Considering Making the Switch from Agency to In-House?

Determining the next move in your career path is a tough decision especially when changing from agency to in-house communications. While yes it is all PR and based on the same principles, strategies and tactics the daily work style, skill set and environment can be drastically different.

Often times the attraction to an agency is the multiple clients, the variety of industries, the camaraderie of other communications professionals and even the swank office. Agency PR pros are talking to media daily and don’t typically have politics to deal with since they don’t directly work for the companies they represent.

If you are considering leaving time sheets in the past, for stability, security and routine make sure the switch it is a fit for you and an answer to what you are trying to leave behind. The pros of working in-house does typically include better health benefits, more opportunity for advancement and fewer barriers to implement new PR programs.

“In-house, you are constantly building off of the previous work you have done, have a far deeper level of exposure, a greater variety of tasks and a more vested personal interested in the success of the organization,” says to Tim Whitman, Senior Manager of Corporate Communications, Application Security, Inc.

But also think of the negatives of in-house communications such as a supervisor who is not really sure what it is that you do, fewer tools to help do your job and the lack of working in a communications team for idea exchanges.

PR pros that come from agency background are sometimes better prepared to make the transition to an in-house practitioner. “I gained experience/exposure by working on multiple accounts, on multiple account teams, reporting to multiple managers, all with tight deadlines,” says Mark LoCastro, Public Relations Manager. “The skills I’ve acquired at an agency are invaluable for my in-house role.”

When considering making the switch from agency to in-house communications contemplate the following:

  • Have an understanding if the company you are considering joining a good fit, not only from a business prospective and what you want to be doing, but organizationally as well.
  • Analyze if the company personality matches yours.
  • Interview your potential colleagues as much as they are interviewing you.
  • At an agency you do not get to choose the clients you work on so switching in-house offers that unique opportunity. Be sure the company mission and subject matter interest you.
  • Know what your upward mobility opportunities look like.

“I encourage people to move in-house, provided the environment is one they have reason to believe will engage their energy and their intellect,” says Joshua M. Peck, Senior Manager, Duane Morris LLP. “I believe that working with one company deepens one’s relationship with the work and makes one more effective to develop and shape messaging.”

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  • http://twitter.com/KirkHazlett Kirk Hazlett, APR

    Great advice, Lindsy, that I learned by doing…wish you had written this eons ago!! :-)

    Thanks for putting the challenges and the opportunities of career-path change so clearly and concisely!

    • http://twitter.com/zzcrawfish Linzy Cotaya

      I am so glad you liked it! Thanks for the feedback

  • http://twitter.com/Mannyotiko Manny Otiko

    Good food for thought. 

  • http://www.swordandthescript.com/ Frank Strong

    Having grown up in an agency world, but been in-house in my last few gigs, I’d characterize agency work as a mile-wide and an inch deep, while in-house is a inch-wide and a mile deep.  I strongly beleive there is much merit to the idea that an agency background leaves in-house candidates well-prepared.  Great post!

  • http://twitter.com/LindsayNK9 Lindsay Kwek

    Great post! However, I don’t really agree with this sentence “But also
    think of the negatives of in-house communications such as a
    supervisor who is not really sure what it is that you do, fewer tools to
    help do your job and the lack of working in a communications team for
    idea exchanges.” I have never had this experience with in-house. Perhaps
    we shouldn’t assume this is true for all in-house?

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