Interview with Account Manager Emily Wienberg

From time to time, we like to open a window into what life is like here at SHIFT. We pride ourselves on our smart, dedicated (and who can forget ballsy) culture. This week, we check in with Emily Wienberg, an Account Manager based in our Boston office. Emily gives us a glimpse of how her career unfolded, and offers up advice for anyone looking to progress in the field of PR. 

When did you start at SHIFT? What is your background?

I started at SHIFT in June 2012. I graduated the month prior from Boston University where I studied PR and Communications. I had about a two-week summer vacation and then I started my first real world job at SHIFT.

So you got hired right away as an Account Coordinator?

I did – I was hired right away as an account coordinator. There was an open position on the B2B tech team and it aligned well with my previous experience. I had also gotten to know a couple of people that already worked here, who kindly helped vouch for me.

Do you remember your first day?

I do. It rained. It was pouring buckets, and I was all worried about arriving at the office soaking wet. But I do remember showing up, and I was wearing the same color as my manager at the time. Usually when you’re a new employee at SHIFT, your manager walks you around the office to introduce you to everyone, so we got the joke a couple of times ‘Oh, did you plan your outfits for her first day?’ I also started in June which meant Summer Fridays were already in full swing, so getting to leave early on a Friday to cap off my first week of work was a nice treat.

What were the tasks you had as an AC? How does it differ from what you are doing now, and what brought you to that position?

As an account coordinator, I was the gatekeeper for my team. I was responsible for any and all reporting, keeping a close eye on the news, writing speaking and award submissions, and running social accounts for my clients. I also started building relationships with reporters and still to this day remember my first piece of coverage.

The projects that I worked on as an AC are quite different from what I work on now as a manager, but there is nothing that I do as a manager that is not rooted in the projects I did as an AC. For example, as an account coordinator, you have to be a really good researcher and you have to learn to use your resources to help find the answer. That skill has now helped me to find the best reporters to build relationships with and research new ones to engage with.

What excites you most about PR and your job here?

I think what excites me the most about PR is achieving a goal. We are very metrics driven and very goal driven here in an agency because we have to prove to our clients that we are a very valuable asset to their entire organization.  So, when you set a goal for yourself or your team and then you achieve it, it feels awesome. Whether that be a goal as simple as getting ten new Twitter followers in a week to getting an awesome top-tier feature story. It is achieving those goals that not only make the clients extremely happy, but also makes the team really happy. So I think that’s what excites me: when my team reaches our goals.

What is your favorite thing to do outside of the office?

Right now, I’m obsessed with Pokémon Go (like the rest of the world), but aside from that I do like to run. I’ve ran a couple of road races around Boston. My latest was a 10K in June. I love going out to eat, looking up new restaurants and studying menus. I’ve been living in Boston for eight years now and because I went to school here as well, I feel like I’ve gotten to see a lot of the city. I do still love traveling outside of Massachusetts, though. I went to Amsterdam and Iceland a few weeks ago. I’m hopefully going back to Europe next summer.

Do you have any advice for people just starting out?

I’d say the biggest piece of advice I could offer for people starting out in PR is to perfect your writing skills and become a resourceful person.

When it comes to the first part, writing, everything you do in PR is rooted in how you can communicate in a written form. Whether it be writing a tweet, an email to a reporter, a blog post for a press release, or even writing an email to a client, anything you do to communicate in that way has to be perfect. It has to be clear, easy to understand, but also casual yet informative. Really take advantage of as many opportunities to write as possible.

Being resourceful has several meanings. First, if you come to an agency in an entry-level position, you of course are going to have a lot of questions. Asking questions in my mind is a huge positive for a new employee. It shows they are inquisitive, interested and excited. But, one thing that can sometimes alert me is if I get too many questions that could possibly be answered with a little research. What I always try to advise people is to exhaust every resource they possibly can. Whether that be as simple as going to Google or looking at all the internal resources that your company has to offer. I would much rather somebody come up to me and say, ‘I checked here, here, and here, do you have any other places you can recommend where I can find an answer’ as opposed to ‘I’m not sure where to look.’

That’s the first part of being resourceful. The second part is using what you’ve got and turning it into magic. It’s our job to present stories in the most unique and interesting ways, and sometimes you have to do a lot with a little.

What does being an account manager mean to you? What are the rewards that you see from holding this position?

I think being an account manager to me has meant that I am now more responsible for the success of my clients and my team, and I say that in a good way. I feel personally connected to all of my client contacts. I feel very involved in the careers of all the people on my team that I work with on a daily basis. That responsibility has truly shown me the value of being a manager at a PR agency.

I would say the rewards of being a manager are seeing my clients succeed and my team members succeed as well, and this goes back to if you are responsible for them, you of course want nothing but good things to happen to them, and so of course when the good things do happen it is very rewarding.

And then back on the resource theme – account managers also need to be a resource for others. From offering advice about a reporter I’ve worked with or helping review a draft of a press release, I want other SHIFTers to know that I’m always a resource to them. Being a resource is something that has been extremely rewarding for me as a manager.

Emily Mong
Senior Account Executive


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