5 lessons from working on the client side

A shift in roles delivers a fresh perspective—and important guidelines for PR pros.

After many years in the agency world—from boutiques to multinationals—I found myself in that magical place called in-house. As a client, I looked forward to developing a companywide communications strategy. I envisioned following an orderly protocol for media relations, being the internal expert and adviser to senior management, and having smart agency partners.

The reality was very different. Senior executives called journalists directly without consulting my department. PR firms were considered vendors, to be held at arm’s length. Communications strategy was frequently a work in progress.

The bottom line: Being on the client side comes with a whole set of issues and challenges that few agency people understand or take into account. Here are a few lessons from the other side of the table, based on my experience as a client at two different companies, working with several major PR firms.

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