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What’s in a name?

You’ve briefed your PR agency and they’re off, helping you broadcast your message to the world, but you may be feeling a bit uneasy about what on earth all these people are doing.  You’ve entered a bewildering world of abbreviations and jargon and job titles that all sound remarkably similar.  So, what does everyone do in a PR agency, and more importantly, what are they doing for YOU?

NB:  Some PR agencies ‘sell in on the dream team’.  You’ll meet them at the pitch and they’ll all have important job titles like Senior Account Director.  Your work will then be dealt with by the intern and you won’t meet the Senior Account Director again until something inevitably goes wrong.  To be clear, we don’t do that.

Top of the list, the Account Director.  S/he manages the team on your account (the work the agency is doing for you) and will be your most senior contact.  They’ll make sure your campaigns are delivered in the way you’ve agreed.  They’ll have great contacts in the media and industry.  On the in-house side, they’ll work on new business and strategy for the agency itself.

Next, the account manager.  They’ll have a portfolio of different clients and will oversee the information that is given to the media based on discussion with you.  They’ll present you with creative ideas, analyse your coverage, update you on the success of your campaign and communicate with your stakeholders.  They should be present at any regular meetings you have with the agency. 

Who reports to the account manager?  The account executives.  They usually work on around four or five client accounts at once.  They are the ones who will make your written material and your ideas work:  account executives will “sell in” to the media (that means ringing/emailing journalists and pitching your story in the hope of winning coverage) and they’ll often be the ones to prepare the first draft of your press releases or social media.   Account executives will also arrange the interviews you have with the press and scour the media for mentions of your company or issues within your sector that might be worth a comment. 

The interns are those who are getting a grounding in PR, and they report to absolutely everybody.  They’ll be asked to help assemble material for pitches and presentations, plan events and do some admin, learning all the while. 

One of the bugbears in PR is different agencies giving their staff strange job titles which makes their roles difficult to equate with others at different agencies, but most will stick to these levels, more or less.    The most important element in a successful relationship between client and agency is good communication.  You need to feel reassured that everyone working on your account has a thorough understanding of your aims and objectives, whatever their job title.

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