Agency Career Path

Skills, responsibilities, and compensation change each step of the way as PR professionals climb to the top of the agency ladder

Skills, responsibilities, and compensation change each step of the way as PR professionals climb to the top of the agency ladder

PRELIMINARY

0-3 yrs

Asst. account executive
Account coordinator
Account executive

A broad education of the basics defines the first stage of an agency career.

Writing. Proficiency in spelling, grammar, structure; can write news releases, articles, video scripts, speeches, proposals.

Media relations. Understand the needs of mainstream and non-traditional media outlets, how to place a story, relationship building, agency/client history.

Research. Basic knowledge of data collection and evaluation.

Client service. Project and budget management, quality management of work, conflict-resolution skills.

Public speaking. Confidence in small-group presentations.

Electronic communication. Work with databases, Access, and PowerPoint. Understanding VNRs, SMTs, podcasts, RSS, etc.

Administrative. Personal time accounting, budgets, and activity reports.

Leadership/team building. Understand group dynamics.

Salary range: $28K - $40K


3-5 yrs

Account executive
Account manager
Senior account executive

Early skills are refined, and executed with less supervision.

Writing. Proficiency in tactical plans, annual reports, position papers, proposals, brochures, backgrounders, editorial copy.

Media relations. Manage media relationships; place stories, coordinate media distribution, train and supervise team members.

Research. Understand data analysis terms and methods, analysis presentation, difference between in-person, focus group, and survey methods.

Client service. Crisis training for mid-level execs; know basic business models, how to read balance sheet/annual report; organizational communication development, implementation.

Administrative. Proficiency in account time and information management (action memos, reports, proposals, approvals), budget creation and analysis.

Leadership/team building. Exhibit basic management of projects and peers.

New business. Identify prospects; contact management, reporting, and follow-up.

Salary range: $40K - $65K


5-7 yrs

Account manager
Account director
Counselor
Senior counselor

Specialties may emerge, such as advanced skills in creativity, brand knowledge, client relations, or management.

Writing. Write, edit, and direct persuasive and effective copy.

Media relations. Manage team to develop and retain media ties, and create interest in client stories; identify distribution channels; coordinate distribution.

Research. Oversee and sell research concepts; create and manage research budgets; manage internal and external resources for implementation.

Client service. Crisis and media training for senior-level executives; program development; ability to discuss business models and counsel clients on balance sheets.

Public speaking. Effective presentations to audiences of any size on complex subjects; teach speaking techniques.

Administrative. Budget creation, analysis, management.

Leadership/team building. Oversee subordinates; show proficiency in senior management relations.

Salary range: $65K - $95K

7-10 yrs

Account supervisor
Vice president

Practitioners may start getting involved in the agency's P&L.

Writing. Train and encourage high-quality writing from team.

Media relations. Train, supervise, and direct account managers in the development and retention of great relationships with a broad range of media.

Research. Manage and direct programs for multiple clients.

Client service. Direct, manage, and supervise efforts of subordinates in all areas mentioned in previous levels.

Administrative. Direct, manage, and supervise efforts of subordinates in all areas mentioned in previous levels.

New business. Consistent generation of new business; direct, manage, and supervise efforts of subordinates in all areas mentioned in previous levels.

Salary range: $95K - $150K


10+ yrs

Vice president
Senior vice president
Office/practice MD

At smaller agencies, stock options and succession plans may be discussed at this level.
At larger firms, practitioners will be thinking about increased specialization in practice area, office and regional management, and/or client relationship management.

This level expects management of at least $500,000 to $1 million in account revenue, and new-business development with clients of at least $250,000 in fees. Also required are organization development strategies, personnel and human relations policy development, and marketing and promotional strategy development.

Supervise and set an example for individuals assigned with tasks such as personal and account time management; account information management; budget creation; analysis, and management; leadership; and relationship building.

The 10-year mark is a good time for practitioners to start their own firm. While many do
so earlier in their careers, 10 years' experience will be more of a draw for potential clients and financial backing.

Salary range: $150K - $200K


SPECIALTIES

Regional practice head

Those who have developed a specialization may lead that practice at a regional level,
ranging from two or three offices for a large agency, to an entire region for a smaller firm. This person also may be a global client relationship leader.

Salary range: $175K+

Functional head

Some firms have practitioners leading certain functions, such as creative director, brand strategy director, or head of media relations. Titles may follow a regional progression. This person also may be a global client relationship leader.

Salary range: $175K+

Office or regional GM

Depending on the size of the agency, those who have demonstrated leadership qualities and overall business management skills may lead an office, region, or country. This person also may be a global client relationship leader.

Salary range: $175K+

Global practice head

These individuals typically have regional practice leaders reporting to them, and may manage global accounts.

Salary range: $250K+

Global/intl. regional mgr.

Size of region will depend on size of firm. Titles may vary. Head of country/continent where firm is headquartered is often more senior than those managing other regions, and
fits equally into the CEO/president box (right).

Salary range: $250K+

Management board

Depending on the firm, there can be a number of titles at the uppermost management level, including chairman, whose relationship with the CEO/president varies among firms. These people may have direct practice or regional responsibilities.

Salary range: $300K+

CEO/president

This may be one person's job title, or it may be split between two people. Additionally, large US-based firms may have someone in a North American role, and someone in a global role. The former is often considered to be heir apparent to the latter.

Salary range: $300K+

Advisors:

PRSA Counselors Academy;
Maria Kalligeros, president, PT & Co.;
Michael Herman, chairman and CEO, Epley & Associates;
Deborah Radman, MD, Stanton Communications

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register
Already registered?
Sign in