It’s easy as 1, 2—never mind.
With three years worth of ImPRessions experience under my belt, I compiled a list of pointers I’ve gained from my time as both an account associate and account executive. My tips and hints are inspired by the impressive executives and associates I’ve worked with in the past, and the ones working beside me now.
As you begin your new role as an account executive this year, enjoy my tidbits of unsolicited advice:
Acquire an agenda: When meeting with your client and account associates, prepare talking points to address beforehand. If you have an idea of what you want to accomplish from the get-go, your meetings will be more productive.
Bond with your executives: Your associates are the driving force behind the account. You will be collaborating with them, depending on them, teaching and learning from them. Get to know your associates—they are your team.
Constant conversation will foster better communication: Scheduling weekly meetings with your client will enable you to stay up-to-date on their changing needs, and figure out how to best meet them.
Delegate tasks and assignments: You can’t take on everything yourself, nor are you expected to. Trust your associates to share the workload and help carry the account, and offer your assistance and guidance when necessary.
Evaluate your work: Conducting a self-review after initiating a new idea or plan will help you determine strengths and identify areas of improvement. Your evaluation will teach you how to be more effective in the future.
Follow-up with your clients and associates: Being prompt in your responses will build your credibility and keep the line of communication open between you, your client and executives.
Goals keep you on track: It’s easy to lose sight of what you set out to accomplish if you don’t specify it from the beginning. When you feel yourself veering off course, refer back to your mission to find out what really matters.
Have an encouraging attitude: Positivity and negativity are contagious. If you don’t have confidence or the right attitude, no one else will, especially your associates.
Improvise during downtime: Most accounts are bound to experience a lull in between projects from time to time. Hold a resume workshop, teach your associates how to write a press release or show them how to pitch a story. Turn your down time back up by finding ways to remain productive.
Jump right in: Be a self-starter. Contact your associates to schedule your first meeting of the year and reach out to your client, right now. There’s lots of work to be done!
Keep track of your progress: Comparing where you started to where you are now is the best way to measure improvement. Decide if you’re honing in on your goals. If not, come up with a different strategy.
Lead by example: Don’t just talk the talk—walk the walk. Follow through on promises and execute your plans. Others are more likely to take you seriously if you can prove you are dependable and reliable.
Make enough time for the account: Set aside time each week to plan out meetings, answer emails and prepare for upcoming events. Creating a monthly calendar that outlines tasks and assignments will help you stay organized.
Never forget to say thank you: When you offer a genuine, thought-out thank you, you’re acknowledging your associates’ and clients’ effort, appreciating their thoughtfulness and recognizing their intent. Saying thank you feels good, not just to the receiver but also to the sender.
Open yourself up to new ideas and opinions: Some of the best solutions stem from collaboration. Allow others to build off your ideas and pull from their own experiences to help formulate a plan.
Positive feedback can boost morale: Feeling genuinely appreciated lifts people up and energizes them. Showing your associates that their work truly matters and that they’re contributing unique value to the whole will drive engagement and motivate them even further.
Quantify your results: Your client is interested in the value of your PR work and exactly how much of an impact your account has made. Numbers serve as one of the best, most concrete ways of showcasing your results. Dust the dirt off your calculator, and start adding it all up!
Rely on your associates: Just like you, your associates joined ImPRessions to gain practical experience, learn and grow. Let them take the reigns as the account pursues different projects, and give them the opportunity to solve problems on their own. They’ll thank you later.
Serve as a role model: Often, your associates will be underclassmen, new on campus and in the public relations field. Your experiences, insight and knowledge of campus are valuable—share them. A little piece of advice can go a long way.
Take it one step further: Treat every meeting, interview and event as you would at an internship. This will not only give you great practice, but it will yield the best results for your account.
Utilize your resources: Remember that you’re surrounded by PR-stars! Play off of the knowledge, experience, skills and expertise of your peers to help formulate new ideas and overcome account obstacles.
Versatility is key: Your associates and clients are bound to run on different, sometimes even conflicting, schedules. If you’re persistent, understanding and accommodating, you’ll find a way to connect the dots.
Work hard: Give this experience your all. Your client and associates will depend on you to set the precedence and lead the way.
Xerox copies of your agenda: Supply your associates with a weekly agenda so they can follow along during meetings and refer back to it later on.
You’re going to make mistakes: Admit your missteps and mishaps, address them promptly, learn from them and move on.
Zen: find yours: Managing an account can be challenging, stressful, time-consuming and frustrating. By the end of the year, you’ll have gained skills and a learning experience that will undoubtedly help you succeed in the future.
So, breathe—you’re already one step closer to becoming a PRofessional.
-Katie Grady is a senior studying strategic communications with specializations in business and political science. Follow her adventures in NYC at @kaitgrady.