By Rebecca Cooper

Going on an Agency Tour? You might want to read this.

As a newly declared PR major, I never even heard of an “agency tour” until about three weeks ago. Prior to joining Wayne State’s PRSSA chapter, I never explored PR outside of a classroom setting. Unsure of what an agency tour was, but knowing I needed to learn more about the profession, I impulsively signed up for one. However, I can confidently say that I was NOT prepared. At some point in your PR professional development journey, you’ll tour a public relations agency, so I wrote these tips to help. Some are probably painfully obvious, but I am hoping my mistakes and shortcomings will help prepare you for a great agency tour experience.

Research the agency before the tour.

Take the time to investigate the agency you are visiting. Review its website, get a feel for the work culture, scan its Glassdoor profile and visit the agency’s social media handles. Trust me, you’ll feel far less intimidated if you walk in with some general understanding of the company you’re touring. Not to mention, you’ll understand and appreciate the scope of responsibilities of the public relations professionals you’ll meet. You wouldn’t walk into a job interview without knowing anything about the company. Treat an agency tour as a potential job opportunity.

Dress the part.

Going on an agency tour is an excellent excuse to take a shower. You’re not going to want to roll out of bed and throw on a hoody for this. Allocate yourself with enough time to polish your look. We live in a visually-driven world where first impressions count. A general rule of thumb: If you’re unsure of what to wear to your agency tour, go business casual (black pants and blazer). Avoid wearing jeans, keep the Ugg boots at home and definitely don’t wear perfume or cologne heavy enough to induce a migraine.

Bring a pen and paper.

Take notes! Take notes! Take notes! Write down any questions you have, names of the professionals you’ve met with and anything that was said with any remote value. WRITE. IT. DOWN. Extra points if you invest in a leather bound journal. The students who participated on the agency tour with me who had notebooks looked much more professional than those who showed up with nothing at all. And trust me, being the only person in the room without a writing utensil or piece of paper is mildly embarrassing.

Ask questions.

Do NOT be shy. Agency tours are designed for us to learn about the industry. Although it is true there are no stupid questions, I would recommend asking questions that may benefit the entire group. It’s helpful to your peers if you save personal questions for one-on-one time after the tour is complete. Keep in mind, PR professionals are extremely busy, so maximize the limited time you have on the tour with questions that get to the grit.

Say “Thank You.”

At the end of the tour, be sure to shake hands with each individual who took the time out of his or her busy schedule to help you evolve as a young professional. This also is an excellent time to exchange business cards. So tip number 5.1 – Create an organized place where you can store all of the connections you make on your tours!

This article was published in the Salute newsletter. Salute is the biannual newsletter that recaps the Chapter’s activities throughout the semester. To read the latest issue of Salute, click here.