Sean Citrigno is the oldest of three siblings, but says he feels like the embodiment of PR shop Middle Child, which was conceived in 2021 around the idea that the middle child is imaginative, full of wonder, and even sometimes misbehaved.
On Friday, Citrigno was announced as the managing director of Middle Child following the departure of managing director Amanda Shuchat and senior vice-president Katie Muir. The co-leaders have left to create what the former described in a LinkedIn post on Friday as an “independent integrated communications agency.”
“They’re smart talented practitioners, and I’m sure that whatever they end up doing they’ll be successful,” said Citizen Relations CEO Nick Cowling of Shuchat and Muir. “The two of them are a great team that complement each other in a number of ways, and I will personally miss working with them. Their legacy is the team they built.”
Citrigno has spent most of his career with Citizen Relations, a sister PR agency to Middle Child under the Plus Company umbrella which includes Cossette and We Are Social among others.
He moved over to Middle Child from Citizen in 2020, largely because of Shuchat and Muir, who he cites as key figures in his career development. “Their training and mentorship has given me the confidence to be able to take this on,” he said. “I know it was a difficult decision for them [to leave], but I know they also wholeheartedly support me and the team in this transition.
Citrigno said that one of his key objectives is ensuring that the agency culture built by Shuchat and Muir is protected and nurtured as Middle Child transitions to new leadership. The agency is currently looking to fill the VP role left by Citrigno’s promotion.
“When I started here 13 years ago, they really held space for me,” he said. “As part of the LGBTQ+ community, it was one of the first times I felt like someone was giving me a voice and a platform. What I want Middle Child to represent is a space for everybody, regardless of gender, race, background or identity. It should be a place where everyone feels they fit in and their career path is theirs to shape. I want it to feel like a space where we invite everyone in and all stories are told.”
Middle Child currently boasts 32 employees between Toronto and its two-person office in Montreal, with a client roster that includes Kraft Heinz Canada, Diageo Canada’s luxury brands, Sephora, L’Oreal as well as longtime clients like Hyundai and relatively new clients like Dairy Farmers of Ontario.
“We’ve got some really exciting brands and brands that are really open and excited about pushing the boundaries,” he said, noting that he’d like to grow across verticals where Middle Child doesn’t currently have clients, such as travel and hospitality.
Cowling, meanwhile, described Citrigno as a “full-package practitioner” who’s equally adept as handling clients and the work, as he is at people management. “He’s great at bringing out the best in team members,” said Cowling. “The ones that are struggling he’s amazing with, but also the ones that I think are even harder to manage—the superstars. He’s a real talent.”
A move into the U.S. for Middle Child is “certainly in the works,” said Cowling, noting that the existing Citizen Relations infrastructure (the agency has offices in Los Angeles, New York and Orange Country) will help in that regard. “We just need to hire some great talent, and everything else is already in place… But we want to do it with the right clients, and not just for the sake of hanging a shingle.”