One of the biggest challenges faced by any independent consultant is the perception that we are in some way less committed, professional and reliable than our employed counterparts. As someone who puts her heart and soul into every task assigned to her, this erroneous perception cuts deep. And I am not alone.
Some of the most talented people I have ever had the good fortune to work with have made the decision to work on a consultancy basis for a whole host of different reasons. In no way has it diminished their passion, commitment or work ethic; quite the opposite in fact. Choosing to take on a project engenders a very different mind-set to being made to take one on. Select the right consultant and you have both head and heart invested in your business – a powerful combination.
And yet, until now, for many clients there has been an element of risk in taking on an unknown entity. That’s why I believe the Difference Collective is a game-changer within the industry. We operate as a ‘talent kite-mark,’ which acts as a stamp of assurance for clients. We are the first Collective to wrap our arms around the myriad of talent that is being driven out of the healthcare communications industry through outdated working practices no longer fit for purpose.
Let’s be clear, these aren’t consultants looking for an easy ride; these are dedicated, talented, ambitious professionals actively seeking interesting and fulfilling projects where they can make a Difference. Now consultants can do just that, as part of something bigger, freed from the isolation of working in silos. This cross-fertilisation, achievable through a meeting of hand-picked, experienced minds leads to a more focused, strategic, cost-effective and agile client service model.
There are four fundamental attributes which every consultant must possess to be accepted into the Collective:
The best of the best
We invest significant time and resource interviewing and vetting each and every consultant, all of whom have standout track records and a desire to play a pivotal role in the next evolutionary chapter in healthcare communications. Just because people want more control over the way they work does NOT mean they want less responsibility and accountability. They are empowered individuals looking for challenging and rewarding work, which channels their skill-set and experience to maximum effect.
The reputation of every consultant and, therefore their ability to work as part of the Collective, depends on an unwavering commitment to unequivocal excellence. Each must demonstrate a deep-rooted desire to produce outstanding work and exceed client expectations. There are no smoke and mirrors here; we live and die by our reputation. Some work full-time, others part-time but we will only ever assign consultants whose working hours are compatible with your business needs. Likewise, we can work virtually (communicating via phone, email or video-conference as any traditional agency would do) – or in person, depending on whether remote or in-house working is required.
It might sound obvious given the very nature of the Collective but this desire to work with others extends to our clients too. You decide the extent you want to ‘bring them into the fold’ but our consultants are keen to work in partnership with clients and the more you invest in them, the more likely they are to become your trusted ‘go to’.
Let’s not forget that someone working to their strengths at a time and location of their choosing is going to be far more engaged, enthusiastic and productive, giving you way more bang for your buck.
While it may seem radical to strip away the physical structures and onerous processes intrinsically linked to agency life, what it actually does is free talent and clients to connect and engage with one another at a much more meaningful and senior level. Bricks and mortar don’t bind people together but rather shared knowledge, passions, beliefs and values. Moreover, our ability to work outside the traditional 9am-6pm agency hours means that we are more accessible than our agency counterparts, better able to respond to any out-of-hours crises and only billing for actual hours worked.
In short, our adaptive and cohesive approach means we can identify your very own purpose-built ‘dream team’ who can work together seamlessly and flex according to your needs. The one thing that definitely doesn’t flex, however, is our commitment to excellence.
About the Author
Lisa, Core Collective Champion and Consultant, is a healthcare communications freelancer with over 15 years of experience. She worked at two highly respected PR agencies for over nine years before taking the plunge to work for herself. She wanted to work as a freelancer so that she could #WorkDifferently on projects she is passionate about.