When Sarah Wolf first left her job to go freelance, she feared she would lose the support and camaraderie of office life. But how wrong she was. Here, she explains how joining The Difference Collective has given her a “dream team” of colleagues with the ability to work flexibly.
Being a freelance public relations consultant has huge benefits. Take, for example, the ability to work with multiple clients on a mixture of fascinating projects. Or the variety of work that comes your way. Or even the chance to work on brands you might never normally have the opportunity to support because their head office is far away from your base.
But one thing that can happen being a freelance consultant is that you miss the camaraderie and teamwork that comes with working in-house or in an agency.
My freelance career began about six months ago. I made the leap from being an established, respected Head of Communications at a national charity to sitting at my dining room table looking at an empty Outlook Inbox.
It was a risk. I left behind a high-performing team, a leadership role and the infrastructure and resources that came with that shiny business card. I also left behind frustrating aspects of bureaucracy, including some agonisingly slow decision-making processes and the innate “busyness” that comes with managing six people’s workload, lives and demands.
But I also left behind that bond, that crowd, those friendships. And as I sat at my dining room table at the end of last year I began to realise that although I had made the right choice, I’d also moved a long way from where my head and heart loved to be – surrounded by people who care as much as you do about the work you’re doing. I missed working frenetically alongside other clever, switched-on, strategic thinkers with a fire in their bellies and a spark in their eyes.
But then I found The Difference Collective
I’ve always had a huge respect for a certain “type” of colleague I’ve worked with during my 20-year career. You know the type. Organised, efficient, unflappable. Utterly brilliant in a crisis. Completely unstoppable when they’re achieving results. I’ve tried to emulate them and I like to think that I’ve often succeeded. But more than that, I’ve learned from them what kind of people I love working with. And it’s these kinds of people who I’ve found within The Difference Collective.
I’m three projects in now. There have been three different types of clients and three challenging briefs. Being back at the sharp end of healthcare communications, with demanding objectives and occasionally painfully short deadlines. has been a baptism of fire and a homecoming all at the same time.
Throughout, though, I’ve never been on my own because I had The Collective with me, behind me and alongside me. I’ve called out in the middle of a Sunday for help and someone has been there – hundreds of geographic miles away but just a text away when I needed her support. I’ve gritted my teeth and wondered how to do something and a member of The Collective has been there to help straighten my thinking and sharpen my focus. I’ve already smiled, grimaced and celebrated in just the few short months I’ve been part of the team. And it feels amazing.
I’m working on my own projects too. But more and more when the call comes in from a potential new business prospect, my thoughts turn to whether this might be something for The Difference Collective because we’re so much stronger, quicker, cleverer together than I could ever imagine being on my own. It’s like having the best team around you at all times. And that’s pretty special both for me as the person delivering the client’s objectives and for the client themselves.
As a recruiter of people over the years, I always looked for passion above skillset, desire above diplomas. You want to know that the person sitting in front of you will get the job done, overcome obstacles and think laterally at all times.
When you hire someone from The Collective you get that kind of person. Someone who will not only do the job well, but who feels it personally when there are challenges to overcome. As we’re all freelance consultants, we all share the desire to see the job done well because it matters – it matters for our professional reputation, for The Collective’s reputation and for the client’s reputation. We’re making a Difference – and you won’t find a group of people more genuinely dedicated to achieving client objectives than us.
I’m so proud to be part of this gang. And my Outlook Inbox is certainly full now. With lots of great projects, funny anecdotes, interesting media articles and most importantly – thanks and support from my team.
About the Author
Sarah has worked in communications for 20 years. Her background is in pharmaceutical communications, being part of award-winning teams delivering results and impact in the UK and internationally. She has worked with large corporations and smaller, innovative start-ups, plus has many years of experience working in-house as well as in PR agencies. Sarah’s specialisms include consumer health campaigns, employee and change communication, and marketing communications across both professional and consumer businesses.