4 Things College Didn’t Teach Me About Agency Life

April 24, 2018

Since starting my first real job in the agency world nearly three whole months ago, I’ve become a source of wisdom and knowledge for many soon-to-be grads. Just kidding. But I have had a few opportunities to answer the questions of those who will soon be starting their post grad careers, and one question I often hear is, “What didn’t you learn in college that wish you knew before starting your job?” The answer, of course, is going to be different for everyone, but I thought I’d list four things I didn’t know before starting at Fast Horse.

Excel

Because I was a PR major in the college of liberal arts, Excel was not part of our curriculum. Yes, I had used Excel before starting here, but my skills were pretty rudimentary. Luckily, YouTube exists. We use Excel every day, whether it’s to track coverage, create influencer lists or just keep things organized. You probably won’t be expected to know how to use every tool in Excel, but my advice is to give yourself a little crash course at home via some online tutorials.

Acronyms

So. Many. Acronyms. SOW, EOD, CTA, RFP, SMT and many more. It will take some time to figure them all out and a great way to do this is to ask questions! People want you to understand what’s going on, so speak up when you feel like everyone’s talking in another language. P.S. I once spent 15 minutes trying to figure out what WF stood for… turns out it just stands for “Whole Foods” which is something you’ll need to know if you want to work in the North Loop/Downtown Minneapolis area. Here’s a key to get you started:

  • SOW – Scope of Work
  • EOD – End of Day
  • EOBD – End of Business Day
  • EOW – End of Week
  • CTA – Call to Action
  • RFP – Request for Proposal
  • LOI – Letter of Intent
  • AOR – Agency of Record
  • SMT – Satellite Media Tour
  • WTF – This one is specific to Fast Horse and stands for Weekly Time Forecast (I promise!)

Pitching Over the Phone

If you were a PR major in college, chances are you learned how to write a solid pitch letter. However, you probably didn’t learn how to pitch over the phone, which is way scarier. I, in fact, just did this for the first time a couple weeks ago and it was THRILLING. Of the 15 editors I called, one picked up and our conversation lasted approximately 30 seconds before she asked me to just email her the information. But hey, at least I didn’t get hung up on, right? This is something you’ll just have to get a feel for, and if you land in a place like Fast Horse that’s willing to walk you through the process before throwing you in, you’ll be just fine.

Influencer Partnerships

I don’t know if this is the case at every school, but during my time as a PR major we didn’t spend much time learning about the growing importance of social media influencer partnerships. However, this tactic is part of nearly every campaign we work on. There’s a lot to learn about how these partnerships work, including how to find the right influencers for the campaign, how to reach out to them,  how to brief them, how to make sure they’re content is approved before they post it,  how to track the content once it’s posted and more. This is something I work on a lot and while it’s not necessarily difficult, there are a lot of small details that go into the process. Luckily, influencer work can be really fun!

So there you have it — four things I didn’t know before starting at Fast Horse. There will be many more you won’t know when you start your first job, but by asking questions and being willing to jump in on anything, you’ll learn quickly. Something I love about this industry is that everyone is constantly learning, even those who have been in the game for much longer than me. Remember to ask questions, take any opportunity that comes to you and don’t be afraid to dive in head first. Sometimes, it’s the best way to learn.