(With apologies to the Beatles and their respective spouses/estates for the reference to the maudlin “Sgt. Peppers” track).
Well, everyone, it’s been a great seven months working from home as a sole practitioner, but in a matter of days, my stint as a consultant is over. On Monday, December 5, I will be joining InkHouse as a senior vice president, leading the east coast office’s enterprise technology practice and marking my return to tech PR agency life with an impressive roster of colleagues and clients alike.
Interestingly, I’ll be joining InkHouse essentially twenty years after I started my career in tech PR — all spent in agencies, except for these last seven months as a sole practitioner.
Seasoned Veteran Lends Two Decades ofzzzzzzz …
I’m trying to share my excitement about InkHouse without sounding like a bad personnel press release quote (oh, by the way, look for that the week of the 12th) — without using the words “thrilled,” “excited,” and, dear God, “seasoned veteran” (or whatever phrase one uses to make the new hire sound “experienced,” rather than “old” or “grizzled”).
It is a delicate balance: to the PR practitioner, writing a press release for a senior hire without resorting to cliche is akin to the task of describing 44-year old Jamie Moyer making a start for the Phillies was for the sports journalist without using the words “old,” “slow” or (*shudder*) “crafty.”
And one note: I’ve “banged out” MANY of these releases throughout the years … and while the author’s belief may be that the new hire’s quote doesn’t really matter much, trust me, as the subject, it matters WAY more than you think. In fact, to uphold my end of the deal, I will read my press release quote aloud in front of a mirror at some point, so I DID say the words attributed to me.
So back to avoiding the forbidden press release words: having met (and actually worked) with some of the team, I am certainly impressed by the creativity, enthusiasm, candor and kindness of everyone I’ve met and positively giddy about the opportunity.
I couldn’t have done with without the support of my family and friends; additionally, many smart marketing, public relations and consulting professionals generously shared their time and expertise. And of course, thank you to the clients who took a chance on this “seasoned veteran” starting out on his own. If it “takes a village” to raise a child, it takes a sizable task force to
In closing, here are the seven takeaways (for the following reasons: 7=lucky; 7=1 per month; and I couldn’t think of 8) from my brief time in the world of consultant/sole practitioner:
- If you have been doing PR for awhile and the opportunity presents itself, agency folk should try a stint as a sole-practitioner. It’s a great way to remember why you liked public relations in the first place, and how much work many so-called “junior people” at firms do every day. For example, I did more media relations and article ghostwriting than I had in the past few years, and had forgotten I really enjoy it.
- When you’re a single-person shop, it truly forces you to focus ONLY on what really moves the needle. Anything extra creates more work (for you) and if it doesn’t deliver results, it’s really not worth doing. In short, this is a great reminder as I return to agency life — there’s always “stuff” you can do, but if it doesn’t lead to a larger goal, don’t do it.
- I stated this earlier, but it IS possible to truly embrace the life of “squatting,” (that is, finding places to work when you have an hour or so between in-person meetings) primarily because working out of coffee shops and hotel lobbies enables you to actually see other people (and enjoy coffee and WiFi). It can also make you feel really, really alone.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help from others who have done it. There were some days when I felt positively overwhelmed, with a swirl of thoughts going like this: “How much business is too much? Oh God, I have too much. Oh God, I don’t have enough. Why did I promise that? I should have promised more, right? Should I rent an office or a shared space? Why won’t my kids help me proofread things? How did I possibly transpose the phone number digits on my business cards? Do these khakis make me look fat?” And usually, meeting up for coffee with one of the surprising number of single-practitioners in Boston would qualm my fears, or at the very least confirm that I’m just nuts, and everything’s going to be fine.
- When spending $5 on a company logo, you will get a nice logo. You will not get something resembling the Hartford Whalers logo with its genius use of negative space, no matter how hard you try.
- As I mentioned before, take every meeting you can–and be sure to pay it forward. At first blush, it may not hold much promise, but you’ll get something out of EVERY meeting. If not, you’re not working hard enough.
- The perils of working from home include 1) access to snacks that is much, much too easy; 2) a decline in your daily step count from 10,000 to maybe 400 (the FitBit was put away in July after I declared it was done “shaming me”); 3) occasional bouts of loneliness that will make you have conversations with your mailman (Sal) that last too long and make everyone uncomfortable. I am looking forward to being part of a team and will cop to whistling the Tegan and Sara/Lonely Island song “Everything is Awesome” from The Lego Movie, particularly the line “everything is cool when you’re part of a team,” completely discounting the song’s dark undertones and taking the lyrics at face value. (Another peril of working from home: overthinking song lyrics from blockbuster family movies.)
Be sure to drop me a line at ed at inkhouse (dot) com starting Monday, 12/5. Thanks for reading and here’s to the adventure ahead. And if anyone would like 250 or so gently-used business cards, please let me know.