I’m always asked about the difference between agency life and corporate life. Though my career has dwelled entirely in the former, it seems to me that agency people tend to know a lot about many subjects, whereas those toiling in-house immerse themselves deeper into their employers’ products, services and cultures.
In fact, it’s not unusual for clients to complain that their agency reps don’t take the time to learn the client’s business. One current client of mine repeatedly implored its west coast PR reps to spend time on his web site, which the client had the ability to track. The reps didn’t, and soon were given the heave-ho.
Another big difference between corporate PR and agency PR — from a media relations perspective — has to do with pro-active versus reactive. Many noteworthy enterprises have enough to do just to satisfy the media’s incessant requests for company info and access, whereas agencies often are tasked to pro-actively make things happen editorially. One would think that reacting is much easier than pro-acting. Right? Not necessarily.
Last night, I stopped by The New York Times headquarters where the New York chapter of the IABC named NYTCO’s VP of corporate communications Catherine Mathis as its “Communicator of the Year.” During the reception Arthur Sulzberger and Janet Robinson, NYTCO’s chairman and president/CEO, respectively, praised Catherine for her poise, professionalism, work ethic, and “respect for all journalists.” That’s the least of it when one considers Jayson, Judy, the NSA, secret prisons in Europe, etc.
Those are just a few of the minefields The Times — and specifically, Catherine and her communications team — deftly navigated over the last several years. So don’t let anyone ever tell you that reacting to media queries is any easier (or any less stressful) than pro-acting media coverage (which her team also does). This was a well-deserved honor for a true pro.
Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention some news about this blog. At a luncheon ceremony today at New York’s Grand Hyatt, PR News recognized this blogger (and his irreverant musings) with a 2006 PR News Platinum Award as the year’s “Best Blog.” How cool is that?