After 15 years working within in-house PR, I have returned to a PR agency with The Tonic. To many it will ignite the debate – which is better: agency or in-house?
It’s a topic which has filled vast column inches within industry press over the years.
I remember PR Week some years ago reporting on what was intriguingly dubbed a ‘Fight Night’ event organized by communications professionals which saw expert panels comprising some of the top agency and in-house professionals to champion their respective market.
There are clearly differences between agency and in-house roles, with pros and cons attached to each.
This particular ‘Fight Night’ event resulted in three key components which professionals felt distinguished between in-house and agency. They identified:
Breadth v depth – People who favoured agencies spoke of the breadth of their work, with a varied portfolio of clients and using a wide range of skills on different projects. Those working in-house were proud to focus on one brand allowing them to become experts and explore industry issues in-depth.
Culture – Proponents said agency culture is lively and creative while the organisational structure is less complex and often with less red tape. During the debate it was argued that in-house culture was often more traditional in outlook with a set identity.
Professional development – Agency employees informed the debate that they were often thrown into the deep-end from day one into a fast-paced environment being exposed to hands-on opportunities. Corporate staff stated that it was often harder to fast-track career growth in comparison to agencies.
From my perspective, I don’t believe the grass is greener on either side. I also don’t necessarily believe there is a huge chasm between the two sectors.
I think that the factors listed above can apply to either sort of role. The sort of organization you are working for is perhaps the more crucial point. I’ve worked for a council and a university and the range of subjects you promote each day is as varied as an agency. Both sorts of role can be equally fast-paced depending on the time of year and what activity is on the agenda. And it’s often down to the individual company how many opportunities there are for staff to learn new skills and develop.
As communications professionals we are all in the workplace to identify and develop compelling content that meets the following criteria for our chosen audience – educate, excite, engage.
What is important is to keep enjoying what you do – whichever side of the fence you are on.