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Why orientation is everything in health PR

In the startup phase of Palin Communications we had a new consultant that lasted just one day.

I hadn't yet been down to JB Hi-Fi to buy his laptop and there was nowhere for him to hang his coat.

Every time he rolled his chair backwards, he ran over the tail of his jacket because it was draped across his back rest.

I took him to a client meeting on the first afternoon (I know, I know) and he pulled out a four-page strategy document from his briefcase (that I'd never seen) and offered to present it.

I managed to close him down with a quickly mumbled thanks for his proactivity and attempted to get things back on track.

The next morning he called and said the agency probably wasn't the right fit for him.

He'd worked out quickly that a business with a "one-man band" mentality (like Palin Communications in Year 1) was unlikely to be a place where he would end up doing his very best work.

25 years later and I'm very happy to report that things have changed. And just as well.

Because if you run a values-based business, you need to give people time to absorb those values and see what they mean in the context of a living, buzzing agency.

This is especially true as we find people outside traditional PR backgrounds transitioning into agencies and working their way up relatively steep learning curves.

Kerry Jung, a Senior Account Executive on our team, came from a graphic design and radio production background. She was quite new to earned media processes, so her orientation was a crucial first step in helping her thrive in the way she has at Palin Communications.

Kerry is producing amazing health-focused PR work now.

[Kerry Jung (on the right). Senior Account Executive at Palin Communications, picking up awards with other members of the team.]

It was certainly more straight forward in years gone by when PR consultants could focus almost exclusively on earned media. But with agencies now expected to co-ordinate a vibrant mix of social media, content marketing and influencer opportunities, orientation and training is more important than ever before.

Which is why the team here develop bespoke orientation programs for every new starter, regardless of whether they're coming on board as an intern or an Associate Director.

The intern co-ordinator of a major international university recently commented that a Palin orientation plan for one of his interns with us was "the best I have ever seen, and ...It will ensure a smooth internship experience for sure."

Our orientation plans try to ensure a smooth integration of a new person into our team and our ways of working. Starting from the basics like the history of our agency, our team structure, key materials and links that cover things like hybrid working policies and more so people get a feel for the “Palin way” even before they start. Then we take them through a tailored and detailed checklist that outlines key orientation sessions, their project portfolio and an ‘orientation buddy’ to help them through the process

We want everyone to be leaders at Palin Communications. But you can only do that if you've had the right orientation.

It results in new people feeling more comfortable about being part of the team, a stronger sense of mastery, better outcomes for clients and a team more aligned with the agency's values.

And experience suggests it increases the chances of new hires lasting a bit longer than 24 hours.


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