Poacher turned gamekeeper: when you have experienced both tribes, who is the jungle VIP?

Poacher turned gamekeeper: when you have experienced both tribes, who is the jungle VIP?

Simon Bibby

Simon Bibby

Firefly Senior Account Manager, Simon Bibby on why to be king of the swingers you need to walk and talk on both sides of public relations.

When conversations with industry folk turns to how my career in PR has taken me to my new role at Firefly, I know my in-house background is a good conversation starter. A common question is which discipline I prefer. Having given it some serious thought (then deciding I needed to use Jungle Book metaphors to explain it), it's an unanswerable question that ask.com could have featured in one of my favourite 2010 tactical press releases.

It’s possible to argue a case for both; however the best answer is to do both. It’s the only way to guarantee a leopard changes its spots and in doing so, ensure a PRO understands the pressures and needs of both prowls.

The established norm with agency folk is that you learn your living in agencies first, and then earn your living in-house.  Having chosen a different path already in my career, I can see obvious pit falls in their concept that you rise in an agency and then step into “semi-retirement” in your in-house home.

Now I’m back agency side (I first worked in an agency after studying PR at Uni – the merits of which is a debate for another blog), here's what I appreciate and respect about in-house heroes:

  • They know an industry and its media inside out
  • They work with executive stakeholders across different disciplines
  • They understand how to build relationships with non-paymasters
  • They don’t just talk it – they do understand the bigger picture
  • Working as a function that doesn’t directly generate revenue, they have to constantly justify their existence and importance in the company food chain

Now I'm working for a successful and driven EMEA PR agency, here's what I understand about agency action junkies:

  • We have to be meticulous, analytical and know the value of time resources and a plan of action
  • The risk and rewards are greater. You can progress faster, but if you can’t deliver you will be found out
  • We are constantly striving for balance; balance between content generation and execution and the desire to produce your best against the time constraints
  • A valued in-house colleague can open up internal contacts and content for the agency to craft media opportunities, allowing them to fulfill their role as expert media consultants
  • There are constant commercial pressures

These values are interchangeable, but unless you have played out both scenarios, it can be difficult to see that both sides are more alike than most people think. In the end it comes down to how you contribute to business growth, which at a granular level is determined by the human condition.

This is something Mowgli gets by the end of The Jungle Book and should be a bear necessity for fulfilling your PR potential.


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