This past weekend, I joined other OU PRSSA students on the Dallas trip. We met with several agencies in downtown Dallas to tour and get our foot in the door with companies that many of us hope to work for in the future. From learning about how to polish a resume to meeting and talking directly to employees, we spent our Friday visiting SPM, Ketchum, Fleishman Hillard and the Richards Group.
SPM is ranked as the 5th Independent Public Relations Firm in Texas. We met with this agency first and learned what they look for in personal interviews, resume tips and an overall idea of what they do as an agency.
First, we took a tour of their office. It was very modern- every office space in the building had a white desk, and the walls were painted in bright colors. Each employee had a personal desk placed in smaller office rooms aligning the building. In the middle of the building was a big conference room, where we eventually all sat down to watch a slideshow presentation put on by each employee in the office.
The employees spoke about their roles within the company and the names of their clients, including Mimi’s, Nothing Bundt Cakes and Cici’s Pizza. Two of the employees are former OU graduates, and one of the interns graduated from OU in 2017. The intern, Shelby, was the secretary of PRSSA when she was a senior at OU. One unique thing I noticed about this company is that it is very dog friendly. Everyone is allowed to bring their dogs to work, so there were several dogs hanging out around us. Overall, I left with these tips below…
Bring in personal resume
Research interview questions before
Prepare at least 3 questions
Look professional (women: have your nails done)
No more than 1 page
Be descriptive about what you have done (sent press release to [list specific company])
Find a mentor to read over your resume before you turn it in
Send a great email with an attached resume
Cover letters are not too big of a deal
The next agency we visited was Ketchum. This agency is 95 years old and is part of Omnicom. They have teams and resources in over 70 offices around the world. We met in their conference room with two Senior Account Executives, the retail sector, the head of Influencer Relations and three new employees that had just finished the summer fellows internship program.
The employees discussed their roles at the agency and told us which clients they worked with directly. The retail sector employee, Jamey Peters, welcomed us with the history of the company. Sr. Account Executive Amy Baker discussed the work she had done with Wendy’s, including a Wendy’s Twitter campaign that targeted millennials and eventually appeared on Ellen DeGeneres’ talk show.
Amy achieved this with the help of Carter Wilkerson, who made Twitter history on his post about Wendy’s. With 18 million retweets, Carter Wilkerson surpassed Ellen DeGeneres’ Guinness World Record of retweets.
Gabby Caballero, the influencer relations at Ketchum, spoke to us about her role at this agency. She personally works with the client Orange Theory, where she connects with bloggers who she hopes will post positive things about Orange Theory. Another Senior Account Executive, Madilene Lake, discussed issues and crisis management that she works on with the company Exxonmobil.
Finally, the three new employees spoke to us about the Summer Fellows Internship Program. Their biggest advice to us was to begin building connections. Below are the notes I jotted down about the Summer Fellows Program…
Summer Fellows Program
Required to be available 40 hours per week
Application opens January 2019
Competition on pretend digital/creative campaigns
The next agency we visited was Fleishman Hillard. This agency is located on the 34th floor of a building in downtown. They greeted us with fresh warm cookies when we arrived, and there was a full kitchen in the conference room that was available for the employees to use on a regular basis. One of the employees told me how many of them joke about getting the “Fleishman Hillard 15” in relation to the “freshman 15”, as they have people constantly making sweets in the kitchen.
Overall, the employees were diverse yet shared the same value of providing quality work to their clients. We had several employees discuss work they have completed with clients such as Longhorn Steakhouse, Lowe’s and Google. Below are a few facts the employees shared with us...
92% of consumers are likely to trust peers over advertising
The people are who consumers look at for inspiration or advice
You can’t force an influencer to say something positive; therefore, building strong relationships is important
When writing a press release, use the strategy of “and, but, therefore” to get your point across clearly
Two employees spoke to us about what an average day looked like as a Fleishman Hillard employee:
Day in the Life of Fleishman Hillard Employees
Reading and replying to many emails
Stalking companies to make a scoring process
Building product sheets
Creating and producing case studies based on research
The Richards Group
Lastly, we visited The Richards Group, a branding agency that endears brands to people. This agency is located in a beautiful building over Central Expressway. It was designed by the CEO with special intentions behind each piece of the building. Two job recruiters gave us a tour of the agency and pointed out each design that the CEO created. Listed below are some of the designs I wrote down…
Each room is named after one of the longest working employees currently in the office (honoring them for their committed years spent with the company)
The printers are located by the kitchen so people could multitask
The elevators are located on the outside of the building, so there is a 360-degree view of the Dallas skyline on every floor
No offices are closed off because the CEO believes in an open-door policy
The top floor of the building is a workout facility, spin studio, yoga studio, juice bar and nap room, because the CEO is passionate about health
This agency is composed of 750 employees that work amongst themselves, so everyone is valued in the agency, and they don’t have corporate titles. Some of their major clients are Fruit of the Loom, Home Depot and Zales. After the tour, we met with three new employees that gave us advice for getting a job at an agency like the Richards Group. Below are the notes I took…
Tips to Get a Job At The Richards Group
Attend networking events at your school
Take an accounting class; you use these skills often
Build a LinkedIn profile and use a professional picture
Make a website for yourself
Learn about different companies
Use a traditional resume when you apply for the job
This trip was a great experience, and we learned a lot about the different agencies. As we left, we were all astonished by the amount of things we learned in one day. It was truly an enlightening experience, and I encourage more OU students to get involved with OU PRSSA, because it gives you opportunities to learn more about companies and network with them, further preparing you for a future career in PR.