Working in a PR agency and feeling thinly spread across a range of demanding clients? Wishing you could have more influence over the decision making process? Wanting to focus on one brand and get under its skin? Welcome to the three most popular reasons I hear from agency candidates looking for in-house roles.
Lots of people, at mid-level particularly, are in the market for that mythical solve-all to a challenging point in their careers — and think that an in-house role might be it. However, rarely do I meet a truly engaged in-house practitioner who does not also have a list of internal stakeholders that is as long as any agency client portfolio, a business manager to wrangle budget from or a range of goals and projects that stretch them all in directions.
While a move in-house might be right for some, it isn’t for everyone. Agency life is an amazing training ground and you are surrounded by people who are experts in the same field as you.
So before hurrying to ditch your agency career, carefully consider the following and think about making the most of the many agency opportunities out there.
VARIETY IS THE SPICE OF LIFE
Working in an agency, especially at the beginning of your career (and yes, that means the first ten years at least) offers you the chance to sample brands from a range of industries, all shapes and sizes, and to work into a range of targets and audiences. This is the time to learn broadly, and you can specialise as you become more senior.
YOUR CAREER IS A MARATHON, NOT A SPRINT
People often feel moving in-house will bring them a bigger salary package, but whilst increasing your monthly pay now feels great, looking at the whole of your career, the future is strongly affected by the career-led (not money-led) choices you make early on. It’s that strong stable base that will set you up for the rest of your working life, and when you look back at the variety of challenges you faced working an agency portfolio, you’ll appreciate having been stretched every which way. That’s when you can really start to reap the financial benefits for the much longer period of work that still lies ahead of you.
IT'S WHO YOU KNOW
How many people do you come into contact with every single day in agency life, and what do they do? Think of your life as a Linked In web, and yours is full of PR industry specialists. Think of the onward opportunities you may get from every boss, colleague and client you meet in an agency over a three year period. Then imagine working in-house in a PR team of two people for three years. You’re a networker — so be networked.
GO WITH THE FLOW
Ever noticed how many people move from agency to in-house? But how many do you see going in the other direction? As a recruiter I would say your trade skills in PR will always transfer well into an in-house environment, but it is often harder to convince agencies to take on an applicant from the in-house scene. Why? Agency life requires a skill set that also knows how to make an SME business model profitable — in-house candidates typically have less commercial exposure to a business P&L. So push on with agency and learn learn learn – when the time is right to move in-house, you’ll be able to add huge value and reap the rewards of all that varied and interlinked experience you’ve gained.
This article first appeared in Campaign Jobs Asia