What Size Agency is Right for You?

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What Size Agency is Right for You?

This blog is written by Ellie Jesse, our Campus Ambassador from UNC-Chapel Hill. Ellie is a junior transfer student studying public relations at the School of Journalism. Ellie was an intern at Peppercom Strategic Communications in New York and is now a freelancer for the agency.


Part 1: Full-Size Agencies

What do small agencies offer that bigger ones don’t? What about vice versa? Do certain people fit in better at mid-size agencies? What about small agencies and Full-size agencies? For the next three blog posts, I decided to do a series on different sized agencies and how they differ from one another.

My theory: not all agencies are the right fit for everyone. There are numerous differences between small, mid-side and full-size agencies, differences that determine what sorts of clients the agency works with, the office environment, and most important for us IQ readers: what are the internship programs like and how do they differ from agency to agency? For this blog series, I am going to speak to PR pros from different agencies and share their insight about agency size.

First, let’s focus on full-size agencies. I spoke to PR pros from two of the most well known full-size agencies in the PR world: Edelman and Ketchum.

Let’s start with Edelman. Edelman is an award-winning global independent public relations firm with over more than 3,600 employees in 53 offices around the world. It is the largest independent PR firm in the world. I spoke with Noelle Hagen, an Account Supervisor, to get her take on what it’s like to work at a full-size agency. She had some really great insight. Here’s what she had to say:

“Larger agencies typically have more global resources than smaller or mid-size firms.  So for example if you’re working on a new business pitch and want to make sure you are putting in the right target newspaper to pitch an initiative in Germany, you can call your colleagues in Germany to discuss and get their recommendations instead of just researching online.”

“Large agencies are typically organized by practices areas, (corporate, consumer, digital, healthcare, etc.) so for people just starting out who have a specific area of interest, it’s a good opportunity to explore that interest and determine early on in your career if it’s what you want to focus on, or if you want to explore other areas. (On the flip-side, smaller and mid-size agencies are not organized this way so if you have no clue what you want to focus on, it’s better to start there and get experience on many different types of accounts).”

Let’s take a look at Ketchum PR. Ketchum is also an award-winning global public relations agency with offices in over 103 countries. It specializes in five global practice areas including brand marketing, corporate communications, healthcare, food and nutrition, and technology. I spoke with Ella Burton, a New Business Associate, to find out what it’s like to work at a full-sized agency. Ella gave me some great information. Here’s what she had to say:

“For me, the biggest advantage is the diversity of clients and the diversity of work we deliver – everything from thought leadership campaigns, product launches, changing health perceptions and internal communications, social media strategy and playbooks etc.”

“Ketchum has a variety of practice areas so you are exposed to everything from healthcare clients to brand & tech (Pfizer, Absolut, FedEx, Frito Lay) and a single client can overlap practices so that you can coordinate with another team on something like brand work and corporate positioning”

Ella bulleted out some of the other characteristics of Ketchum below:

· There are a large number of senior experienced staff members & executives who are able to teach you from their experiences and who come from diverse backgrounds.

· Ketchum in particular also offers “Ketchum University” where you can learn about everything from the latest insights on Marketing to Moms, to Planning Processes for clients/accounts.

· Over time, you can also have the opportunity to travel to other offices and if you want, and work with HR to work at a global office (we have offices & affiliates in over 103 countries! A lot of my peers have transferred to NY from other US offices (Chicago, San Fran etc.).

If you didn’t know much about full-size agencies and what they do before now, I hope that this insight from Ella and Noelle has helped. When applying and interviewing for internships, you HAVE to do your research. Know the company in and out. By speaking to current employees, it gives you insight that other candidates might not have. The more acquainted you are with an agency, the higher your chances are in getting an internship there.

Speaking to Noelle and Ella has definitely made me want to try my hand at an internship at a full-size agency. Speaking of! Both Edelman and Ketchum offer internships for undergraduates. You can visit their websites for more information: www.ketchum.com and www.edelman.com .