Coming up on our eighth summer in business, I was reflecting on the years and how our training has evolved. With 21 team members ranging from interns and account coordinators up to VPs our training requirements are pretty varied.
About two years ago, we adopted monthly all hands interactive training sessions that we hold during lunchtime – Lunch-n-Learns. These sessions address all levels and tend to focus on what each team member can do in their daily lives – with their account teams and with their clients.
I hosted our June session and covered PR measurement. Other Lunch-n-Learn sessions have covered time management hosted by Juliana and social media hosted by Meredith. We also bring in outside experts including reporter Matt Kelly of Compliance Week, analyst Ari Banerjee of Heavy Reading, and our partner SEO firm Market Vantage. We’re also looking forward to our session with Jennifer Saragosa of BusinessWire this Wednesday. These sessions are also highly interactive and really give us a great perspective.
Yesterday, I was reading this article about training new members on the basics of PR. The author, Mickie Kennedy, founder of eReleases, states that your training should not only include the basics of PR but also a method for acclimating new people on how your business does things. Getting to know the way an agency interacts and works with clients can often be the most difficult to wrap your head around when you first start. This was the experience of a few of our senior account executives who came from other agencies.
Through their suggestions we set up a shadowing program where a new team member shadows someone at their level for two weeks. They spend two sessions a week going through all the tools we use, our reporting, our measurement methods, our blogging program etc. We use an account team email alias and encourage new staff to “email shadow” to get a feel for the interaction and flow. We’ve had great feedback from this program and our newest hire Sarah Hurley is undergoing it as I write this post.
Mickie also mentions that someone new to PR might work out better than someone who is well versed. We’ve had great results from those new to PR and those who’ve come from other agencies or in-house. Our ways are not so dissimilar that we would need to completely retrain new team members.
We’ve also put in place an employee development program where each employee works with their managers to develop and hone their skills. This also happens naturally in our day to day lives. I remember Sarah Love, an account executive at March, saying recently that she was really proud of the progress she had made with writing bylined articles. It comes with experience and working with great managers who’ve helped her every step of the way.
Are there other training programs that work well in your agency or PR department?
*Image taken from April’s Lunch-n-Learn on Social Media