A PR Primer for Agency Rookies


Take it from an agency newbie: In order to be successful in this part of the PR world, you’re going to need more than the requisite writing and story telling skills upon which communicators rely. While these core competencies will serve you well, there are many others – many of which aren’t taught in the classroom – that are bigger predictors of future career success.

Here are 5 skill sets (in no particular order) that as a novice to the PR profession, I continue to focus on in my early professional development:

PR Basics

Time Management

Choose the most important tasks and make them a priority. You will most likely be dealing with more than one client at a time, so learning how to balance the timing on deliverables will serve you well.


Learn about your client inside and out. Do research, so that you get comfortable with what you’re communicating – especially when it’s on a client’s behalf. Nothing will make someone doubt your credibility more than sounding like you have no idea what you’re talking about. That’s a sure-fire way of being ignored or getting your call quickly forwarded to voicemail. By doing research (not just with Google, but through news databases, libraries, etc.), you give the person on the other side of the table a totally different level of confidence in your subject matter knowledge. They can actually trust that the information you are sharing with them is accurate.

New Technology

Social media has revolutionized the PR and marketing professions, and new PR software and social networking services will continue to evolve. Platforms like Cision, Meltwater and others make it easy for PR people to follow client news, send out press releases, and document everything in a simple, easy-to-read report.


Always be thinking outside the box. Companies are looking for fresh new ideas to build awareness, reputation and sales. PR is all about establishing a credible point-of-difference.


You’re going to have to work through many iterations of content before getting to final sign-off. It’s not always easy – or fun – constantly revising draft or making seemingly endless calls to gather new information. It can get frustrating. Be patient.

You’re building relationships, including one with your chosen career – and that times time. Fortunately, I’ve got a lot of that right now.

Michael Shepherd

Michael serves as Managing Partner of The Shepherd Group, a brand and communications firm with offices in Seattle and Newport Beach. A former journalist, he specializes in building narratives through discovery, design, and development of branded editorial and visual content.