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  • Karen Meachen

COMING FULL CIRCLE, BUT WITH A VERY DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE

I made the move from PR agency life to in-house 15 years ago and vowed to never look back. While the hours in any comms role are demanding and will never fit the conventional 9-5 mould, I was working on some of the agency’s highest-profile clients and juggling their never-ending demands was exhausting. After six fantastic, but tiring years, I made the decision to move internally, to focus all my attention on one business, and firmly close the door on my PR agency days. Or so I thought!


When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, it was a turning point for so many reasons. For me, like any working parent, the height of lockdown was stressful. Juggling a full time Head of Comms role in a global crisis while home schooling (even writing those words still makes me shudder) was incredibly draining. However, the flexibility of working from home brought so many benefits to my life. I was able to do the school runs, attend class assemblies and cheer from the side lines on Sports Day, all while delivering the requirements of my role. As society started to get back to normal, I didn’t want this to change.


The crisis ‘come down’ and ‘great resignation’ headlines also made me question where my career was heading. Don’t get me wrong, my employer was fantastic, but I had become comfortable in my role - too comfortable for my liking - and my passion had started to wane. There was nowhere for me to move internally, so I made the difficult decision to look for a fresh challenge.


I won’t lie, I built up many barriers with my negative thinking. “There is no way I’m going to find a senior comms role which will allow me the flexibility to work from home”. “Being a new employee also means having to be in the office to get up to speed on the business. How will this work with the children and the dog?” etc, etc… I was almost defeated before I had even tried.


Some would say what happened next was fate. I saw a LinkedIn post from The PR Network advertising a Client Services Director role to work on some of the agency’s biggest clients. I had worked with George and Nicky 20 years ago and had followed their business journey with interest, long admiring their agile alternative to the traditional PR agency set-up. Our model allows the core team and its 1,800+ associates worldwide to work flexibly without compromising on results. After speaking with their senior management team, the rest as they say, is history.


I’m writing this four weeks into my new role with my patio doors wide open on a gloriously sunny day and I couldn’t be happier. Working for a virtual PR agency is a breath of fresh air and to think The PR Network was launched 17 years ago is astonishing. Thankfully, it’s a completely different experience to the agency life I once knew and promised I’d never return to!


I’d like to share some of the benefits; many are a first for me despite working in the industry for 21 years:


Only working with associates with 15+ years' experience means we're able to handpick a senior comms team bespoke to every single client. How many jobs enable you to choose your team? This approach ensures we have the right experts for the job and gives us unrivalled access to a much wider network of talent than account teams confined to a physical office. The added bonus is that within that network exists decades upon decades of knowledge and experience we can draw upon to provide the best possible service to our clients


Technology - this is the backbone of our business. Staying across cutting-edge innovations and trends is therefore built into what we do. Having spent many years in-house, this knowledge can sometimes slip as you become consumed by the day job


Variety - we work with such wide-ranging clients across different sectors, meaning no two days are ever the same


Complete flexibility - in the services we offer our clients and how we operate as a team


Culture - we’re an effective and close-knit team and we embrace innovation. We’re only one click or call away from helping and supporting one another if needed, we share the workload, we blend our virtual and in person catch-ups and we respect each other’s styles and preferences

Many businesses have used the Covid-19 pandemic as an opportunity for change. The PR Network didn’t have to. It’s such a progressive business which enables my working day to be moulded around my life. We’re a core team of eight with 18 children, 22 sheep, nine dogs, nine chickens, one cat, and soon to be one pony between us. Our families are accepted as part of our (hectic) lifestyles, not as an inconvenience which disturbs the traditional 9-5 working day. The team has welcomed me with open arms and I’m relishing being back in an agency. Something I thought I would never say.


#pr #comms #flexibleworking #worklifebalance

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