So I Made a Mistake: The Art of Eating Crow & Connecting with Your Personal PR Network

Businesswoman throwing papers in the airI hate that one of my first official blog posts on this site has to do with the fact that I am admitting defeat. Less than a month ago I wrote on the proper way to bid farewell a job, boss, and fellow colleagues before making my way to a new position, in a new firm where I wanted nothing more than to be the success I previously was.

There is a great statement: life doesn’t always turn out the way you plan. Less than a month after making my move to my new agency I decided the culture and environment was not for me, and I made the decision to call it quits. That’s right, call it quits–with no job, no future opportunities and a nice hefty mortgage to pay.

Remember that post way back on January 14 where I said don’t burn your bridges? Luckily, for once in my life I listened to myself and kept an open contact with former bosses, colleagues, and friends in the industry. The morning after I quit I reached out to each of them, discussing my current decision and seeing if they knew of any opportunities in the industry. It was my own little HAPPO (which I plan on participating in!) and my network of contacts was more than happy to connect with me and help me out.

One of the first people I reached out to was my former boss at my most recent place of employment, STC Associates. I wrote a concise email to Sophie telling her the situation, explaining that I was making the decision that was best for my career and my mental health. I also admitted my fault in the situation, which before last week I would have NEVER done. Was it a pride thing? Probably. I don’t like to admit when I am wrong but I was about to quickly learn that eating a crow actually gains respect from the place/person you wronged. So that is exactly what I did–sucked it up and choked down some bird.

The result? My former boss was willing to open her door back up to me and offer me a freelance position at STC Associates. You can imagine I felt all of two inches tall–here I had gone and left the place that had practically raised me in this business and now, after I had jumped ship rather quickly, STC and Sophie were more than willing to take me back. Was I actually THIS lucky?! Not only did I keep a bridge intact, but I pushed my bruised ego to the backburner which allowed me to realize that there ARE people out there who truly want to see me succeed in my career.

In addition to STC, MANY of my AMAZING former colleagues in the public relations industry have been reaching out to me, connecting me with recruiters and friends who are looking to hire or even offer me an opportunity to freelance with them. It wasn’t until I was in desperate need did I understand the full strength of my personal “network” and the importance of keeping your bridges intact in this industry. (Woohoo–for once I practiced what I preached!)

Thanks to the amazing phenomenon knows as social media, my network is continuing to grow. PR pros in this industry are constantly posting new job opportunities on Twitter, offering advice on LinkedIn, and most recently an awesome group of social media geniuses developed Help A PR Pro Out, a program that is designed to connect PR job seekers with employers looking for top talent.  I certainly will be participating on February 19 and hope all those in my position would consider doing the same!

Now, I am not trying to be a preacher–I am just saying that at any age, at any point in your career, you can “go home again” if you are willing to show some vulnerability. Being vulnerable might not be for everyone in this business but showing that I am not super-human has helped me get back on track. And in truth, crow is really not as gamey as I thought it would be.

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  • mikeschaffer

    Absolutely no shame in this at all! (Maybe I sympathize, because I did the exact same thing several years ago).

    I left my company after 3 years to pursue a career in the radio industry. Four months later, I was knocking on the front door, rejoined the agency and definitely had some new dues to pay.

    The embarrassment will pass and your one-month hiatus will be nothing but a blip on the screen, if you stay there long-term!

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  • What a perfect example of how it isn't necessarily WHAT you do, but how you handle yourself in the process. I think this attitude can play out in many instances. When we make a mistake, wrong a client, under-deliver on a promise — the wronged party will barely remember it if handled properly. Admit you were wrong and then prove your worth immediately by making it right again. Simple as that!

    Obviously your previous work speaks for itself. In the long run I think you will be happy that you listened to your heart and didn't stay in a position or work environment that was a poor fit. Eventually that unhappiness would have soured every aspect of your life, personally and professionally. — Tara

  • I don't think you have anything to be ashamed of- we all make mistakes, and you took the right steps to rectify the situation. I think you were brave to listen to your heart and do what felt right. If anything, you're setting an example that young PR pro's like myself can look towards as we try to make our mark in the PR world. I wish you the best of luck for the future!

  • jeffespo

    Kristen, this is a great example of putting a theory into action. Everyone always says don't burn your bridges, but most times ignores their own advice. Glad this worked out for you.

  • Kristen

    Thanks! Fingers crossed it works out and I find myself a full time position – soon!

  • Kristen

    Sheema – thanks so much for your comment! I appreciate the feedback and the support!

  • Kristen

    Tara – I agree it was best to rectify the situation by leaving an environment that was a bad fit for me because I did not want to sour my amazing PR experience thus far in my career. Even in the short time I was there I saw myself beginning to resent PR and I was questioning my presence in this industry, thinking maybe I am not cut out for this? Which is insane seeing as how I've been doing THIS for almost seven years!

    I am proud of myself for saying “this is not a good fit” and putting all my efforts into finding something that will work hopefully in the very near future!

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  • Beth

    Nice column, but you need to proofread a little better. I found six obvious mistakes and a couple of others that are debatable. “PR Pros” can't make these kinds of mistakes.

  • PR Cog

    Beth –

    Thanks for your comment. As Ed. & Pub. all posts go through me and
    that's where final responsibility falls for these issues. It's
    entirely possible I put them in myself while doing edits. I've got my
    crack on the job to fix the errors.

    That being said – and I'm a big fan of calling people out on their
    (what are IMHO) errors in judgment – a comment that mainly serves to
    insult non-substantive issues has little place here.

    Had the post been about proper writing the irony alone would have been

    Around here the sentiment is honest yet supportive, direct yet
    constructive and no holds barred yet polite.

    The entire PRBC family is active on Twitter – this could have been
    more appropriately handled in a dm or email so as not to distract from
    the substance of the post.

    Disclaimer: These opinions are my own personally, not the official
    stance of PRBC or any of the other writers.

  • To add to what Cog wrote – you wasted your time. Next time you have something constructive to share, please feel free to give your name. We're a family here.

  • Karen

    So why didn't Sophie @ STC Associates just give you your full time job back? You weren't gone long, and it sounds like you were still in her good graces?

    • Sophie

      STC did hire Kristen back…

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  • Sophie

    This is a one-year anniversary commentary! Well, Kristen did return to STC. STC did offer Kristen her position back and continued to support her training in social media.

    STC trusted her with, not only its own social media presence, but within weeks of securing a major account, also gave her the responsibility to build that client’s social presence as one of the many tracks to reposition their brand post a disastrous recall. In parallel to the crisis management, digital, and positioning efforts undertaken, Kristen dedicated herself to the task and built a strong following for the client, one promotion at a time.

    At her request, STC also hired a new social media specialist to assist her, along with eight other colleagues that worked on the account across services and across markets. STC provided her with all the autonomy necessary to manage the work and feel ownership in the relationship. In December 2010, the client underwent major internal changes and suspended services until their new marketing leadership got reset. Regardless, STC guaranteed that Kristen’s and her colleagues’ employments were safe.

    Upon return from our annual holidays, Kristen resigned…again. This time, she wanted to discover what may be a new path forward and she looked forward to building a brand new life in Boston. STC offered to assist her in any way possible in her new search…

    Within two weeks, Kristen was the new social media director of STC’s former client.

    It’s not so much that Kristen violated basic non-compete, non-solicitation and confidentiality standards that any employment calls for, she also walked out on the team member she hired, she disparaged the firm on Facebook (an intelligent move for a social media specialist…), and, in a heartbeat, “un-friended” the very peers that shaped her career for the past 6 years. Truth is it takes two to hire away from an agency. One day, when things get tough, the client will realize that one, who took credit for the work of many, has also mislead them.

    It is easy to blog away about principles, but professionalism, such as life, can run on a simple saying: “JUST DO RIGHT!” May be one day, Kristen will stop talking – blogging, twitting, texting – and, start DOING…right.