If you’ve ever worked with or for an agency (of the advertising, branding, or PR variety), you are familiar with the term “account manager.” The role is crucial to maintaining an efficient and successful marketing firm, but even the best accounts people often go unrecognized because the nature of their work isn’t all glitz and glam. We took some time this week to sit down with our own Union Williams, Jordan Hunt, and Sabreena Sorrell for a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to be an account manager. See how they keep our clients happy and our team on track.
What past experiences have helped you in your role as an account manager?
Sabreena: My undergraduate degree was in visual communication design, and I’ve worked in brand and product management. My design background has helped me collaborate with our creative team, and I have a better understanding of the process and the importance of the aesthetic. Brand and product management helps in facilitating the execution of projects as well as staying on time and within budget.
Jordan: I’ve been in account management for a little over five years, but I’ve always gotten along well with all sorts of people. Organization has been a strong suit of mine.
Union: Seeing countless projects from start to finish over the last dozen years has helped me realize how much work really goes into it. I’ve also had the privilege of working with a lot of very intelligent, inspirational clients from many industries over the years. Quite often, we learn the most from our clients.
What does your typical day look like?
Sabreena: A typical day is atypical! It varies depending upon project deliverables. One day could be meetings with clients, web content management, and PR management. Another might be site visits, brainstorming sessions, and collateral management. And some days I see all of the above and more.
Jordan: Honestly, there’s really not a typical day. Usually, I have a couple of calls, a few internal meetings, and one or two client visits.
Union: The day always starts with coffee and a list of high-priority tasks that must be dealt with. I personally really enjoy the creative process so I like to speak with the writers and designers every chance I get.
What are the biggest challenges of being an account manager?
Sabreena: Last-minute changes. Even the best-laid plans can be uprooted by inevitable edits or changes.
Union: The biggest challenge is anticipating a potential hiccup before it becomes an issue. You become the office buzzkill very quickly when you’re always looking for the hole in the armor. Maybe you even get the nickname “Papa,” which I don’t love.
What is your favorite part about being an account manager?
Sabreena: Telling the client story and knowing, at the end of the day, that I’ve helped others. Collaborating with our creative teams to put out projects we’re proud of, and knowing we made a difference as a collective team.
Jordan: My favorite part is seeing everything come together—whether that’s a website, a video, or a large event. Also, I love branding, but I am not artistic in any sense of the word, so this is how I can help in that aspect. It’s fun for me to see the story of a brand emerge.
Union: My favorite part is telling a designer, writer, or strategist that they did a great job and the client loved it. These are people who put their hearts into the work they do, and when a project is successful, I enjoy telling them about it.
Is there a recent project you’ve worked on that you’re especially proud of?
Jordan: Christ Church Cathedral has been a great partner to work with, and we were especially excited when we got to work on their signature event, the Strawberry Festival. We started developing the concept about two to three months out, and Josh Taylor knocked it out of the park with a hand-drawn design that was the foundation of this year’s event branding.
Union: Our work with Visit Bloomington includes broadcast TV and videos, which is very exciting and challenging. Having trust in your video partner to pull off your vision makes all the difference in the world. We’ve had the pleasure of working with some very talented people over the years that share in our passion for great work.
Any lessons learned?
Sabreena: Learning to be fluid in a structured way. I know, sounds contrary and strange, but I have learned through process and in execution of timelines and deadlines. Staying positive and mindful throughout stressful situations helps shape interactions all around.
Union: We have an interesting job because we get the opportunity to learn on a deep level about such a wide variety of industries. An industry you never dreamed would be interesting can completely consume your thoughts for days. I’m constantly challenging myself to understand my clients’ worlds better. It’s tough, but fun.
What sets Pivot apart from other agencies?
Sabreena: The strength of our departments and how we’re specialized in both creative and strategy.
Jordan: I think the biggest thing that sets Pivot apart is the strategic arm that we have. At other agencies, this could be combined with account management (or missing altogether). The separation allows me to focus more of my time on making sure the clients get what they want, when they want it.
Union: This is going to sound cliché, but we’re never satisfied. A job well done only lasts a few minutes, and then it’s on to the next challenge. We’re always looking to get better and learn from our mistakes. Things can always be improved, and over the last five years at Pivot, they’ve improved a lot. I hope the trend continues.