PR Agency Life 101: Nontraditional Roles

We’ve explored the basic layout of the traditional PR team and the management of those teams in the previous two posts in this series. However, the traditional PR team is changing rapidly as PR agencies are tasked with handling more and more of clients’ audience generation responsibilities. After all, the role of a PR firm is to use media (paid, earned, and owned) to bring more audience to the front door of a business or organization. How we do that changes as media changes. Here are four branches of media that you might not expect to find at a traditional PR firm, but will increasingly find at agencies of the future:

PR Agency Structure.mindnode

Creative Team: PR agencies increasingly are involved in creative design and development, from simple things like collateral to highly complex creative deployments that merge the online and offline worlds. A creative team allows an agency to respond much faster, to serve clients better, and to color outside the lines more frequently. For example, rather than just manage the social media accounts of a client, an agency with a creative team can help to develop custom Facebook tabs, generate more visually complex content, produce richer media, and ultimately help the client differentiate themselves in their industry when their competitors are stuck just cranking out press releases.

Marketing Team: The role of a PR firm is to bring audiences to the front door of a business, but if the front door is locked, then the business withers and ultimately the PR firm loses the client. It’s in the best interests of a PR agency to help a client improve their marketing and sales infrastructure and processes, to become more profitable, and ultimately to leverage the crowds at the front door better. From setting up and operating email marketing campaigns to auditing marketing metrics and sales CRMs, an agency with marketing capabilities can make its PR work shine.

Advertising Team: If you’ve seen our discussion of the three media types in our Earned Media Hub strategy model, it should be no surprise that PR agencies of the future will be offering increasingly complex, complementary advertising services, from syndication of content on paid channels to straight up advertising. Advertising typically has linear returns – spend a dollar, get a dollar’s worth of audience, but when paired with earned media and PR, it can extend reach into media outlets that rarely offer earned coverage opportunities or strengthen editorial content with accompanying calls to action.

Development Team: While it may seem unusual to be talking about software developers at a PR firm, the reality is that software is another form of media. From mobile apps to web apps to middleware that connects common media APIs, software development capability is a must for the PR agency of the future that wants to extend its services to all forms of media. Even seemingly simple things like a custom Facebook Tab now require more sophisticated, software-based approaches. Expect to see more and more agencies offering these capabilities as part of holistic PR campaigns.

As you can see, career opportunities at PR firms aren’t limited just to traditional PR roles, not if those firms are forward-thinking. As a shameless plug, if you have an astonishing track record in these areas above, we encourage you to check out our Careers page and see if SHIFT is the right agency for your career.

Christopher S. Penn
Vice President, Marketing Technology


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