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From kindly approve to approved,  lessons on moving from agency to client side

17th April 2018


Back in October, when I made the decision to move to the big bad world of ‘Corporate’, the task seemed daunting to say the least. And the several perspectives on the challenges that it might bring to the table did not help. At all. As expected, moving from an ‘agency’ to the ‘client side’ has been a big bundle of revelations and realisations. The mindset has changed and so has the lens through which I used to see communications. Here's a round up of all the realisations that have been arrived at so far, of several more to be discovered in times to come.

1, You are married to one brand
There is a running joke amongst PR professionals - while you are at an agency, you get to flirt with so many brands and never have to worry about marrying them. And that might have some merit. Like all marriages, this one too requires its own bit of effort and dedication. Your perception quickly changes from ‘working for a brand’ to ‘representing the brand’. You become the face of every message that is put out and you are not merely a team member ‘disseminating’ it, you own it. That is a big change. That is the ring on your finger called, “my precious!”

2. Communications still has to fight its battle
While we have tons and tons of case studies worldwide insisting on the results that communications as a function is able to achieve, it still remains one of the most widely misunderstood roles in a company. Since it is not conventionally perceived as a moolah making function like sales/marketing, the time and effort set aside for communications remains debatable. So while we fight against perceptions outside, there are some which are to be constantly managed inside as well. Persistently sensitising the leadership towards the impact pays off, albeit rather slowly.

3. The third eye opens
Having worked at an agency for so long, you almost gain a super power of seeing through the faff that is presented to you on a day to day basis. Half of the updates stop making sense to you, you know from where a presentation must have been ripped off and you sort of know when nothing is going to come out of that long brainstorming session! It is like never eating food from your own restaurant because you know exactly how it is prepared!

4. You are an angel and the devil himself-all in a day
More often than we think, we crib about our clients on a day to day basis when we are working at an agency. Well, I would assume that venting out about the people we work for or under is universal and field agnostic. But what is amazingly tough is to get used to being on the other side. Especially in a closely knit community like ours, it is almost impossible to not know what goes on around us. It takes a lot of time to adjust to the realisation that this is bound to happen, tune that out effectively, stay objective and still have a smile on your face.

5. You thought you knew stakeholder management inside out eh?
Being in PR, we are trained in people management. Managing your peers, seniors, clients, media, etc. Basically, everybody who is, in one way or the other, in the same line of business with similar sensibilities. What trumps you when you move to a corporate is the number of people who can have a say in your work. From sales, marketing, operations to customers- each role has not only a say but a strong impact. Managing different mindsets, levels of understanding and intentions is a daunting task.

To say the least, it has been exciting. It is a roller coaster that might scare you while you are looking at it from a distance, that might make you slightly uncomfortable while you are on it but is bound to give you a mad rush of achievement once you get off it and want to go again. Try it, at least once in your career, it is totally worth it. It might be a little dramatic at first, but come on, if we didn’t like drama, we wouldn’t be in PR!

Kshitiz Ahuja heads external and internal communications at Foodpanda. Prior to this, he has worked at 20:20 MSL and Edelman for a wide variety of brands such as Netflix, Tata Communications, Dell EMC among others. When not working, the cinephile can be found deconstructing cinema at #EntertainedForLife.


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