When I first heard about our Discovery + Development program, I knew instantly that I wanted to apply. It’s one of those offerings that makes you proud to work for a large global organization. I’m such a fan of experiencing new people, places and cultures and after working in PN’s London office for two years, New York was at the top of my list for several reasons. Aside from the obvious like amazing restaurants and endless things to do, the fact that PN New York houses the practice areas I wanted to get more experience in: corporate communications, creative services and new business – made it the right fit. After eight years with Voce/Porter Novelli, it was a thrill to see our global headquarters, learn from colleagues with different perspectives and expertise, and meet the faces we so often see on our quarterly all-hands.
My first day of the month-long immersion was like being the new kid at school again. After my breezy commute on the subway (a treat when you come from San Francisco!), and a quick stop by the window to “ooh and awe” at the stunning views at 7 World Trade, I was whisked away to my first “Breakfast Club” meeting where we go over hot activities for the week including new business updates, media pitching and shout outs to teammates going above and beyond. After that, it was down to business. The first few weeks were a daze filled with lunch meetings, crash courses in creative services, corporate communications and new business and of course, Thirsty Thursdays (a weekly themed happy hour in the office organized by various teams in the office). In between meetings, I also made friends with all of my pod-mates and got the scoop on the best restaurants, weekend outings and lunch delivery services. The best thing about my introduction to the New York office was knowing that the PN culture and friendly, quirky vibe is alive and well across the network.
Getting to the Bottom of Creative
Creative was one of the main things I wanted to understand, internalize and bring back to my clients and the San Francisco office (and all offices, for that matter). I’d collaborated with the creative team on past client projects, but I was so curious to learn how we can work with them even more. As we move toward a more integrated, global agency model, it’s so important to not only know what our offerings are but to be able to engage them at the right time, on the right projects. That’s where my conversation started with North American Creative Director, Ted Sabarese. The creative team’s job is to think about things that resonate well with the target audience – from activations to social campaigns to content – but they need us (the account teams) to serve as advisors, since we’re the experts on our client’s needs and their industries. One key takeaway is that getting strategic planning and creative involved early on in the process, whether it’s a new business pitch or a yearly planning cycle with an existing client, makes all the difference. Another difference in the way I think about creative is that integration now means that we should be thinking about having someone from creative on our teams full-time. This means better, smarter ideas and outside-in thinking being brought to the table on a regular basis vs. just once in a while (#valueadd). I know we’ll be hearing a lot more about integrating with creative this year!
Connecting with Corporate Communications
Since corporate communications is where I spend most of my time on my clients day-to-day, it was really important for me to get to know the broader corporate communications team to share best practices and understand where we can work together more closely. In my first week alone, I started working with the Johnson & Johnson team, who actually does a ton of corporate work – much of it is similar to the corporate/workplace program I lead on Workday. It was fun to connect the dots and share notes with Kristin Sadlon and Kate Northway on how to counsel clients during a negative news cycle, which Wall Street Journal reporters to pitch and how to manage a corporate program for a major healthcare brand. Based on that experience, I’m now working directly with the Johnson & Johnson team, helping to raise their executives’ profiles in Silicon Valley and bridge the gap between healthcare and technology. To me, that’s the future of integration at PN – bringing together teams based on experience and expertise. Another benefit of meeting the team was being able to tap into PN’s experience with IPOs, working with Greg Jawski to navigate the tricky world of financial regulations. Making those connections gives me even more confidence in our ability to bring in the right resources at the right time to give our clients the best counsel. And now that our Head of Corporate, Sean Smith is in the San Francisco office, there will be even more opportunities to do that!
Brushing Up on New Biz
Another area of personal interest was gaining more experience with corporate new business process. Voce has our own “special sauce” when it comes to new business pitches, and now that we’re fully integrated with PN, there are awesome learnings on both sides that we can use to make it a more seamless process and increase our chances of winning. After a great kickoff meeting with Kate Cusick, which gave me a better perspective on the global new business process and what this year holds for PN in terms of the pipeline and external marketing, I was excited to meet with Martha Ginsberg to walk through new business activation. The key takeaways for me are the importance of acting fast when making decisions about whether or not to pursue a piece of new business, the benefits of engaging with shared resources like SPAR early on, and the upside of using a central hub for all shared resources like the Intranet to house pitch materials. Luckily for me, I was able to put all of this intel into action during my time there by working with the team on a new business prospect. There are so many more tips I can now bring back to the San Francisco office and apply to the next pitch I’m on – bring it on!
Above all, the most important aspect of the program is the connections I was able to make in PN New York. Integration is all about connecting the dots between individual strengths, our service offerings and client needs. With this experience under my belt, I know I’ll be able to help our teams and clients do just that and get to that next level of success.
Big thank you to Erin Osher, Karen Swiatek, Mindy Gikas and the rest of the PN New York team for such a memorable experience! Can’t wait to host the next D&D’er in San Francisco…promise we’ll show you a good time!