We've seen many in the PR world come and go across Singapore and Asia. Yet, year after year, our consultants are still asked to weigh in on the debate between working at an agency or in-house. We thought it was time to set the record on some industry myths, with plenty of unbiased opinions for you to make your decision in this hot job market.
Myth #1: You work in an agency to be exposed to different projects.
Whilst it is true that agency life is fast-paced, working in-house likewise requires you to wear many hats from the beginning to the end of a campaign: from strategic planning through execution and evaluation. The challenge of keeping a consistent brand voice and trying new things means in-house professionals really have to get under the skin of their business to understand what makes it tick. Additionally, you can be exposed to more areas of communications working in-house (ie: crisis management, media relations) compared to someone siloed in a specialist agency.
The origin of this myth stems from the fact that agencies are usually more well-connected to a breadth of clients from different industries. If you're looking to break into PR from another sector or are starting early in your career, the established network of a PR agency can give you a better headstart in building your knowledge and experience base.
Myth #2: Working in-house is better for forging long-term relationships.
It's valid to say that in-house professionals benefit from day-to-day visibility. You will still report to senior stakeholders, but have more of a say over the brand direction and finding new opportunities that impact the bottom line compared to the specific brief given to agencies. You might also have more face time with colleagues from different departments as you support their projects, collaborate on thought leadership content, or nominate each other for industry awards.
The myth that relationships are more difficult to form in an agency stems from the (1) high turnover of staff and a (2) high-pressure environment.
Yet, high turnover also means that new people will always be coming in with fresh ideas to liven up the agency, and you'll have more colleagues to reach out to when you're ready to make a change. Similarly, the flip side of a high-pressure agency environment is that the client has already agreed on clear parameters of success - so when you perform well, your contact in the company will personally attribute you to the outcome. This is highly beneficial to building your personal brand and portfolio.
Myth #3: In-house PR professionals get paid more money than if working in an agency.
While junior PR roles do get compensated more in an in-house position compared to an agency, senior roles (from manager to director) have less of a discrepancy between the two environments.
It also depends on the kind of agency you work for; for example, consumer comms rank lower than corporate, financial or public affairs PR.
Click here for the exact salary ranges for roles within PR & Comms in Singapore and Asia.