Thursday, February 17, 2005

Stories From Inside 

A former colleague took a corporate PR job and has been sharing experiences that are interesting -- to me, at any rate. For one, the day he started was the day he learned his new boss was leaving. That's a touchy shift. One never knows what another new boss will want or expect. The chemistry and skills that got one the job in the first place might not be the chemistry and skills that helps one keep it under someone else. Fortunately, there isn't another boss in the offing for awhile. This will give him time to settle in without worrying about who comes next. He also has noted his duties were not precisely defined. I find that interesting because it seems to me corporations do better in packaging work than agencies.

Years ago, I flirted with the notion of going inside but never did. That was a mistake career-wise. One should have a feel for stresses inside a large organization. The problem was the PR job offered was so limited that it made no sense. At that time in major New York banks (It has since been merged out of existence.), jobs were defined so narrowly, there was little chance for growth.

Agency life is varied. One practices a range of skills and confronts problems calling for different solutions. But, at the end of the day one goes home and leaves a client's problems behind. In the corporate environment, those problems are there day after day. One has to learn the art of coalition building to get things done and to know where internal levers are. The hard work of an internal PR practitioner, it seems to me, is knowledge of the territory and connections one makes. It is through this invisible web that one effects change and creates good communications.

The former colleague is finding he is performing a range of duties that sound more like an agency than a typical corporate department. He writes that he learned a lot while he was in the agency business and that comes from the varied tasks of client service.


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