Reflecting on Five Years of Blogging & Working: The Emerald Isle [PART 3]
Living and working in Dublin has been a whole lot of fun, but the recession hit the Emerald Isle a lot harder than London — I went from the buzzing London PR scene to the retrenching and spluttering Dublin one. It was a big shock, but I was delighted to simply be there and grateful to have a job. And I always will be.
To recap quickly, the Edelman team kindly allowed me to move to its Ireland office. I had a unique arrangement in that I would work remotely from Dublin for the London team four days a week, and the remaining day I would work with my new Irish colleagues. This arrangement suited me perfectly.
With the economy in dire straights, this soon filtered down to our clients and of course impacted us. Agency-land in Ireland was struggling. Client meeting after client meeting, we were asked to do considerably more with less, and often budget earmarked for consumer PR work was being cannibalised by my emerging digital team. We even re-pitched for, and thankfully won some ‘winner-takes-all’ pitches that would have had a disastrous effect on the Irish office if we had lost.
This was definitely a challenging time, but adversity teaches you a lot and makes you pause, consider what your priorities are and ultimately, what delivers the most value. It was an invaluable experience and will stand me in good stead.
However, this was not a good time to be looking to further your career. Consolidation, rather than growth was the order of the day, and few new jobs were being created. Instead vacancies arose as people left their job (often leaving the country). Many people were simply happy to be employed, and rather than take a risk and join another company, they would stay where they were. As someone who was ambitious and wanting to progress, this was difficult.
From a digital perspective in Edelman’s Dublin office, we had senior staff come and go, which was both unsettling and frustrating at times. The leadership invested in digital as much as they could, but without a big, transformational client win, it was always going to be difficult — especially when coming up against full service agencies with dozens of staff. It’s a challenge they still haven’t overcome, but the office does well servicing a mix of global clients and leading Irish companies. And in truth there were few big, transformational pitches to be won at this time.
Although the Edelman Ireland management have now departed their roles, they deserve credit for helping the office navigate what was the most difficult time in its history. Against the backdrop of a vicious recession the business posted a profit for the two financial years I was there.
It’s also important to point out that during this period I also had my first experience of failure on an account. It was more do with client chemistry than results, but unfortunately my relationship with a UK based client soured over time. The client in question seemed more concerned about flirting with my female colleagues than getting good work done. Suffice to say that he too experienced failure — and the client in question didn’t make it pass his probation period.
I’ve thought about this episode long and hard since, and there’s definitely things I could and should have done better. I learnt a lot from it. I expect the client might think the same. On the same account I also witnessed the down side of two departments working for one company — while you’d expect them to be closely aligned or at least support each other for the good of the agency and the client, often it actually felt like competing against each other, not working together.
But with fees shrinking in Ireland and being managed remotely from London, my chances for advancement in this environment seemed limited, so I looked around for my next opportunity. I had some very interesting discussions, but I wanted my next move to be right. I wanted to head up a team, join a fast-growing company and be more accountable for delivering leads. And Chill Insurance fitted the bill.
So off I went to the world of insurance…
Visit Social Web Thing tomorrow to hear about my time at Chill Insurance, Ireland’s fastest growing insurance broker.