Eastwick is the latest PR agency to adopt the ‘executive in residence’ model from the venture capital world. In marketing circles, the concept has become a temporary — often informal — role that someone takes between permanent gigs that, ideally, reaps rewards for both the hosting organization and its portfolio clients.

The Pramana Collective adopted this concept in 2014, bringing on Mike Mayzel for a five-month stint as its first executive-in-residence. (He has since moved on to heading communications at Pinterest). Meanwhile, M Booth took a quirky twist on the concept with its ‘innovator in residence’ program that offers a shared workspace with creatives from outside the PR industry (for instance, puppeteers and filmmakers). 

Eastwick’s take is squarely focused on CMOs — a highly sought after group among PR firms.  For more than a decade, PR agencies have positioned themselves to gain a foothold with marketing and, ultimately, untie themselves from the limits of being “just PR.” The inaugural CMO is Chris Hummel who was Eastwick’s client in his former roles at both Schneider Electric and Unify. 

“She reached out to me as I was taking time off to reflect,” Hummel says. “I wanted to keep my fingers in the game. I’ve been through a lot of corporate transformations — with both high-growth companies and ones on the verge of collapse.”

Hummel doesn’t work on a retainer for Eastwick. But if a client happens to need an interim — or permanent — CMO, Hummel would consider the opportunity, refer someone within his network or could take on an advisory post. Having an executive in residence fits in this age of the sharing economy and “pay per use” cloud computing, says Hummel.   

“It’s the idea of being able to tap into a resource that you don’t have to pay full freight on,” he adds.