questions will help you ferret out important information that can help guide your decision. Don’t be afraid to ask them during the interview process
and in your own sleuthing with current or former employees.
Determine whether this will be a mutually satisfying culture of growth and respect, and have an understanding and appreciation for an organization’s
guiding principles, before signing on the dotted line. It will be the best homework you can do before accepting a new PR agency position.
Lauri Munson is an HR veteran at Lois Paul and Partners, with over 20 years of experience specializing in organizational design and talent management at all levels.