Agency Life – The New “Family”

By Matt Trocchio (@Trochman)

So, in recent discussions I’ve tried finding new ways to discuss roles and responsibilities within an Agency PR team.  Like any organizational chart, when you really break it down, the best way to provide an overview of the team is to look at it like a mob family.  C’mon – go with me on this.  Believe it or not, this is not meant to be a negative connotation. (For any snickering readers, no, it’s not because PR pros are unrelenting or extortionists.)  Much like the mob, Agency teams can grow very protective of their members and work together to benefit the overall “family.”

Here are some thoughts on how it all breaks down:

VP/Director: The Don

Much like a Don, the head of the team should be setting direction, winning new business, setting up new alliances/networks and of course being the one to “drop the hammer” when necessary.  However, this person is not expected to get their hands dirty in the day-to-day work of an account (pitching, database work, etc.) As leader of the Family, this is the person that will provide overall guidance to the team with respect to its growth and the career paths of its members.

AM/SAM: The Capo

The fabled “underboss.”  As the next in line, Account Managers and Senior Account Managers act as the voice and enforcement of “the Don.”  These are the people that put into motion the activities set from above.  These are the ones junior staffers should be directing questions to and receiving daily assignments from.  Much like how Don Corleone wouldn’t remind his bookies that they need to collect, the VP shouldn’t be the one sending reminders for competitive tracking or database work.  (**As a note, this isn’t to say there aren’t hands-on VPs or that this position is unapproachable in any way)

The Capos are also the names that clients view as their “go-to’s” for questions and status updates on account projects.

SAE/AE/AC: Foot soldiers or “Button men”

These are the PR “feet on the street” enforcers.  In most cases these are the hard working boys and girls uncovering editorial, speaking & award opportunities for their clients.  These are the button men, the smile & dial-ers and the pros feared and loved by those they call.  This is a fun place to be in as it provides a lot of opportunity to grow and try new opportunities.  However, this can often be one of the scariest as you put yourself in “the line of fire” for rejection, rebuttal, etc.

Interns: “Newsies” or local street kids

We can’t forget to give credit to the interns.  In any agency there is always an intern or two helping out throughout the office.  In any mob movie you notice there is always some local kid that they trust to run numbers, deliver packages and send messages.  These kids are in training for future membership in the family.  Although they may not realize it, their tasks add up to major contributions as it frees up the soldiers to do other tasks.  Interns take on that same task, working hard on a project that may not seem huge in the micro, but will play a much larger role in the macro.

And, what about the owners or Principals you may be asking? Well, there is always a Boss of Bosses somewhere.  Bada Bing.

As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a PR pro.


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