Monday, May 2, 2011

Making the leap from corporate to agency, with PPRA’s help

The conversation started with an off-hand remark at the PPRA Hall of Fame luncheon last year. I was on maternity leave, but I didn’t want to miss the Hall inducting Lisa Simon. After the festivities, I was catching up with fellow PPRA board member Chris Lukach and I mentioned that I didn’t know how I was going to successfully do my job while juggling a new baby and a two-hour commute.

Like most new parents, I was planning to go back to work. I wasn’t really looking to leave my challenging, engaging job that had afforded me many opportunities over the past six years.

Chris sympathized, and casually mentioned that maybe we should do lunch once I figured out what my plans were.

Fast forward several months and lunches and meetings, and I’m now a Senior Account Manager at Anne Klein Communications Group, working alongside Chris and the AKCG team.

Because of my leap, I am frequently questioned by colleagues: “What’s life like on the other side?”

The fact of the matter is that it is much the same. The work is the same. It requires the same skill set; I’m just managing a more diverse workload. I may be working one day to promote conservation steps a water company has taken, while the next day I may be working on a crisis for a hospital. I’m still working with great friends and interesting clients, just in a different capacity.

What’s different is how I sell my abilities. In corporate, “selling” my abilities stopped at my last job interview. Most of my colleagues assumed that I could perform my job if I was hired for it. Now, I sell our team’s talent every day to current clients, future clients, and, frankly, anyone who will listen.

What is also different is the dynamic with my former colleagues in corporate America. If I tell them about our capabilities, will they think I’m over selling? Do they think I’ll charge them for the same conversations about work we have always had?

These hang-ups are likely manufactured in my mind, but they make me extra cautious around corporate colleagues — friends, really — I’ve known for several years.

The truth is that I would like their business. I do want to work with them, but I don’t want it to be at the expense of our relationship. The balance between professional connections and friendships exists, but I’m still finding it. Because, after all, you never know when the next off-hand remark to a friend will lead into the next client, the next project, the next opportunity.

This blog post was written by PPRA President Beth Archer.  Beth is a Senior Account Manager at Anne Klein Communications Group in Mount Laurel, N.J., where she works with clients in the utility, healthcare and higher education industries.  She had her first internship when clips where still clipped out of a newspaper. Connect with Beth on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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