Living Room Airlines: Agency Life & Living in the Windy City

On Wednesday’s session of Living Room Airlines, we got to take a virtual trip to the windy city, Chicago, Illinois, to hear about agency life in the Midwest’s largest city. 

To start off the night, we had an Agency Panel Q&A with Ali Graver from Mindshare, Sarah Corbin from Havas Chicago, and Casey Miller from Weber Shandwick. Each of them discussed why they choose to work for an agency and what they like and dislike about PR agency life. 

During this conversation, the professional mentioned the phrase, “PR professionals wear lots of hats.” They all said that their days consist of many different tasks such as pitching media, creating strategic communication plans, coordinating events, and much more. Sarah stated that as a PR professional, “no two days look the same.” So, if you are someone who likes to move quickly between tasks and projects, then the agency life may be for you. Next, the professionals dove into some misconceptions about the PR industry. Some of the common misconceptions that were discussed include: PR professionals only event-plan, PR does not require strategic thinking, and agency professionals have no choice on their clients. All three professionals explained how their work at agencies include a variety of tasks that are not party related, and how PR agencies require people to be strategic and creative thinkers. 

The panel of PR professionals finished their discussion by answering the question, “what has been your biggest challenge?” They mentioned that struggling to reach out for help at new jobs, specifically entry-level, can be a big challenge; however, they stated that learning to ask for help is a valuable skill in the PR industry. They also discussed the challenge of quick thinking and planning. PR often requires agencies and companies to strategically, yet quickly, figure out how to address a crisis or plan a campaign. Learning to feel comfortable in fast-paced situations can be an important skill when working in a big-city PR agency. 

Next, we heard from Amanda Kijinski from on her experience working in Chicago. Amanda spent the first section of her presentation discussing some technical terms in the PR industry like paid media, earned media, pragmatic media, and more. Earned media is gained through promotional initiatives like press releases and interviews. On the other hand, paid media is simply media that you pay for, like advertisements. Amanda then discussed pragmatic media, which is software and digital programs that purchase digital advertisements. 

After discussing types of media and the technical side of the PR industry, Amanda gave some tips on navigating post-grad life and living in Chicago. One of the pieces of advice that stood out was “just move– you will figure it out.” Amanda emphasized the importance in pursuing PR in a location that motivates and inspires you. Rather than spending your life dreaming about living somewhere else, just do it! She also discussed hiring in the PR agency and how most entry-level jobs are offered after post-grad internships. Finally, she finished our night by giving us some advice for living in Chicago like the best place to view the city and the cardinal rule of not putting ketchup on your hotdog.

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