For the last two weeks, I have been embedded in the Tampa office of H+K (Hill + Knowlton) Strategies, one of the largest public relations agencies in the United States and the world.
Thanks to a Plank Center Educators Fellowship, I was able to spend two full weeks talking, one on one, to the different members of the office, including the executive vice-president and general manager, senior vice presidents, account supervisors, account executives, assistant account executives, administrative assistants, external consultants and visiting experts from other H+K offices in the United States. I also attended conference calls with clients and even a digital/social media boot camp that took place internally.
It has been a phenomenal learning experience for me to see, in action, how the PR-agency world works and to understand, in greater detail, the agency’s practice areas; the process of developing objectives, strategies and tactics for clients; the impact of digital and social media in the industry; the expertise and professionalism of the different members of the team; the balance needed between having general PR skills but also industry-specific insights; the relevance of measuring results; and even the coordination practices that have to be in place when you work for a multinational agency such as H+K Strategies, where you have to have periodic conference calls with clients in a context where the client has several persons involved in the conversation, and the agency also has a team of experts on the phone at the same time, most of them in Tampa, but others joining from different states and time zones.
Without disclosing any specific details, I will be referring to each of these aspects in coming blog posts.
I hope that these insights will be useful to other communications professors, other public relations professionals and, most of all, to strategic communications/public relations students, especially my students in the School of Communications at Elon University.
I want to finish, today, by thanking every member of the team at H+K Strategies in Tampa, especially Mr. Harry Costello, for opening the agency’s doors, for hosting me, for spending part of their busy days talking to me, for sharing so much knowledge, and for being so warm. I am very appreciative. Thank you.