Account coordinator - what's it like?
December 18, 2009 3:52 PM   Subscribe

What's it like being an account coordinator at a PR firm? I've read some job profiles online, but I'd like to hear personal experiences. What's the day-to-day work like, and what sort of person would be good for the job? I see there's a past question that touches on being an account exec, but this is the rung below, right?
posted by trillian to Work & Money (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Varies widely. Depends on the firm. I have hired people at that level for my company.

Here in NYC: Account coordinators may be asked to create, update and keep databases, mailing lists and followup lists current. They usually also answer phone calls, call editors or vendors, edit or (sometimes) write press releases, marketing materials and/or pitch letters. They may be asked to cold call pitch editors. They sometimes need to sort / edit / email digital images. They may also be asked to compile client reports, sort press clippings, create printed press kits or burn cd's. An Account Coordinator may put together packages or gift bags for editors as well. They will probably be asked to attend events and parties, to handle rsvp's and manage media attendees.

Some of those responsibilities may be handled by interns at larger firms.

Depending on the firm, the positions can be long hours especially during peak activity periods. At a relatively low pay scale. But most companies move their coordinators up quickly. If they don't, they will probably bounce over to another firm with better opportunities.

I'm sure I've missed stuff. If you have additional questions, feel free to MeMail me.
posted by zarq at 4:11 PM on December 18, 2009

Seriously, though, my last job was as an Account Coordinator at a small PR firm and it was miserable. The hours were long, the clients were demanding, and anything that went wrong was automatically my fault. It might have been worth it if I enjoyed PR, but I didn't. Now I work in non-profit fundraising and communications and find that much more satisfying and meaningful (although still tedious and demanding at times).
posted by rabinowitz at 4:13 PM on December 18, 2009

Also, it's worth noting that at most companies, account coordinators are usually asked for their creative input on campaigns and materials.
posted by zarq at 4:14 PM on December 18, 2009

Yep, my last job was as an account coordinator and I'm going to second everything that rabinowitz said. That said... it was a damn good learning experience precisely because "anything that went wrong was automatically my fault." What that actually translates to is an entry-level position with legitimate, client-facing responsibility... which can leave the newbies wracked with stress. However, once you get the hang of things, it's kind of cool to know you have an entry-level job that really matters to your company.

Also, I was asked to give creative input... so make sure you're interested in the industry you pursue.

Would I have taken the job, knowing now what I know then? Probably. Am I glad I left? Absolutely. I now get paid more to work 8:30-5, not my AC's hours of 8-6 + 2 hrs on the weekend + events + constant stress.
posted by samthemander at 6:39 PM on December 18, 2009

While I didn't work in a PR firm, I did the account management track at ad agencies for several years starting out on the bottom rung and it was a similar experience.

When people say you get blamed for everything that goes wrong, its probably because its your fault. You are expected to make mistakes but you are also expected to learn from them and hopefully you don't screw up so badly that you lose your job or hurt the company. Many of my long nights were the direct result of my screwing up but you can bet that I never made the same mistake twice.

Starting out you will have horrible hours and even worse pay but if you can stick it out for a year or so and do decently, odds are you'll get promoted and start earning a livable wage. Even if you decide you don't want to do it for a career, you'll gain some valuable organizational skills and learn how to handle yourself professionally in a business environment which is a critical skill to learn early on.
posted by Elminster24 at 10:22 PM on December 18, 2009

I worked as an AC for a small but very successful Austin-based PR agency from 2000-2002. I transitioned from typical AC to full-time writing and editing work in those two years, so I don't know how common my experience is.

Basically, they started me out with the following duties:
-Easy press release and media alert writing and distribution
-Lots of media relations research and database maintenance (contacts at publications, maintaining the contact databases)
-Organizing work schedule for account executive and VP (scheduling meetings and also making sure work aligned with communications plans and time lines)
-Putting together presentation materials
-Cold calls to media
-Newspaper and online media clippings
-Research and client briefings for industry analysts meetings
-Assembling trade show briefings and press folders
-Brainstorming creative and communications plans

Later on, I got to do higher level writing and AE stuff:
-Writing, editing, and designing communications plans
-Ghost writing speeches and articles for clients
-Writing web content
-Organizing and planning community and media events
-Attending trade shows
-Serving as AE on pro bono accounts

Most ACs worth their weight were promoted to AE positions within two years, senior AEs within five years. Everyone else left or became VPs or creative directors within ten years.
posted by lunalaguna at 5:51 PM on December 19, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks, all. This was very helpful. (I decided not to apply, for a variety of reasons.)
posted by trillian at 10:53 AM on January 3, 2010

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