Not every day in PR is the same – and our roles are not often what you might expect. Our PR Account Executive Georgia Tiernan shares some of the ins and out of life in an agency…
When it comes to explaining my job, it’s usually lost on whoever I’m talking to… and if it’s not lost, it’s easily misunderstood. Historically, PR and PA agencies were associated with schmoozing or glitz and glam, and although there are certainly elements of the latter at Pagoda (we do love an awards night!), the industry has come a long way. Though, I think we can blame TV hits such as Flack, The West Wing, AbFab and Mad Men for reinforcing these stereotypes.
With the age of technology well and truly here – and here to stay – working in an agency has never been more different from pre-digital times. Now that nearly everything, from collecting press clippings to meetings and interviews, can be performed online, we spend more time at our desks than ever before. Despite this, our role as an agency still very much involves getting out and about to visit clients, scope locations and of course, meet the media.
We recently welcomed a PA intern, Callum Clarke, to Pagoda for the summer. When he left, he shared some of his experiences of PA life with me:
“When working as an intern at an agency in the heart of Edinburgh, you rarely imagine your morning will be spent trekking through a peat bog. This is exactly what happened on one of my more adventurous days at Pagoda!
“On a bright July morning, a colleague and I were sent to join a site visit to a prospective solar farm. Based on the brief, I expected a short hike along a well-worn track in the countryside. These notions were quickly dispelled when we realised we were on the wrong side of a burn and deep in bogland.
“What followed was an entertaining but tricky traverse and it soon became apparent that my trainers were not up to the task. However, we pressed on and eventually crossed the burn and, upon climbing a small ridge to reach the site proper, it became clear why we were here. The bright, airy location and sheer remoteness made it worth the four-hour round trip, as did the well-earned coffee and chocolate.
“The adventure was a really important part of the prospecting process as it allowed the project team to view the land they would be developing into a much-needed multimillion-pound solar farm and our role in the process. This first-hand experience will help the team understand the ‘boots on the ground’ challenges that the development will face. Our job is to take these learnings and look to prevent any negative impacts this development could have on the local landscape and communities.
“It was all a great lesson learned and showed me how getting out in the field (literally!) is a great way to learn about agency life.”
Because of our commitment to working on issues of environmental importance, it won’t surprise you to learn that I have also been bog-hopping, like Callum. Only recently I visited a Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS) site to coordinate an interview with a BBC reporter from the UK national news, who was filming osprey chicks being ringed. This was part of an ongoing FLS campaign to engage the public to #ProtectScotlandsWildlife. Similarly to Cal, my day out was a real experience – both in the thrill and in the soaked-through bog-bound department! Note to self for my future PR career: when a forester tells you to bring waterproofs, ALWAYS assume they mean the full shebang: wellies, waterproof trousers and a rain jacket!
That aside, the purpose of this day out wasn’t just to have a blast traipsing through the forest (those that know me, know this is indeed an ideal scenario). Instead, attending interviews and filming with the media is crucial – we serve as a bridge between the client and the media outlet. We help to guide the interviewee to stay on message, handle difficult questions and maintain a positive, on-message image for their organisation. Though in this instance, both the FLS team and the reporter knew their ‘stuff’ so well that I was mostly put to task hiking the camera tripod and other bits of gear from one location to the other. However, media interviews aren’t always so streamlined and it’s important to have a presence to ensure the client’s message and key talking points are effectively communicated, minimising the risk of miscommunication or misrepresentation. They also appreciate a hand to help them through the bog.
All in all, different clients present diverse opportunities and, in my opinion, it’s the best part of working at an agency. Embracing the versatility of our clients, we relish the fact that no two days are alike and that our work takes us to fascinating places and allows us to support meaningful causes. Yes, we spend a lot of our work hours at a desk, but unlike most office-based jobs, we also get to visit mountains, the sea, potions bars, Michelin star restaurants, cooking classes, and the list goes on.
These experiences and opportunities make a job at an agency like a job at no other and are why working at Pagoda feels so special. After all, #agencylife is the best life.