Since NBC’s 2005 premiere of “The Office,” I assumed every desk job would be as extreme and satirical as the show. I always imagined a boss like Michael Scott running around pestering his employees, with a quirky right hand man like Dwight Schrute not far behind laughing at all the ridiculousness.
Now, I know that’s not real and that those characters remain on the screen, but part of me always wished that one day my step into the “real world” would consist of a job containing laughs, pranks, and friendship. When I started as a PR intern at 451 Marketing a few short months ago, I definitely walked in with that expectation. I got a lot of smiles and handshakes as I made my way around introducing myself on my first day. No sign of anyone sleeping at their desk like Stanley Hudson or any grumpy accountants like Angela Martin, but I was determined to find some similarity connecting 451 Marketing and Dunder Mifflin Paper Company, the fake company on “The Office.”
I remember how ridiculous I thought Michael Scott was to host all those meetings to brainstorm about how to make the office fun, but it turns out a boss that works hard knows how to play hard. At 451 Marketing, a light, fun air carries throughout the office because of the way the senior partners interact with their employees. There’s never a day without banter and smiling, which is a refreshing way to start my career.
THE PR TEAM
Sure enough, after about two months of working for the team, I’ve realized that there are similarities, but not the ones you would assume. In both situations, every team member personally tends to a handful of clients to make sure all their paper needs are being met. Sometimes members team up to work together to land a bigger client.
- “The Office”: In one episode Jim and Dwight from Dunder Mifflin pair off in an attempt to keep clients happy when they go on a personal sales call to visit every client in person to review their paper needs.
- At 451 Marketing: The PR team gets on a weekly call with their clients to review recent coverage requests and discuss what new information is available to share with consumers.
- “The Office”: In one episode, Jim and Dwight are attempting to sell a ream of paper to a client, but keep getting rejected. They explain to the customer that what they can lack in price discounts they make up for in customer service. To illustrate that point, they call Dunder Mifflin and the customer service rep picks up the phone right away. Then they call the “big company” competitor, and their rep does not pick up – they’re placed on a long hold. Not surprisingly, they close the sale.
- At 451 Marketing: By working at reception on occasion, I was trained to make sure that anyone that calls or walks through the doors must be greeted properly with a smile and the utmost service. I hear the PR team answer phone calls all day and have never heard a complaint about the ringing lines. 451 Marketing employees are always more than happy to talk and are never too busy to help out one of their valued customers.
A big part of NBC’s rendition of “The Office” is the people and their interactions between each department.
- “The Office”: Oscar in Accounting has to approve each sale in order for the salespeople to get commission. The show does a good job of displaying the circulation of information required not only for the transaction to be completed, but also for clients to be satisfied (invoices need to be sent out, the sales team has to interact with the warehouse to ship orders on time, etc.).
- At 451 Marketing: I sat in on a call with a client recently that included account updates from the Social Media Department, PR Department, and the Creative Department. Here, just like the show, there are multiple layers of departments that all need to come together to reach the satisfaction of a customer.
Just because the pranks and hysterical aspects of the show aren’t mimicked in real life, doesn’t mean that laughs don’t happen throughout the day. Banter is exchanged just like on the show, and I’ve learned being friends with your coworkers is not a myth.
Since I’ve been here, there’s been a coworker that:
- got married (like Jim and Pam on the show)
- a coworker that had a baby (like Angela on the show)
- and a coworker with a birthday (like Meredith on the show)
All were celebrated and congratulated! There have been deliveries of flowers from loved ones and treats from clients. No, there isn’t a huge party planned by the “party planning committee” every time an event comes up in an employee’s life, but each milestone is still treated as special.
I don’t necessarily relate to Ryan Howard, the temp of “The Office.” that wishes he had never been sent to the crazy paper company with peculiar coworkers, but:
- “The Office”: Ryan did grow within the company by starting as a temp, and then eventually running the company from corporate headquarters.
- At 451 Marketing: I’ve set goals within the company, managed an intern project for a real client, met some amazing people within my field, and started my career at a small company with amazing credentials where there’s room to network and grow as a person and a career woman.
Whether it be in paper business or the people business, sales or PR, temping or managing, offices all should be run the way 451 Marketing is: with happiness and dedication. I got my wish for a fun work environment after all.
To learn more about internship opportunities at 451, see our website!