Over lunch today, Cordelia asked me, has it been what you expected? Now obviously nobody wants to reveal their cards to a new employer too soon, so just between you and me, I can say it’s definitely surpassed expectations.
Having worked in PR agencies for almost a decade - over half of that time in London agencies - I’m pretty au fait with the many drawbacks that agency life can bring. Contrary to popular believe, it’s not all champagne and ‘cigarettes darling’. We’re professionals and we work bloody hard for our clients, even the ones that aren’t particularly nice to us (which is a lot more than you might think). That often leads to extremely long hours, exhaustion and - being slightly more honest that I should in a blog like this - a complete lack of self-worth in some cases.
I know what you’re thinking, why on earth would I choose to work at another agency? Well, that wasn’t the intention! In fact, when I left my last job earlier this summer, I was adamant that I had left agency life behind for good, that my next role would be a comms manager or head of PR at a start-up. Then I met FieldHouse, and as much as I tried to resist, they reminded me what agencies should be, what I had fallen in love with years earlier.
For me, the heart of this lies in the value you see in yourself. It can be quite easy to forget that PR is a real skill, and that you have something really important to offer. Not on the granular level of: can you write a press release or a blog post; can you whip up a tweet or get people to an event. That stuff is important, but they are basics. As PRs, we understand people, and their businesses. We know how to talk to them, how they will react to something, how to make them care. Combine this with the relationships these skills helps us build, the knowledge you gain of specific markets over years of working in an industry, and you have a pretty indispensable weapon in your armoury.
What I believe makes FieldHouse different is that it doesn’t compromise this value for the sake of making money. The whole team has a real sense of what they can offer a client. FieldHouse Associates are trusted consultants. They don’t do pointless things because the client tells them to, or to populate a report with worthless hits that make no difference to the company whatsoever. They don’t waste time on things clients don’t want. Instead, they choose to plough extra time into real value-add things like making introductions, offering advice on business strategy and investing in building a knowledgeable team for the future. Not only does that foster better client partnerships and service, it makes for a much better, happier and more relaxed team.
This is something that was apparent to me through the interview process, but even more so when I joined the team this week. I felt immediately at ease as soon as I walked into the office. As the week progressed, I noticed I was doing actual PR work, rather than dealing with budget control, capacity planning and spreadsheets galore. This is a very welcome change to the agency environment I’ve become used to in recent years. It’s also possibly what led Cordelia to announce to the entire team that I must be the most settled member of staff after one week, EVER!
By Charlie Hamilton