Illinois State University PRSSA members traveled to Chicago bright and early Friday, April 11 to visit Weber Shandwick, GolinHarris, and Ogilvy.
Former ISU PRSSA President Kaitie Ries led the tour at Weber Shandwick, where she is now an assistant digital associate. Ries encouraged members to tweet about the tour with the hashtag #WSWChat. During the presentation, digital analyst Alberto Fabian used the hashtag to demonstrate how Weber Shandwick analyzes social media and trending topics.
Members learned that Weber Shandwick is the second largest public relations agency in the world. However, they have evolved into what the presenters described as an “everything” agency, offering a 360 degree integrated marketing and communications program for their clients.
Ries and her colleagues explained that Weber Shandwick is a very millennial-friendly place to work and that the agency employs people from diverse skill sets. Weber Shandwick has an “evolving talent pool” of storytellers, reputation managers, directors, strategists, chefs, and more. Bringing variety into the agency makes Weber Shandwick a better-rounded, more creative firm.
The tour presentation explained more about Weber Shandwick’s healthcare, digital, creative and analytic teams. When it comes to analytics, it’s all about reports, tracking, and environmental scanning. The analytics team at Weber Shandwick uses the program Brandwatch to monitor social media engagement. During the presentation, Fabian used it to track #WSWChat and show what kind of engagement was happening and whether it was positive or negative. Members thought this was a cool way to “show, not tell” what analytics is all about.
The internship program at Weber Shandwick is called “engaging u.” Interns are included in everything from the start of the internship, even brainstorming sessions. Ries said that an intern’s attitude toward their accounts is really important, since it will affect how they will perform and enjoy their accounts.
Many agencies are known for the long hours their employees work, so members were relieved to hear that Weber Shandwick interns only work eight hours and leave at 5:30 p.m. every day. However, employees are dedicated and work until the job is done. Public relations is a 24/7 career.
In the Q&A portion of the presentation, members asked about the benefits of working in a large agency. Ries and her colleagues explained there is more opportunity, bigger and more clients, and a bigger budget in larger agencies. At Weber Shandwick, interns get exposure to a variety of clients and a breadth of resources.
Ries went on to say that mentorship and guidance is a big part of Weber Shandwick. Interns are not just thrown into the mix without direction. At a smaller agency, however, interns really “do everything” an assistant account executive would.
After the presentation, members were divided into smaller groups where they could get advice and ask more specific or personal questions. Members were encouraged to always tell their bosses and co-workers what they are interested in helping out with and to be their own advocate.
Next, members traveled two floors up in the John Hancock Center to visit GolinHarris, Weber Shandwick’s sister agency. Al Golin founded the agency after cold-calling Ray Kroc, who had just purchased a small hamburger chain called McDonald’s. To this day, McDonald’s is still GolinHarris’s biggest client. While the agency has a young feel, many employees stay at GolinHarris for a long time.
Presenters Rachel and Brianna explained GolinHarris’s revolutionary g4 Model, which places employees into one of four communities: Catalysts, Connectors, Creators and Strategists. GolinHarris offers a short quiz on their website that tells people which community is the best fit.
Catalysts are “change agents who drive the integrated campaign execution and champion new opportunities for our clients.” Catalysts are in the “eye” of the hurricane because they make everything come together.
Connectors are “channel experts who engage consumer, business and trade audiences through 15 distinct touch points.” Connectors engage the media and are storytellers at heart.
Creators are “bold thinkers who generate game-changing ideas, and design and produce highly engaging content.” Creators bring stories to life visually and think in terms of the big picture. Both Rachel and Brianna are members of the Creator community.
Strategists are “business analysts whose insights inspire campaigns and whose analytics measure success.” Strategists bring measurable data that help make informed and meaningful decisions.
The last agency PRSSA members toured was Ogilvy. This agency provided a unique insight into its culture and values through video clips.
David Ogilvy was “The Original Mad Man” and the agency has deep roots in the advertising world. Today, Ogilvy is a fully integrated marketing communications firm. The agency has many different branches and focuses including advertising, customer engagement, cause-related marketing, direct marketing, healthcare advertising, media relations and promotional marketing.
Ogilvy seeks interns and employees who harness eight specific habits that bring out inner greatness. These habits are curiosity, idealism, courage, persistence, candor, intuition, free-spiritedness and playfulness.
Visiting the offices of WeberShandwick, GolinHarris and Ogilvy gave members an inside look into the “real world” of public relations. Members left the tour better prepared for their internship and job searches thanks to this learning and networking experience.
By Lily Sherer
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PRecisely PR is the blog of the Illinois State University Chapter of the PRSSA. We write about Chapter events, the public relations industry, member profiles, and more.