33 Talent had fun hosting Refresh last week, partnering with IPRS to bring this new networking event to the PR industry in Singapore.
The theme of the night was an ‘agency vs in-house battle’, finally getting to the bottom of that burning question: is the grass really greener on the other side of the fence?
As a specialist recruiter into the PR and Comms space, we see this question raise its envious head pretty regularly, so what was the conclusion at Refresh? With panelists who have worked both sides, as well as those who have dedicated their career to just one, we aimed for a varied perspective and we got it!
DO THOSE WHO WORK IN-HOUSE GET TO FOCUS ON JUST ONE BRAND INSTEAD OF BEING PULLED ACROSS 5+ CLIENTS?
The answer was that it’s not that straightforward – in fact this became a running theme for the night. In-house, with regional MDs, business units and stakeholders, it seemed there are just as many ‘clients’ to work with. They all want something different and on their own deadlines, just like agency clients do. We concluded there are just as many stakeholders on both sides of the fence, and time can be just as pressured – though in-house all of that energy does pay into one brand.
WAS IT TRUE THAT AGENCY STAFF FOUND IT EASIER TO CLIMB THE LADDER, AS THERE ARE MORE INCREMENTAL JOB TITLE INCREASES TO WIN?
Our panellists agreed that when you’re the only comms person working a region in-house, it can be hard to see where the next promotion will come from. However in larger in-house organisations, panelists had the opportunity to take lateral moves into different parts of the organisation, so their careers opened up to more than just corporate comms. Agency panelists confirmed there is always a new job to aim for when you’re moving up the ranks, and it was a really fulfilling aspect of agency life.
WHAT OPPORTUNITIES FOR CREATIVITY ARE THERE IN EACH ROLE?
Creativity was a hot topic with lots of interpretations. It could mean a creative idea for a PR campaign, or creative ways to win new business, run a P&L, market your agency or win awards for your company. The clear point being that agencies and in-house both have opportunities to flex creative muscles, but it has a much broader meaning than brainstorming a campaign.
IS IT POSSIBLE TO WORK IN AGENCY AND STILL HAVE WORK-LIFE BALANCE?
Work-life balance is often thought to be more achievable for those in-house, but our agency panelists had found their sweet spot in this regard and juggled family with successful careers. In-house, they reminded us that when you’re the only specialist in a region there is no team to delegate to, which means staying until the job is done; also that late night conference calls can be the norm. The conclusion on this was that your managers are often the ones who set the tone on work-life balance, not the company model.
WHAT IS THE BEST ADVICE YOU WOULD OFFER TO SOMEONE TO MOVE TO THE OTHER SIDE?
Our panelists offered a final piece of advice to those who were looking to move into their respective sectors, and it was similar advice from everyone. In-house or agency is too simplistic a way to predict what a working culture will be like. Their best advice? Know yourself and find a company match that suits your needs.
Thanks to the panelists who took part for their lively, insightful and sage points of view – and for the free giveaways during the Q&A sessions!