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How to be a truly exceptional Account Director in corporate communications

09 Mar 2016 by Sarah Leembruggen.

So what are the attributes that senior PRs in the Corporate sector look for in an exemplary Account Director?  Do you possess the qualities that will set you apart and land you this role? 

Run through our checklist to make sure you are ticking all the professional boxes.

1) First-rate media relations

Obvious yet important - having strong experience in media handling is an absolute must for any aspiring professional in the field of PR and communications.  Dealing effectively with the press in proactive work – for content creation, as well as reactive work – for responding to issues and crises, is an integral skill for an Account Director. While the landscape may be changing with online media revolutionising PR, the core skills remain the same.  A top-notch Account Director will be able to understand the news agenda and what will work for different media, as well as maintaining strong media links in both the national and trade publications. In short, the ability to further develop networks with relevant media contacts will do nothing but serve you well throughout your career.

2) Well-developed strategic thinking

‘Great strategic skills’ is a constant refrain from our clients in search of the superstar Account Directors.  Strategic thinkers have the ability to use the left and right sides of their brain, a skill that takes practice, but one that is incredibly valuable in an Account Director.  If you have sharp and well-honed strategic skills, you will be able to think ‘big picture’ and have a good awareness of the client objectives as part of a wider business structure.  Being able to act in an advisory capacity with your clients will demonstrate your value to them, whilst developing your professional talents at the same time.  Ask yourself – do you think, act and influence others in ways that promote both the short and long-term objectives of the business?  Strategic thinking takes a broad view, involving the right people, asking the right questions and taking decisive action that will bring success.

3) Flawless writing skills

Arguably the skill that tops the priority list, having strong writing skills with an excellent level of attention to detail is vital in the demanding and fast-paced world of corporate agencies.  The creation of compelling content is a fundamental communications skill.  A truly skilled Account Director will have the ability to craft and use language for clarity, authority, persuasion and impact. 

4) Up-to-the minute knowledge

The standout Account Directors in these sectors keep ahead of the curve when it comes to industry knowledge and are skilled at continually developing and improving their understanding of the market.  Are you signed up to relevant industry publications, or discussing market trends with your extensive network?  Do you have a mentor who you can learn from?  By keeping up-to-date with news and trends in your sector, you will spot threats and opportunities early on, giving you that competitive edge. You’ll also develop expertise that will earn you the trust and respect of the people around you.

5) Expert client handling

Managing key retained clients for your agency and also bringing on new business are valuable strings to your career bow, especially if they are impressive big name brands in the sector and they have been solely under your ownership.  Exceptional Account Directors in this space have solid experience in client handling and are also sure to have highlighted how they built and nurtured relationships of open communication and mutual trust on their CV.

6) Superb communication ability

Indisputably one of the top requirements of any PR professional, being not just a good communicator, but a top-notch one will mean that, as an exceptional Account Director, you can build exceptional relationships with your team, your clients and all the media contacts in your little black book, thus expanding your network with ease, winning further new business for your agency.  Gold!

Do you agree with the list?  If you’d like to share your thoughts with us, just tweet us @theworksrecruit using #standoutAD.

The Works Search specialise in placing mid to senior level PR and communications talent in leading PR agencies and in-house organisations across London, on both a contingency and executive search basis. For our latest roles visit our jobs page, or contact the team on 0207 559 6690 to discuss your career in confidence.

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